Memorandum of Understanding
An agreement between all those who are active in the name of Guernica Youth is needed. Such an agreement, even when merely informal, has to take into consideration the overall vision, the concept of peace and certain basic principles. Such an agreement has to be voluntarily but practised beyond self-interest. If a continuity of decentralized cultural actions (the painting of a peace mural) is to be realised, then it has to embrace the community wide spectrum. It should enable the youth to enter dialogues for the sake of sustaining peace.
POIEIN KAI PRATTEIN
When the Olympic Games were held in Athens 2004, it could be observed that the youth was definitely disappointed by the Olympic Truce not being upheld. The American Embassy issued on day one of the Games a statement that war efforts in Iraq shall be continued without interruption, and this despite the United States of America having signed like all other countries in the world the Olympic Truce resolution. Iraq had been invaded the previous year on March 23, 2003. It was justified then that Saddam Hussein was in possession of weapons of mass destruction, something which turned out to be a public lie advanced when Secretary of State at that time, namely Powell, made a false statement to the Security Council of the United Nations and in front of the world watching with great apprehension. Already the United States had started military actions in Afghanistan as response to 911.
With this huge disappointment of the youth in mind, Poiein kai Prattein started a search for partners to initiate youth projects. At a conference in Berlin 2014 there was made contact with PEACE WAVES. Together the two legal entities decided to organise a youth festival in Torino in February 2005 with the aim to let the youth formulate a new Olympic Truce Resolution.
It was then that Hatto Fischer and Thomas Economacos, who had brought a youth delegation from Greece with them, came across a Kids' Guernica action. One of the youth in this action was Jad Salman from Palestine. They were painting altogether a peace mural on a canvas having the same size as Picasso's Guernica, namely 7,8 x 3,5 m. The action was brought about by PEACE WAVES having made contact as early as 2001 with Kids' Guernica in Japan.
Kids' Guernica in Japan
Kids' Guernica started in Japan 1995, and since then has created a movement and community around children all sharing the same or similar experiences made possible by painting together on a canvas which has the same size as Picasso's Guernica (7,8 x 3,5m).
Over time the relationship of Poiein kai Prattein to Kids' Guernica evolved. In 2005 Kids' Guernica celebrated in Ubud, Bali the tenth anniversary of its existence, so it was decided to make a contribution by painting a peace mural with the title "The war is over" in Athens, and sending it along with Thomas Economacos and Maya Fischer making up the delegation to Ubud, Bali. Upon their return, they conveyed wishes of Takuya Kaneda, coordinator of Kids' Guernica in Japan, for future activities in Greece.
Poiein kai Prattein organised exhibitions, workshops, cultural interactions with the support of local authorities:
2006 in Kastelli, Crete
2007 in Chios and in Athens, the latter in conjunction with the ECCM Symposium "Productivity of Culture" which was organised by Spyros Mercouris and the network of European Capitals and Months. The latter aimed to uphold a continuity of learning between former, current and future ECoC cities, but the network ceased to exist in 2010.
Since then, Poiein kai Prattein continued to invest in further going cultural actions e.g. Thomas Economacos going to Belfast in support of efforts by Bernard Conlon. When Tom Anderson was preparing the catalogue of Kids' Guernica for the exhibition in Florida 2010, Hatto Fischer was a major contributor. Quite a few new people, artists and others, entered as a result the process e.g. Rosa Naparstek artist in New York, Savina Tarsitano with her action in Martinique, Sarah Lowndes in Dubai, Kate Parker in London, Iman Nouri Mourad in Lebanon, Alexandra Zanne in Gezoncourt, France, Manuel Gonzales in Gent with link to Guernica 1937, Monique Kissel, Prof. for Art at Saint Denis university, and many more persons showing interest but taking their time to become active by bringing together a bunch of children and/or youth.
As all of these actions constitute cultural investments in peace, the impact thereof will surely be known mainly in the long run e.g. what path a participant choses eventually. What counts is the Guernica related experience. Efforts to come to terms with an often negative reality can be sustained through lasting friendship by those who collaborated together when painting these murals. It can gave shape to a new diplomacy from below especially if these murals entail an intercultural dialogue e.g. Greek and Turkish youth painting together a mural in Izmir, Turkey after having started to work on the canvas in Chios, Greece. Such an action entails more than merely painting. The Greek youth was shown, for instance, around at the Economic University in Izmir, and whose library has its own Greek section. Awareness for the other depends on realizing many more cultural resources are needed, in order to forster international / mutual understanding at such sophisticated level that peace making efforts entail making no enemy pictures while analysing the reasons for war. A part of that effort has to be overcoming stereotypical projections upon the other. The latter are often hate languages as the case between Germany and Greece, or Germans against foreigners i.e. refugees coming from the Middle East to Europe and in particular to Germany.
The latest exhibition organised by Poiein kai Prattein in 2015 was in Ancient Olympia, thus at the very source of inspiration for the Olympic Truce. It was done in conjunction again with Spyros Mercouris who organised in Olympia a symposium about "the need for a constructive dialogue", Sept. 1-6, 2015.
Poiein kai Prattein: Guernica Youth in Europe
Guernica Youth emerged after Poiein kai Prattein created by 2012 an independent organisational approach with Hatto Fischer doing primarily the work of coordination. Moreover all actions have been archived on the website of Poiein kai Prattein. They present evidence of what peace culture means, namely the ability to work with memory. Especially since each action contains invaluable experiences, it is important to use this empirical basis to further reflection about conditions for peace in that particular location, area or region.
Some of the reasons for the separation from Kids' Guernica were linked to the failure by its coordinator to challenge bad practices. Collectively it seemed equally impossible to resolve major organisational matters, although they were discussed, but merely often solely at the fringe as if not a major topic. There exist memory protocols of these discussions held in Athens 2007, Tallahassee, Florida 2010, and Gent 2011.
One prime issue was linked to how the action in Picasso's atelier was realised (2009), another how the new international coordination committee was constituted in 2012. In the latter case, it was done by applying discriminatory terms to distinguish core members and mere friends of Kids' Guernica. As a result active coordinators had no voice when Takuya Kaneda deliberated alone how to continue coordination.
Since many painting actions are not done by kids, but by youth, it is time for all to see this difference. While children are still freer in their imagination, the youth needs to test already their ideas in a world more often hostile to their ideas. They tend to be far more reluctant to enter a collaborative learning process especially if younger kids are involved.
Especially the youth need to learn how to resolve all sorts of conflicts, violent and non violent ones. It requires as much self mediation between own desires (wishes) and what is conceivable to be possible within given reality, as it requires a capacity to resolve obvious and less obvious conflicts about use of resources, spaces, time etc. For example, while a youth may wish to travel by bicycle, he still faces and has to move in a hostile environment since over determined by sole use of cars as means of transportation.
To overcome the huge gap between youth and the adult world, a dialogue between generations is needed. Looking forward, it means to heed what governs the interplay between the youth and the adult world. All too often the latter is made up of fake models of success which do not give the freedom to learn out of mistakes.
Given as well that adolescence is one of the most difficult, equally challenging transition, a translation of ideals and hopes into realistic aims is needed, if the youth can avoid such disappointments which would drive them into if not resignation, then in extreme and radical directions of all kinds.
Part of the transition is becoming ready to assume self responsibility while adaptation to social reality should not rule out a non conformist way of thinking. As to acting out imagined solutions, the experiences made should open up a memory path. For only those who leave behind traces are able to construct out of the stories told an identity independent from the world while being realistic to know what is happening once human values and honesty are ignored, even lost, if not directly violated.
The biggest danger of the youth is the 'corruption of the mind' and with it a perverse understanding of key terms which make up a civilized world.