July 15th, 2019
This is about peace and about war.
It’s about the truth and about failure.
This letter is about the truth. It took me quite a while to write these words and most of all to find the right words; I wrote this letter over the last two years; over and over, again and again. I am sure it still can’t put into words what I experienced artistically, but most of all humanly while digging into this gigantic word called “PEACE“.
For all the people out there who have been following this project, for all those who supported and welcomed me with open hearts and open arms and, as well for all those who never heard about it – it is important to me to share the following.
Back in 2016 I witnessed a Presidential Election with an unknown outcome on world peace and a world with multiple crisis on the brink of war. That made me reflect on the topic of peace and I launched the #WhatBringsPeace project.
#WhatBringsPeace – a project exploring the panhuman quest of peace and as a consequence sheds light on the topic of war.
I won’t explain the content of the project here, as by now this is of no importance to what I wish to share.
The major thing I learned through my “#WhatBringsPeace?“ project was the notion of the world “failure“ and its core extent. After all I understood this word differently than ever before, not negative as often defined by our society where we mostly learn that failure is equal with not succeeding, not reaching the goal of something (that most of all our ego wants so badly). I defined “failure“ in a new way for me: That there is no failure!
Looking back, I think I have a better understanding of what happened. There are no goals, and there is no such thing as succeeding – there is just experience, adventure, reflection and emotion. No project ever works out the way you plan it. A goal always transforms itself – grows or diminishes.
A form stays the same. The only thing that changes is our vision of that form.
“Failure, goals, succeeding“ etc. – are all definitions that are often implying certain personal or societal judgments or added definition values of good or bad, positive or negative, black or white. Now I see them as experiences; nothing more and nothing less.
I experienced to look further beyond my ego, my limiting beliefs, my illusions, my own suffering, my sadness and to understand the dimension of deception. It turned me further into the artist I am today. It made me start to paint and draw.
I chose to give up everything for this project: my studio, my house, indebted myself, left for never ending travels around the globe and most of all, I didn’t listen to my friends warning me; until I was burned out.
With no home, without money, without a studio to be able to produce art in and tons of debt on my back, I felt horrible: I felt that I deceived everybody who was involved and believed in this project. I felt that I let down all the people whom I interviewed, who shared with so much honesty and open hearts their private stories with me and who constantly put me to tears after the interviews.
I was disappointed with myself and I judged myself as having “failed completely.“
I landed on my knees in Slovenia at my grandmother’s house, where I slowly put my pieces back together bit by bit while drawing in the garden. Nevertheless, all the inner war that I fought inside myself brought me closer to my questions on peace.
We live in a world full of dualities, which we can’t escape. They are inseparable. Therefore peace and war are inseparable. I asked for peace – so I had to experience war within me in order to get answers to my questions of peace. We all chose to play this “game”.
I believe you have to choose inner peace – you have to choose wanting to be in peace and in joy. I am aware that this must be impossible for people who face war every day. All those people who struggle everyday, who don’t know where their next meal is coming from, who are being persecuted and who live in fear.
Though through some of my interviewees I learned that it is not impossible to come closer to inner peace even after having lived in war. (E.g. the Forgiveness Project)
I want to say that this project was not about finality and finding THE one answer was never the aim. It was about asking a finally not so simple question: what brings peace?
I am sure we all do experience several inner wars during our lifetimes – but I am not always sure if we question, interrogate and reflect on them – or if we just try to shovel them under the rug and move on – hoping that one-day they will disappear by magic. Well they won’t!
Maybe nobody feels in total peace with themselves but I am very sure too that not so many people asked themselves what truly brings them peace or why they are in war?
The importance of this letter to me lays in the act of setting this project free, of passing it on to you, of sharing the truth and of openly and honestly talking about the word “failure“.
Today this project doesn’t include anything but one question.
There is no sculpture, no interviewees, no statements and no traveling. I am confident that the question of what brings peace will travel and be read by those who are meant to read it. By those who reflect on themselves and who observe the world.
“What brings peace to you?“
This project was never mine – and I had to understand that. The “I“ was never important in it – but the question was and is.
I hope it will live on and that you, while reading this, will start to reflect on “What brings peace to you?“ Right at this moment, tomorrow or in three years.
#WhatBringsPeace and all the people involved – thank you for having taught me so much on a human level and thank you for redirecting me back to simplicity, back to the essential.
…With a little bit more peace within me, thanks to all of you,
Annina Roescheisen (July 2019)
Nowadays I try to see my life as experiences without judging them. Sometimes it works and sometimes I fall back into my old patterns of fear and insecurity. Well that is my experience to do so and I try to accept that.
I feel we rarely talk in public about things, projects, events where we didn’t succeed, where we by societal definition: we failed.
Through all of you, looking back today, I realize that I got exactly what I asked for: more knowledge, more insight, more peace by going through a bit of war and a giant life experience.
And if this project might mainly was meant to be only my project or in other words said: my inner reflections on peace and war – than this is one reason more for me today to set this project free, to pass it on – so that it can become yours now.
Photocredit: Matthieu Khalaf
The content of the original project back in 2016:
#WhatBringsPeace is an all inclusive, worldwide, philanthropic art project, that explores the pan-human quest for peace on individual and collective terms in response to increasing violence, environmental threats, and political extremism experienced globally today, making this project timelier than ever.
„Peace in its complexity can’t have a final result or statement. It’s an ongoing, ever changing process, a balance that can’t be understood without the reflection on war at the same time than peace. #WhatBringsPeace goes far beyond the topic of peace and war. #WhatBringsPeace is about individual and global reflections of whom we are, of how we act on a daily base as well as on our actions and thoughts on a global scale. #WhatBringsPeace is about raising awareness on fundamental questions of identity, roots, globalization, unification, peace and war.
The aim is to raise awareness on the everlasting bond of all human kind: emotion. As our society tries to distract us and tears us away, cuts us off willingly and with all power from our emotions through media, consumerism or even pharmaceutical „support“, through political games and manipulation we are dragged away from our identity of who we are and what we feel.
I see it as a necessity to act: trying to come back to our simplicity of being and therefore acting. I see a need in an re-awakening of human emotions with the notion and dimension of a global certain emotion sharing that is for each and every human of equal access and feeling: pain, fear, laughter, joy, anxiety, love.”
Roescheisen’s artistic body of work focuses above all on human emotions. She uses Art as a universal language to break down barriers of elitist thinking, social, religious or political boundaries. The artist believes that emotions are the unified aspect of all humans. Our experiences that lead us to joy, pain, anger, frustration, laughter, destruction, to suffering, anxiety, construction and above all to love – might be different, as well the languages, social challenges, political situations and health terms are different, but the essence of emotions is equal to all of us. We are cry, we all suffer, we all laugh and we all love.
Based on this belief the artist created the project: #WhatBringsPeace
#WhatBringsPeace is an ongoing interactive project that envisions a general reflection on war and peace on individual and global terms.
This philanthropic art project aims to go beyond language, religions, politics or social positions in order to observe and point out what is most evident to the artist: our unity of all human kind and race in our emotions. #WhatBringsPeace tries to point out and underline the emotive universal human connection and on the other hand calls out for reflection, self-observation and action amongst all humans.
The project was created and conceived by the artist in May 2016. Since February 2017, the project has engaged people through a traveling, interactive sculpture, social media, and video interviews on the topic of peace, held by the artist all over the world, as well as the artist’s participation in conferences and panels. Furthermore individuals can also participate through the usage of the hashtag (#WhatBringsPeace) and their sharing of thoughts and propositions through social media.
Roescheisen explores the quest for peace on individual and collective terms, as well as the dimension of individual and global war through these diverse mediums.
#WhatBringsPeace is an ongoing fieldwork project, an ethnographical approach in the search to find solutions, propositions and above all to raise awareness on the current state of the world.
Whereas our society mostly aims for results, Roescheisen underlines, that the path to get there is the main focus. Therefore #WhatBringsPeace has no final project date set. The structure is given through the 5 elements: social media, a traveling sculpture, sharing through the participation in conferences and artist panels, as well as ongoing interviews and their broadcast and most important YOUR interactions, reflections and engagements.
THE 5 ELEMENTS
1. SCULPTURE (Edition of 5 + 1AP)/ (Round Table)
The sculpture consists of a large-scale street sign (2m diameter) and of a recto and verso side.
The recto side is depicting an image of the Earth with a convex mirror at its center, social media icons at the bottom, and the #WhatBringsPeace hashtag/ question written at the top.
The mirror, reflecting both the viewer and his/her surroundings, fosters the idea of the self in relation to others. The sculpture encourages participants to ask themselves the question ‘What Brings Peace/ War?’ both as an individual and on a global scale.
The social media icons at the bottom of the sculpture invite viewers to share their messages through social media platforms (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Vimeo). The posts are constantly re-posted and credited on the active #WhatBringPeace social media accounts. These posts are meant to capture a variety of cultures and environments, often highlighting the minutia of day-to-day life.
The back-side is rusted and consists of hundreds of empty bullets, placed around the centered mirror; the mirror is brass, rusty, yet polished and reflects a shadow of the individual and the environment. The bullets refer to war, and the millions of murdered people worldwide.
The itinerant sculpture has been launched in February 2017 in the Swiss Alps, in Crans Montana, in collaboration with the Frank Pages Gallery (Geneva) and the VAF (Vision Art Festival). The artist chose Switzerland as a host country as it is one of the regions with the longest periods of peace, closest to her place of birth, Munich.
The aim is to continue the exhibition of the sculpture in public places, exhibitions, events and spaces, diverse cities and countries. The sculpture’s wandering existence stands in parallel to the artist’s own belief in the inclusive nature of world citizenship.
A simplified version, the reverse side of the sculpture (same dimension of 2m diameter) is used by the artist as a round table at conferences and on panels in order to foster a dialogue and the notion of unity in discussion.
2. VIDEO ART & INTERVIEWS
The artist is reflecting on the question of the panhuman quest of individual and global peace and war by the encounter of diverse individuals all over the world, in the form of interviews, held by the artist. These interviews showcases people from diverse backgrounds and with different voices from all over the world, both famous and ordinary people. The implication of ALL individuals from all social backgrounds, religions and social standings is a key element of the artist, in order to raise different voices and underline our diversities as well as shedding light on our similarities.
Roescheisen has interviewed 60 people so far worldwide.
Furthermore Roescheisen implicates a more video art-based artistic approach by conceiving non-verbal interviews. Non-verbal interviews are defined for example as dance performances or musical compositions on the same topic of peace. Musical support so far in the form of compositions include: Laurent Levesque, Emmett Skyy (verbal and non verbal), The Shoes and Benoit Dunckel (AIR).
3. SOCIAL MEDIA
Social Media is used as a tool to amplify the reach of the message and to promote a sense of connectivity on a global scale by removing the boundaries of time, language, and location. The social media aspect gives all followers and participants the possibility to engage in the project on a daily basis, to dialogue and express themselves. Furthermore it is used to promote humanitarian causes, share voices, stories, as well as reflections of the artist herself and others. The content of #WhatBringsPeace is constantly crowdsourced, shared, and reposted via social media platforms.
4. CONFERENCES & PANELS & ROUND TABLES
Peace, being a current urgent and important matter of concern worldwide, the artist’s participation in conferences and artist panels, and a close collaboration with Ngo’s, Foundations and Organisations are being fostered.
As #WhatBringsPeace is an all inclusive project, shedding light on the impact of art and culture in a peace building process on a political, social and human scale, the artist supports public sharing through conferences and sees it as an important contribution to peace building processes.
Art and culture have an important standing in the peace building process and therefore their place and voice in politics, religions, social contexts, without neglecting of the individual. Where governments and institutions tend to objectify, art subjectifies and reminds us about the human aspect and our emotions, which are necessary and important in a peace building process.
Collaborations/ Panel Information / Round Table
– UNITED NATION FOUNDATION in collaboration with the GUGGENHEIM MUSEUM:
- Artist Panel at the WEF World Economy Forum, Davos (Switzerland)
– BWM FOUNDATION, ongoing collaboration on the impact of art and culture as an important component in peace building processes:
- May 2017 Global Table Conference: Bogotà (Columbia)
- November 2017 Annual Global Table: Berlin (Germany)
– TOA TECH SUMMIT
- July 2017 Artist Panel: “Virtue or Vice? When Art & Social Media combine in a pan-human quest for peace Berlin (Germany)
– ICRC (Red Cross), ongoing collaboration:
- Integration in Global Women Leaders of the ICRC, worldwide
…and most important YOUR interactions, reflections, engagements, your openness and willingness to dig into yourselves and having the courage to share your struggles and achievements with us through all channels: emails, interviews, and participations through social media and attendance of the conferences and panels.
This art project has been conceived by the German multimedia artist Annina Roescheisen.
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