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Call for Art: Guernica Project

October 21, 2005

Got an email a few days ago from artist John Unger with an ambitious call for an “open source” campaign:

I’d like to invite any interested groups or individuals to help plaster the USA with billboard size reproductions of Picasso’s Guernica. Ideally, the work would stand without any text or headlines or additional commentary: if the painting is all that’s seen, it forces the viewer to make an interpretation instead of being told what to think. Being told what to think is exactly what got Americans in trouble in the first place, no?
The following paragraph is not what inspired the idea, but I think it explains relatively well what one might hope to accomplish in this project:
“A tapestry copy of Picasso’s Guernica is displayed on the wall of the United Nations building in New York City, at the entrance to the Security Council room. It was placed there as a reminder of the horrors of war. Commissioned and donated by Nelson Rockefeller, it is not quite as monochromatic as the original, using several shades of brown. On February 5, 2003, a large blue curtain was placed to cover this work, so that it would not be visible in the background when Colin Powell and John Negroponte gave press conferences at the United Nations. On the following day, it was claimed that the curtain was placed there at the request of television news crews, who had complained that the wild lines and screaming figures made for a bad backdrop, and that a horse’s hindquarters appeared just above the faces of any speakers. Diplomats, however, told journalists that the Bush Administration leaned on UN officials to cover the tapestry, rather than have it in the background while Powell or other U.S. diplomats argued for war on Iraq.” — quoted from wikipedia
If the painting intimidates warmongers into covering it, then why not make sure that it goes up in as many public spaces as possible?

Full call here. The Powell incident sparked outrage among artists and civil libertarians, and inspired Word War 3 Arts in Action to create Guernica-themed placards for the March 22, 2003 antiwar march in NYC. It also led me to create my first stencil. Anyone who would like to get involved in this project can find a source image of Picasso’s Guernica here. Contact us at visual.resistance@gmail.com and John at johntunger.typepad.com if you’d like to work on this.

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