The War is Over - message of one painting
War is over - Poiein kai Prattein 2005
The story of a Kids’ Guernica Painting from Athens:
“The war is over”
To undertake actions for peace means children have to enter already at a very early age the ‘peace process’. As anyone knows especially with experiences made in conflict areas such as between Israel and Palestine, but also Dafur and other war zones this is not easy. It requires reaching out to the other side while aware that not always the dividing lines drawn by the war fractions will be just to anyone. As a matter of fact, terrorism as force has made this even more arbitrary. It fulfils what Robert Musil wrote in his ‘Man without Attribute’ about a society having lost all signs of truth. He believed such a society would rely in the end to predict possible outcomes on measures of probability, the consequence of which shall be ‘terrorism’. No one, and in particular children can bear arbitrary rule. If parents say one thing one day and another the next day, children will be confused, disorientated and finally convinced that nothing holds. Piaget has made here some crucial observations on how children can respond differently to when they discover that the adults do not necessarily uphold that what they preach themselves all the time. For aside from cynical reactions in the belief all the world of adults is corrupt and cannot be believed in, there is the possibility to see the adults in a much more realistic light while the moral laws they advocate are taken by the children growing up as valid but still only moral laws: expressions of values akin to a love and trust in human beings. Here then the Kids Guernica paintings contribute through their innocence and leftist expressions to approaching such a world with a bit of optimism brought about by letting in some light. It is reflected in the use of colors and in what messages these paintings convey.
- On a piece of paper write some words, sentences, phrase and even try a poem or some description ……about peace.
- Transform these ideas into pictures, give shapes and colours to them, continue with some drawings, even sketches…by using techniques like collages, prints, different materials, mix media, photos….
- Make out of it a final piece of work which can be in any style or form
- Prepare to work in the group by transferring all these individual pieces into a final one.
- Work in the group: scale up and draw your final idea by using any medium or technique to become one piece of work using the Guernica dimension (7.8 x 3.5)
Thomas Economacos: “it is very important on how children are introduced to the idea in order to understand what a peace process is all about”
First Discussion with Maya Fischer, Thomas Economacos and Hatto Fischer prior to starting with the painting (July – August 2005)
- how Greek youth views war if known only on television?
- Violence at school and how to position yourself when confronted by violence of all kinds in the school yard and in the streets, but also at home and elsewhere?
- The experiences of POIEIN KAI PRATTEIN at the Youth meeting in Torino about Olympic Truce Resolution and how to monitor violations of Human Rights? (organized jointly with PEACE WAVES)
- The disposition of those of the Extreme Right and their family background compared to those who join the Anarchist and Left Wing radical movements once at university: an observation about youth and political orientation in the 21st century
- The dialogue between smaller children and the youth of today: any mediation possible once the youth is caught in main streams of youth culture with hidden and not so hidden forms such as Gothic style, Nirwana, Nihilism etc.?
- The tendency towards not wishing to marry in future and have children of their own as outcome of negative perspectives for life in a society at war or unable to protest against the going to war despite all experiences made in the past and especially during and after Second World War: the European dimension!
- Education systems and their fault lines when it comes to art education as a way to loose creative articulation possibilities and therefore by not partaking in real experiences make out of children and youth lost bodies or theoretical entities of possible existences but without any relationship to reality which could be shaped according to some meaningful ethical and aesthetical principles so that in the end everything is discarded, wasted and spoiled by negligent use.
- Evaluation: importance of open discussions in order to hear what the children and youth are thinking about the reality they live, learn, play and move in.
First stages are always difficult: where should the woman with dog go?
Bodies were painted on the canvas after all the children took off their shoes and started lying down on the canvas. This gave them a first experience of the space available to them. It is not easy to fill a canvas of this size (7,8 x 3,5 m) but children once given the freedom adapt very easily and move in and out of their own fantasy world as the colors they use take on a strong and often not inhibitive tone with regards to their own imagination seeking very much forms like Picasso described this when painting himself not like a child but really what he saw. The child can express in a leftist, innocent way feelings overarching almost every domain of life experienced so far. The smaller children are akin to butterflies and what moves to the surprise of the own eyes in many different ways through the air. The absence of conformity is what a child sees when gazing at the world with wonder. It is not uniform. This creates a strong sense of affinity between the imagination and the outer world. Some would say this comes close to the use of the archaic language in which every sign on the ground drawn with a stick in the sand takes on meaning to the body and mind of the child as it begins to relate to the universe.
The emergence of an amazing pattern only discovered afterwards
From the poetry house the figures lift up, reach into the sky and start to dance in the Greek light
Girl with blue skirt was painted by Stella Capari and the ‘laughing man” painted by children of ‘Chocolate’s Dance’ Kindergarten, while the rainbow man was painted by Giorgos Bizios (4)
Dancers moving from the right to the left
Different configurations of groups in four come out of the various phases of work by the children
The smaller children painted at the bottom edge of the painting, and of course, this meant houses, trees, but also fences, the latter added later to give the painting a frame as was the landscape (earth and sky) decisive to put some realistic dimensions into the painting. Some of these suggestions came from Thomas Economacos who could talk easily with the children before they tried out the solutions, and he ensured that each expression was careful when using paint and brush.
But apart from the dancing figures and houses there appeared to the left of the painting this unusual figure filled with sadness shown by the entire body but also by crying ‘red tears’ and a hand gesturing something to underline the look of the eyes.
Maya Fischer (16)
At first all the other children did not know how to deal with such a figure. Either they ignored it at first or else during breaks in their own painting process they threw questioning glances over to it.
But as the dancers lifted off the ground and started to move over in that direction, they found one important solution. One figure floated down to bring in the form of a letter an important message to the sad figure. The message reads that “the war is over.”
The suspended figure floating down holds in the hand a letter with an important message for the sad figure, namely that “the war is over”. This solution the children offered to the sad figure sitting at the bottom left and which was fenced in by Maya and Nefeli as they continued to paint also the tree of life while the other children painted their bodies after having the outline of them be drawn onto the canvas.
Poetic Semblance to what the children paint as message for peace
There are always pages in history
Bearing resemblances to leaves
While children run and seek to fly
For they are eager to dance
To the tune of winds
Brushing through trees
Even though their universe
Is filled with heavy thoughts
Weighing them down and marking
Things in grey
As they are frightened
by the noise of war
Not ceasing day and night,
Father and mother far away,
But in their dreams they let
Birds be heard again
And restore meanings
With their hands and souls
While smiling at the grown ups
So that they too take courage
In a world meant not to be afraid
Of what future can bear
Upon them once the message
Has reached all that the war is over.
Proportionate distances between generations
In Kastelli, Crete Easter Sunday, April 23, 2006
Why the message ‘the war is over’ takes on such importance, this can only be understood when put into the context of the world at global level. Ever since 9/11 prompted the United States to retaliate, there exists a ‘permanent war’ according to the Rumsfeld doctrine. He believes that while this war against terrorism has to be won, there is a need to prepare already for future wars. He adds that this society would owe to future generations. Such inheritance, namely to put war already into the cradle of the new born children, is peculiar to the ‘cold war warriors’ who came to power with President Bush junior after 2000. Since 1989 and the fall of the Berlin Wall, it was becoming evident that certain forces, interest groups and their representatives in government could not cope with a world no longer polarized as was the case during the Cold War. While President Bill Clinton conveyed this new sense for a world without ‘enemy pictures’, something mentioned already by Juergen Habermas when reflecting upon the West German army before 1989 as having to be trained without, there are clearly people who cannot do away with thinking about the others as enemies in order to concretize their fears of being threatened. Where this feeling of insecurity comes from, here Herrmann Broch spoke about ‘inner fears’ which come up inside any person so suddenly that it can either create panic or else be subdued by over static movements until numbed this fear is no longer felt. Naturally many other things are no longer felt. It goes without saying the end of the Cold War after the ending of Second World War was accompanied at least in Europe by people wishing never to experience war again. Before 1945 they had also this concrete wish that the war will end. The same wish children have in Afghanistan but as memories linked to what Orwell described in his novel ‘1984’, today the language has transformed ‘the permanent war’ into the ‘long war’ as if there is never the hope of war ending. Yet the solution lies exactly in this wish by people that the war will end. It is the prerequisite for all peace negotiations and upholding of peace as precondition of life on earth.
The Children who participated
- Christos Bizios(3)
- Giorgos Bizios(4)Stella Kapari(7)
- Zoe Kasioumi(7)
- Andreas Kasioumis(7)
- Iris Alisandratou (4)
- Nefeli Papaioannou (16)
- Maya Fischer (16)
Maya Fischer outside Kindergarten Chocolate Dance
- Katerina Tsaligopoulou
- Fotini Kalamatianou
- Maria Kapari
- Maria Kasioumi
- Froso ………..
- Mahe Kastanias
Arts coordinator: Thomas Economacos
Coordinator: Hatto Fischer
Address in 2005 (they moved in the meantime)
3 Blessa street, Papagou,
Tel. 210 6518470,6521544
Director: Dina Gianοpoulou
- Areti Bakanaki
- Dimitris Despoti
- Natasa Karleri
- Frangeska Louka
- Nefeli Namali
- Stergios Liapatis(6year )
- Lefteris Sotiriadis (6 year)
- Lazaris Sotiriadis(6 year)
- Stella Karathanasi(5 year)
- Dimitris Karathanasis (5 years)
- Anastasis Livieris(5)
- Thodoris Louredas(5)
- Nikolaos Louredas(7)
- Tzorzina Bachlava(5)
- Filippos Papachronopoulos(5)
- Alkmini Laiou(4)
- Giorgios Laiou(4)
- Giorgios Tsaganos(4)
- Kostis Stefanidis(4)
- Konstandinos Aranitis.(4)
Title: The war is over
Size: 7,8 x 3,5 m
Material: on simple canvas
Condition: good except at upper part a small tear in need of being repaired (2.5.06)
Prior to departure for Bali in August 2005
Painting shown at exhibitions so far:
The painting was created in Athens, Greece, August 2005 and shown for the first time in Ubud, Bali at the Kids’ Guernica Festival organized by Takuya Kaneda (see www.kids-guernica.org)
A second time it was shown in Kastelli, Crete 2006
Spyros Mercouris in Kastelli
A third time in Chios, 2007
A fourth time at the Zappeion Megaron, Athens 17 - 21 October 2007
Nagasaki January 2010
These children live at "ground zero" of Nagasaki