Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Post Guernica now!

Art has power. Here is how much:

John T. Unger, an artist and longtime commenter on Collision Detection, recently announced an intriguing art project called "American Guernica: A Call for Guerilla Public Art". He's calling upon artists nationwide to post replicas of Guernica, Picasso's famous antiwar painting, on billboards and the sides of buildings(...).

Why Guernica? Because Picasso intended it to depict the horrors and insanity of war, particularly the human destruction wreaked by bombings. Guernica caused a stir when it was unveiled back in 1937, and apparently it still does. John says his inspiration for the project came from an Iraq-related incident, as detailed by Wikipedia:

A tapestry copy of Picasso's Guernica is displayed on the wall of the United Nations building in New York City, at the entrance to the Security Council room ... On February 5, 2003, a large blue curtain was placed to cover this work, so that it would not be visible in the background when Colin Powell and John Negroponte gave press conferences at the United Nations. On the following day, it was claimed that the curtain was placed there at the request of television news crews, who had complained that the wild lines and screaming figures made for a bad backdrop, and that a horse's hindquarters appeared just above the faces of any speakers. Diplomats, however, told journalists that the Bush Administration leaned on UN officials to cover the tapestry, rather than have it in the background while Powell or other U.S. diplomats argued for war on Iraq.

As John writes, "If the painting intimidates warmongers into covering it, then why not make sure that it goes up in as many public spaces as possible?"

Well, I don't have the resources to put one up on a billboard, but at least virtually, I make my statement, and encourage others to do the same. And, scarily enough, although in this case I might not physically be in America, it really doesn't make much of a difference, does it?


Anonymous said...

Vvoi, thanks for picking this up and posting it… I agree with you that the project really not be limited to America or Americans. I do feel that Americans are the one's that really need to get the message, though... after all, we're the ones that will have to undo this horrible error we've committed.

Also, you're right that the project can be served almost as well by posting it online as by putting up the billboards... The idea and the show of support for it is the most important part. I'd love to see Guernica from coast to coast, especially along highways to remind drivers what the war is really about, but blogging the idea helps too. So, thanks!

Anonymous said...

John T Unger, I do admit that war is terrible. I do admit further that I voted against GW Bush twice, at 8am both times. I do finally admit a third thing, that Saddam killed over 300,000 people, and that it has been official United States policy since 1998 to remove him from power, a policy instituted in the second term of Bill Clinton. With those three admissions in mind, it is time for us to not admit, as you claim, to any "horrible errors" that result from the Iraq war, but to start to create the world as a better place, a work of art if you will. I am not sure what does a better job of doing that, to leave a tyrant like Saddam in power, or to remove him "for oil" as critics of W Bush say relentlessly.

It starts with people listening to each other, something you, I, GW Bush, and Saddam alike, need to start becoming better at every day.

vvoi said...

Thank you both for your engaged words. I think both your comments point to several crucial issues. One is, of course, how to be good to others. Another, related one, is how to have politicians be good to others. Yet another is what can an artist do to help. Can posting Guernica, or publishing it help? I'm not all that sure. But while I'm trying to think it out more, I might just as well do something. I might as well break a censorship, one that unwittingly helped me to see the power of art by trying to hide it. In this sense, it is not about politics. It is about freedom of speech, awareness, and the surprizing ways old art becomes new, and old, tired anti-war discourses resurge young and refreshed, with a new strength, clarity. And just maybe, with a new impact.

Anonymous said...

Theodore + Vvoi,

You both make great points. Listening, creating the world as a better place, awareness and freedom of speech... these are all good things. In fact, you'd *think* that would be obvious wouldn't you?

Vvoi, you make a good point especially when you ask "will this help" and answer that doing something while we work towards more complete answers is a good thing.

I'll admit to being a bit of a rabid pacifist, at least when it comes to national issues. I just can't fathom war as a viable answer to anything. So I do what I can on any given day to make the world more open or beautiful. On the eve of GWB's second election, I really considered dropping the art and focusing on politics, but in the end, I felt that I could do more to improve the world by working on culture and education. And those fronts are open to all of us, right? Regardless of any affiliations or position. Just have to get up in the morning (or whenever) and try to aim all our actions at improving some small part of the world...

Oberon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Oberon said... guernica now.....plaster it on the walls.....freeway moves the bowels in a most agreeable manner.....the smell of shit brings one down to earth again.

stoirmeil said...

I am happy to find this posting -- I am writing an article on the rich and ambiguous history of this painting, and your comments on this blog, including your virtual use of the painting in protest of the cowardly and transparent attempt to cover it and not allow it to be a backdrop for the discussion of the invasion, are part of the actual history of the image and its power going on.
(Oberon -- excuse yourself, lad.)

Kamil PINARCI said...

I think we all missing the important core issue
On this painting.
The painting is describing the horrors of the war.
True. But there are more than that.
The Nazi airplanes bombing a city, Guernica, which has no
antiaircraft defense or even basic shelter protections.
This bombing was experimentation of Nazis
on bombing and preparations for WWII.
The painting is more anti Nazi and anti
Imperialistic than abstract war.
And it fits perfectly for a airplane pilot
Who bombed Vietnamese cities which has no,
Proper defense with napalm bombs.
Pulitzer prize winning photos showed many
times civilians running with burned skins.

This is a war crime according to Geneva Convention,
and decisions of Nuremberg trials.

Targeting the Vietnamese Civilians ten thousand feet above.
Bombing hamlets and simple houses made of bamboo with
Napalm bombs. Children and families running burned and
The name of the war criminal is

John Mc Cain shamelessly running
for the US presidential elections.

Adam Kamil P.

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Kamil PINARCI said...

I have just completed two videos on
war and Guernica

Please watch and I would like to hear
your critisizms.

Take care.


War is Costly…Peace is Priceless..

Mc Cain Hero! or War Criminal... Guernica


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