WAR IS OVER! if you want it

Invited to take part in an exhibition that looked at contemporary artistic ideas of peace, we designed and installed one in an ongoing series of temporary studios. From this base a wool text blanket developed, comments and extracts of conversations about ideas of peace today generated by visitors and sent by fax, were stitched. At the end of the project the blanket was used by the people whose contributions were included in it, finally becoming part of the Migros Museum collection.

Due to the birth of our son Erasmus our presence was intermittent, the large black and white photo of us as John and Yoko acting as our surrogate. Also shown was a poster based on the poster John Lennon & Yoko Ono produced for their peace campaign in the early seventies: WAR IS OVER! If you want it, Love and Peace from John and Yoko.

John & Yoko’s campaign for world peace was not only an expression of real social and political concern but was also an early and good example of public art. Full of utopian naïvety and self-promotion, it didn’t bring world peace but the photographs of John & Yoko in bed have made it into our history books. As Gavin Brown said in the Peace exhibition catalogue ‘Of any contemporary figure no one is more identified in the public mind with vague notions of peace than John Lennon’.

In 2000, the year of the Zurich project, these nostalgic images had no relationship with actual political reality. A call for peace was a meaningless gesture from the past. There was no global peace movement and the many regional wars had virtually no impact on our lives in the so-called West. September 11th changed all that and when the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were fought, a peace movement rose from it’s grave.

The curators said of the exhibition, "'Peace' explores the chances for peace on Earth on an artistic level. 'Peace' is seen as a metaphor of reality, as an ironic challenge and a paradigmatic gesture. A dozen international artists will be taking part in 'Peace'. The exhibition will be accompanied by a peaceful supporting programme and a lavishly illustrated catalogue with texts by different authors. 'Peace' deals with artists who are able to create a peaceful atmosphere, artists whom you think of having something to do with peace, but not one-dimensionally using peace as their subject matter. 'Peace' should leave open space for reflecting on the most different dimensions of our everyday culture. 'Peace' deals with a key value of everyday life, spanning a wide network of sociological, psychological, political, moral and also aesthetic issues. In this sense, 'Peace' is a way of showing, both on a loose as well as on an engaged level, a specific late twentieth-century and early twentyfirst-century concept of the social relevance of contemporary art. 'Peace' strives for meaning".

Participating artists; Carlos Amorales, Julie Becker, Daniele Buetti, Urs Fischer, Ceal Floyer, Douglas Gordon, Nic Hess, Elke Krystufek, Olaf Nicolai, Bob and Roberta Smith, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Piotr Uklanski, Tracy Mackenna & Edwin Janssen.

Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst Zurich, Switzerland, 1999-2000

Against a backdrop of '70s art campaigning, responses to contemporary ideas of peace were stimulated at a time of real social and political concern

Part of ‘Peace’, an exhibition that explored the chances for peace on Earth on an artistic level, curated by Gianni Jetzer and Rein Wolfs


If you want it