Can art change the world for the better?
Perhaps not automatically. But we at pics4peace have developed a construct with the claim to try: This is how the transatlantic art and dialogue project "better together" came into being with a lead time of more than 2 years. The trigger at that time was of course Trump and the consequences. Today, due to the Ukraine war, the climate and raw materials problem or increasing autocracy worldwide, cooperation across the pond is more necessary than ever.
How we will live in the future is not something we see through binoculars. What our children have to expect in the future - whether democracy or autocracy, whether war or peace, whether more confusion and manipulation through fake news, whether drought or enough water and fruit to live on, whether togetherness or antagonism - depends on what each and every one of us does today. For this very reason, it is worthwhile to find creative ways to involve young people and to ask them to tell everyone what is important for them and their lives.
For this purpose, 13 young artists - all art students at universities in Germany and America - met for 9 days to share their stories, experiences, values and goals and to create works of art in responsibility for each other and yet independently, with which they convey what is most important to them.
The first 3 days in Germany we traveled to historical places and dealt, for example, in Frankfurt with the burning of books in the Third Reich at Römerplatz, with the beginnings of the democratic movement, its difficulties and achievements in the Paulskirche in Frankfurt. In Munich, we spent a whole day, taking a ride through history with a corresponding guided tour of the city and talking about German-American relations in the Amerika-Haus. The thought-provoking visit to the Nazi Documentation Center was just as much a part of the trip as the leisurely evening in a rustic beer garden. In Nuremberg, at the Jusitzpalast, the Nuremberg Trials were the center of our exchange. In the Memorium there, we not only had a competent guided tour, but also dealt with the topics of "law and justice" in a workshop. A surprise was that our American-born workshop leader had studied at the same university from which the majority of the American students came, in Ann Arbor. :)
The role of U.S. Americans in the Nuremberg Trials was significant. For the first time in history, victorious powers brought justice to the losers and war criminals by an international court, not revenge justice.
With the fullness of all these impressions, they went to the former German-German border area, to a remote monastery (Kloster Banz) that today serves as an educational center, and from then on they worked like mad on their topics and concepts for the future.
The young people were absolutely motivated. They also had a lot of prominent support: Nancy Pelosi, at that time still the third most powerful woman in the U.S.A. and the world, gave them a message to follow:
Stay confident. You are powerful!
The Minister for Europe of the Free State of Bavaria, Melanie Huml, supported "better together" by taking over the patronage. And former Vice President of the German Bundestag Johannes Singhammer not only gave insights into German-American political work, but also encouraged the participants to present their exhibition in the Deutsche Bundestag.
You can read about the 5-day artist camp at Kloster Banz with Master Artist Winfried Muthesius in the next diary entry. The final day was spent in Würzburg. Thanks to an American, Würzburg is now a world cultural heritage city. More about that later...