Instructions For Peace
Instructions For Peace is a touring exhibition of interactive multimedia art installations containing people’s instructions for peace in the twenty-first century.
The project was conceived and curated by Minneapolis-based new media arts curator Marlina Gonzalez.
The exhibition was first installed in San Francisco, as a parallel exhibition to the 2010 01SJ Bienniale in San Jose, California. The Katherine E. Nash Gallery of the University of Minnesota presented an expanded version, including a youth exhibit in the Quarter Gallery entitled Peace In Progress. This exhibition integrated selections from the San Francisco exhibit with new commissioned works by Minnesota-based artists. The Department of Art has an ongoing partnership with the FAIR School, a K12 arts magnet school with branches in Crystal and downtown Minneapolis.
Instructions For Peace offers a unique opportunity to explore the relationships of art, academics, and peace as a lifetime pursuit that spans generations.
The travelling exhibits can include smaller participatory activities in partnership with public spaces, schools and community groups.
I once was at a gathering to listen to a report by a woman who had just returned from visiting Israel and Palestine. She opened her talk by asking people in the room to close their eyes and imagine a world at war. She instructed us to hold that picture of war as clearly as possible, and to raise our hand when we were done. It must have taken a minute or less for us to raise our hands. Then she asked us to erase that image and replace it with a clear picture of peace. Same thing. Raise your hands when the picture is very clear in your mind. It took longer this time for all of us to raise our hands.
This simple interaction has been burned in my memory. As a visually oriented person, I was obsessed with the notion of holding pictures in our heads to affirm or re-affirm what we actually throw back to the world. What is the universe of imagery, thought, counter-thought, sounds, memories that we have built in our collective imagination, and that we carry around in our bodies? How much of those images are about war and violence and angry moments (personal or political)? What percentage of these images speaks to peaceful thoughts, images of harmony?
Instructions For Peace is an invitation to visualize, to become aware of, to hold images of Peace in us. In response to 01SJ Biennale’s call to “Build Your Own World,” my curatorial response was to find or create opportunities to allow for a collective space and time where and when we try to hold peace in our minds, to behold peace with eyes open, to listen to the sounds and perhaps to find the silences of our day-to-day existence.
But one will find that peace, questions of peace, answers to peace, are rife with opposing sentiments. There is an enigmatic side to peace, evident in the mix of works selected for these exhibits.
Instructions For Peace is more than just a call to action to visualize Peace. It is a safe zone that permits us to think about our own enigmatic notions about peace. We commodify Peace like a brand name or a product on TV ads. We print peace messages and peace signs on t-shirts. We simplify the attainment of peace in self-help books and magazine articles promising fast results. By subverting these methods of dissemination and deconstructing the quick-fix formulaic approaches to attaining Peace, the artists in these exhibits challenge all of us to ask ourselves the hard core questions.
What is the true price of Peace? What are we truly willing to invest?
Instructions For Peace is also a space for negotiating conflicting values we assign to Peace. Everyone has an idea of how to achieve peace. Nations and governments invest in arms, build territorial walls, enforce laws of order in the name of peace. Peace is a paradox. Modern society's attempts to keep the peace involve firearms, walls, territorial rules.
In order to truly achieve it, we have to decide to invest in Peace, with the same or even greater commitment and vigor that we fund and invest in War. And in order to realize Peace, we have to be able to hold a picture so clearly in our collective global consciousness – until we can walk on it, touch it, hear it, wear it on our backs, enter its interior spaces and make it our experience...one action at a time.
Marlina Gonzalez, Curator