Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

Kids' Guernica and European Capitals of Culture: the Cultural Dimension of Peace held in Gent,18th Feb. 2011




One day conference at the University of Gent, Belgium

February 18, 2011

Co-organisers: Bart Verschaffel, University of Gent and Hatto Fischer, Poiein kai Prattein, Athens, Greece

Place:  Jozef Plateauzaal, Faculty of Engineering and architecture, J. Plateaustraat 22, ground floor.

'Plateauzaal': main entrance, hall,  left, end of the building. There will be signs.

Time: 10.00


Message from Kolkata, India to the conference

by Asit Poddar:

"We just finish today a kg mural with tribal boys. Prof. Abe from Japan and Ms. Nobuyo from Bali attended. The workshop took place 200km from Kolkata."  31.12.2010


  Blind Boys' Guernica - A Film By Samik Saha
10 min - 17 Dec 2010
Uploaded by artistsamik

Asit Poddar has worked with the Blind Boys and done with them by now three murals. Their main question is why war is always linked to religion?

Kids' Guernica and European Capitals of Culture: The Cultural Dimension of Peace

Aims of the one day conference:

by elaborating on the methodology used in various Kids' Guernica actions in order to

while taking into consideration:

in order to realize

The conference shall hear the proposal by Adam Chmielewski to make Kids' Guernica into a key event within the official program of Wroclaw 2016 and this provided that the city receives the designation to be European Capital of Culture for Poland in 2016.

Note: a similar proposal has been made by Diane Dodd to the Spanish city of Burgos 2016, equally candidate city for the title of European Capital of Culture in that same year but for Spain.

Program of one day conference:

in auditorium at the University of Gent, Belgium, February 18, 2011

'Plateauzaal': main entrance, hall,  left, end of the building.


Greetings: Bart Verschaffel, University of Gent

Kids Guernica. Why is a symposium on such a specific project at its place within the University walls? I believe Kids Guernica is a good example, and a very interesting ‘case’, of what one could call ‘field work in memory studies’.

As we all know, modern people, modern societies, are not simply free from their past – as they might have hoped – on the contrary. The waning of tradition, the loss of continuity, does not make things more easy, and life more light, on the contrary – the past, that exists and survives in many forms, comes back as a ‘problem’ –  ‘a problema’ in the Greek sense of the word, referring to the dark answer the gods give to those who come to ask for advice, the dangerous riddle the gods throw at the feet of the humans, as an obstacle they have to make sense of.

Modern, western society has developed a neutral ‘scientific’  way to deal with its past: historical research, history writing. The narrative presuppositions and representation strategies, used in academic history writing, have been criticized in many ways during the last decades. This has resulted in trying out alternative ways – less cold, less neutral, less scientific – ways to investigate the past, by linking it to remembrance, by linking the desire to understand what has happened with some kind of involvement, with commitment. The commitment of the witness in certain cases, the commitment of what I would call ‘active listening to the past’ in other cases. That is how I understand what Kids' Guernica is about: what the youngsters and the children do while working on the paintings is becoming involved in a past they have not lived themselves, through active listening

Memory studies have now become a new, fashionable trend in academic research. There is a danger, though, of academic recuperation – of academics distancing themselves from the task of ‘objective’ historical research and truth-finding, flirting with a warmer dealing with the past, without however being involved themselves. There is nothing wrong with academic conferences. But it is, as a counterbalance, equally smart to invite, within the university walls, field workers in memory work, personally engaged in specific projects.

Poetic Greeting: Maja Panajotova, poetess from Bulgaria, living in Antwerp: "...something to think about when relating Kids' Guernica to poetry and poetry to children in motion"

Opening remarks:

To watch this short film: http://www.ingebeeld4.be/new/index_flash.jsp?v=489#/487




Hatto Fischer: Presentation of the artists of Kids’ Guernica and their work under the theme 'In the shadow of Guernica'

Experiences by artists engaged in Kids’ Guernica


The children from Gezoncourt during their trip to Verdun 2010

11.15– 11.45 Coffee break

11.45 – 12.00


Note: "The Children of Chernobyl" is a project the two created in 1996.The main focus is on the village Rowkowitschi in Belarus which has been contaminated like many other places in this region. This was due to the atomic cloud of Chernobyl which was artificially rained off in this area and without warning to the population. It happened on the first of May 1986, when everybody was celebrating this day.....The theme and actual matter for children growing up in such an environment is still relevant today. For Chernobyl stands for an environmental "Guernica of civil disaster".

For information about Boudewijn Payens see:



12.00 - 13.00

Working in zones of conflict and the power of images for a peace process to work - the example of Belfast in Northern Ireland


13.00 – 14.00 Lunch


Afternoon session

Venue: Auditorium B

Auditorium B (beside 'Plateauzaal') main entrance, hall,  left, end of the building.

14.00 - 15.00

Kids' Guernica as a world wide network

Message from Tom Anderson

I believe the Kids' Guernica Project reflects the attitude of its founders that people of all ages, from 1 to 96, who have the interests of peace in the world, can come together and express their concerns for a peaceful world through the medium of art. Through the ages, it has been the arts that have been used to express our most important values, mores, and ideals and I think that use of the arts continues today in the Kids' Guernica Project. The images are important in their content (what they say) but even more important is the process of deciding on and achieving those images. It is my firm belief that children and adults must be equal partners in this endeavour. It is up to the adults to provide a safe and nurturing structure and facilitate children in discussion and expression of the issues and ideas of peace. And of course it up the adults who partner with children and other adults in this process to model appropriate behaviours that contribute to peace. It is especially difficult, I believe, to separate individual drives and egos from what is best for the project overall, and to subsume selfish desires in favour of the best outcome of the project. But I think we must acknowledge that anyone who is interested in this project in the first place is coming to it from a position of good will. Therefore I believe that less governance is better than more and that it is important that individuals and local organizers who engage in making peace through aesthetics (meaning adults facilitating and nurturing children) have as much local autonomy as possible, and flexibility to conduct workshops in the way they see fit, in accordance with the principles of the project. Therefore I see the organizational task of this upcoming meeting to be the development of standing principles for Kids' Guernica, and not the development of strategies for micro-managing individual efforts and sites. To all, good luck in this important meeting and thank you for considering these thoughts.

Tom Anderson

Prof. at Florida State University, Co-founder of Kids' Guernica in 1995 and organiser of the Kids' Guernica exhibition and Symposium about "Art Education and Social Justice" in Tallahassee, Florida, USA in January 2010.


Panel discussion I: Questions and Issues Kids' Guernica will have to face in future

Moderation:Bernard Conlon

See discussion paper by Bernard Conlon on a "Flexible Path for Managing a Global Movement"


The mural of Gezoncourt (2010) coordinated by Alexandra Zanne

15.00 - 15.30

Discussion round with the children and youth of Gent about their experiences made during the Kids' Guernica action in Gent in 2010

Moderated by Brecht Demeuleneare

Mural painted by a youth group from Ghent with the support of the Police of Gent first shown at the exhibition opening was Nov. 10th

Group bringing canvas for start of the painting


15.30 – 16.00 Coffee break


16.00 – 17.00

Panel discussion II: the cultural dimension of peace

moderated by Bart Verschaffel

The method of Kids' Guernica relies on freeing the imagination linked to real experiences when painting together with others so that empathy and understanding of the other becomes a crucial aspect of cultural and community based relationships on which to foster world peace.

17.00 - 18.00

Panel discussion III: Recommendations for the future of Kids’ Guernica - possible actions in Africa and linkage to Wroclaw 2016 in Poland

moderated by Wim Coudenys from the University Network of European Capitals of Culture


Adam Chmieleski is proposing to include Kids' Guernica in the cultural program as a major event. This unique Polish city is biding to become in competition with four other Polish cities the European Capital of Culture in 2016. There is a strong connection for Kids' Guernica to that city since Picasso drew there his famous pigeon on a napkin while in that city and it is where the man responsible for the bombardment of Guernica came from. The dimension of redemption is an integral part of Wroclaw insofar there is kept in mind what happened in 1945 when the entire German population was forced out of the city and replaced by a Polish population. Redemption needs cultural sensitivity and therefore a moral practice of forgiveness as practical element within the peace dimension. Linkage between Ghent and Wroclaw shall be underlined by the one day conference in Ghent insofar as this city received children from Guernica after the bombardment in 1937 and which is told by a powerful film developed out of the story by Manuel Gonzales since his father was one of the 200 children adopted by a family in Ghent. Thus Manuel Gonzales grew up literally in 'the shadow of Guernica'.

For information about Wroclaw 2016 see http://www.wro2016.pl/en/

Link to Africa: Future collaboration

Mike van Graan from South Africa and the Arterial Network (http://www.arterialnetwork.org/ which sponsors African artists in Europe.




17.40 - 17.45

Concluding remarks for the conference


Reception at City hall


In the cityhall the participants of the conference will be received by Sr. Rudy Coddens, Alderman of Education of the City of Ghent who shall represent Mayor Mister Daniel Termon


Draft Status: 13.2.2011

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