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Packing pistols for peace

October 22, 2011

Imagine one billion faces for peace. This is the goal of the Non-Violence Tour, which has brought its “Pistols for Peace” urban exhibition to Guadalajara.

A series of pacifist artworks are now on display until December 13 on the Rambla Cataluña beside the University of Guadalajara  rectory on Avenida Juarez.

Featuring individually painted revolvers with their barrels twisted in a knot, the sculptures were created or inspired by a range of well-known figures and local artists, including John Lennon’s widow Yoko Ono, Tapatio soccer star Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, and Italy’s veteran World Cup-winning goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.

The latter personally designed and painted a pistol entitled “football for peace” during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Other contributions came from Jose Gomez, a primary school student from Comitan, Chiapas; Mexican artist Mallinali Ruvalcaba; and the lucha libre (wrestling) star “El Hijo del Santo.”

The symbol of a subverted pistol was originally created as a memorial tribute to the Beatles’ John Lennon, an outspoken peace advocate who was murdered in New York on December 8, 1980.

The Non-Violence Project has adopted the image to promote Lennon’s dream of peace and non-violence around the world. Since 1995, the organization has traveled through 30 countries promoting “the non-violent resolution of conflicts.”

The sculptures were installed beside the university building on last week in the pouring rain. “We wanted a well known place to display these works,” said Carlos Gonzalez, the city council’s coordinator of museums. “Here they are easily accessible and right beside the Sunday Via Recreactiva so many people will see them.”

The pistols have traveled the world from Verbier in Switzerland to London’s Trafalgar Square. More locally they have been displayed in Mexico City and will next make their way to Rio de Janeiro, before returning to Mexico to be shown in Monterrey.

One aim is to establish training offices in every city the project visits, offering free courses on how to promote peace.

“As a foundation, we have a series of education projects for children, explaining to them what violence is and how to prevent it,” said Mauricio Bermudez, director of the Non-Violence Project in Mexico.

Questioned on the problems of violence in Mexico, Bermudez draws on the project’s experience in South Africa. “We have been working on this since 1993. I’ll give you a very quick comparison, in South Africa we were working all of last year with the secretary of education and in the schools and there was a 50 percent reduction in the levels of violence that year.”

Bermudez is firm in his belief that “it really is possible to reduce this problem of violence. I think that Mexico needs to work with the young people, teaching them to resolve conflicts not with violence but with respect and tolerance.”

While he respects other like-minded efforts such as the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity led by Mexican poet-turned-activist Javier Sicilia, Bermudez clarified that “we are not looking to start a political protest, we are just trying to sow the seeds of education.”

These unique artworks are well worth seeing and greater public involvement in the project could help transform this country. Go and check them out. In the words of the late John Lennon, give peace a chance.

For more information on the Non-Violence Project visit http://www.iobffp.com.

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