Arts program brings healing to broken communities
Media Release, Friday 27 June 2003
A cultural program to accompany the University of Melbournes flagship conference on Peace & Reconciliation will promote the expressive and healing powers of the arts, and show how they contribute to the dialogue of peace and reconciliation both in Australia and in other places of conflict around the world.
The cultural program is an exciting ingredient in the Conference scheduled to run 14-17 July at the University of Melbourne - and will involve performances and exhibitions, as well as provide opportunities for people to join in and make their own contribution to peace & reconciliation.
A variety of exhibitions, performances and workshops will run concurrently with the academic sessions of the conference. Some highlights include:
·East Timorese Weaving Project - Fatima Araujo has been running weaving workshops with local East Timorese women. Some of the colourful and intricate weaving, which has special traditional meaning for East Timorese people, will be showcased at the conference.
In recent times, the weaving has become a canvas enabling women to describe traumatic events from their lives without using words. The end-products as well as the methodology of this healing project, will be featured at the conference.
·Peace Memorial design A range of design projects for peace/conflict memorials by RMIT students will be on display. In addition they will present a display detailing the design task, a summary of thematic outcomes, and suggestions of potential applications of the ideas to future architectural expression.
·A Peace Pantomime developed for primary school children. Wise Ways to Win is an entertaining pantomime created to teach young children ways of solving conflict at home and at school. This pantomime is based on the successful Wise Ways to Win poster and children's book, both of which were written by the coalition Psychologists for the Promotion of World Peace, PPWP.
The pantomime teaches children the basic steps in conflict resolution. In the pantomime, Koala and Kookaburra are in conflict. Koala and her baby need to sleep a lot during the daytime because they spend all night eating gum leaves.
Unfortunately, their peace is disturbed by Kookaburra, who likes to sing and laugh and tell jokes all day long. With the help of a book they find at Wise Old Owl's library, koala and kookaburra learn how to talk about their problems and brainstorm solutions so that everyone enjoys a satisfactory outcome. Following the performance of the pantomime, there will be short presentation of the conflict resolution workshop that follows the pantomime when it is performed in schools, and an opportunity for audience questions.
·The American Buddhist association Soka Gakkai International will run an inspiring exhibition of photographs and words on the legacy of peace-building from the lives of Mohandas Gandi, Martin Luther King Jr and Daisaku Ikeda. The exhibition portrays the lives of these three peace-builders as they relate to key themes including the importance of having a mentor in life, the innate dignity of human beings, dynamic action, nonviolence and triumphing over diversity.
·The Cool Room - Sivan Gabrielovich and Deborah Leiser-Moore will present the renowned play based on the 1982 "Peace for Galilee Operation" which led to an 18 years of military conflict between Israel and Lebanon. The Cool Room follows a strong tradition of contemporary political plays about aspects of the ongoing Jewish-Arabic conflict. In Australia, a neutral country, the conflict is re-visited through the eyes of two men. They have survived the same war on two opposing sides, and it is here, in Melbourne, that they are given the opportunity to listen to their 'enemy' for the first time. They are displaced and locked together, in a country that offers escape but not home. If they will not learn how to keep each other warm, they will die together.
·Refugees by Refugees the Melbourne artists, photographer and film-maker Timothy Syrota will present a series of written and photographic perspectives about life for displaced people, illegal immigrants, and refugees fleeing the Burmese military. There are over 500,000 such people currently in Thailand, some in camps, some in ad hoc villages, some sleeping on the floors of the factories of their Thai employers. The images were taken by the refugees themselves, following workshops, discussion groups and photographic skills classes. And the results? A simpler yet more comprehensive picture of life on the Thai-Burma border would be hard to come by.
About International Perspectives on Peace and Reconciliation
The International Perspectives on Peace and Reconciliation conference features a range of international keynote speakers, with representatives from and case studies of, East Timor, Northern Ireland, the Philippines, South Africa, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Burma, the USA, the Middle East and Australia.
The conference will run from July 14-17 at the Universitys Sidney Myer Asia Centre and will feature a series of guest speakers in seven key areas of the peace and reconciliation debate.
Speakers include former High Court Judge and former Governor General Sir Ninian Stephen; Nobel Peace Laureate Jose Ramos Horta; University of Cape Town, South Africa, Deputy Vice Chancellor Cheryl De la Rey; Reconciliation Australia director Jackie Huggins; ethicist Peter Singer; Professor of Psychology Ed Cairns, University of Ulster, Northern Ireland.
For more information on the conference, key note speakers and addresses and the cultural and educational program log onto: www.conferences.unimelb.edu.au/flagship
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