Make art not war

Pedro Reyes Palas por Pistolas (Pistols into Spades) 2008

On the one hand, it is hard to believe that only two blog entries ago I was enjoying myself thoroughly on the Tel Aviv beach without a care in the world. On the other hand, the same conflict which would send me scuttling to a bomb shelter today is not new and no real surprise considering the instability and volatility of Israel’s neighbors. But I don’t want to get into politics here; it would be better to concentrate on how to get to a lasting peace. Many artists throughout the ages have put their creative efforts into exposing and combating Man’s natural inclination to wage war.

Pedro Reyes’ stunningly simple installation above is one of my favorite works. It portrays the culmination of a very ambitious project undertaken by the artist with the collaboration of Mexican authorities. Citizens were encouraged to hand in their weapons in exchange for coupons to buy domestic appliances. The metal from the guns were then forged into spades used to plant trees. Pure perfection in concept and aesthetics. The artist’s entire project was also recorded in film. I recently saw parts of the installation at the Katzen Center at the American University in Washington DC.  Talk about swords into ploughshares – it almost made me weep.

On the eve of Thanksgiving I feel truly grateful to live in a democracy, to be able to express my voice, and to be living in a peaceful corner of the globe though as we know only too well,  that peace can be shattered at any moment.

If anyone out there wants to share their favorite artwork on the subject of war and peace I would love to hear from you. Stay safe and Happy Thanksgiving.

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