The 6th “Peace Is…” event was entitled, “Peace Is… Acceptance”, and featured performances by Japanese rock guitarist and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador MIYAVI, and Afghan refugee rapper Sonita, who is currently studying music in Utah. Additionally, Fantasista Utamaro, a Brooklyn-based Japanese artist, used messages of peace received from Syrian refugee children that were translated from Arabic to English to do a live painting performance on a specially-made banner that was 2.4 meters tall and 7.2 meters wide.
Among the attendees were United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, Director of the UNHCR Office in New York, Ninette Kelley, Head of UN DPI Alison Smale (MC), and the ambassadors of the co-hosting countries: Colombia, Norway, the Philippines, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Portugal, Thailand, Poland, and Belgium.
In his opening remarks, Ambassador Koro Bessho stated, “’Peace Is…’ [focuses] on art and culture as a medium for bringing people together to more easily understand and to connect better with the United Nations and the objectives that it has.” He then alluded to the theme of this month’s event (“Acceptance”), which was chosen by MIYAVI, saying, “Inspired by their artistic performances, I hope we will be able to think about what peace means to us, and the depth of our capacity to accept.”
Additionally, Secretary-General António Guterres stated, “It is clear that art and culture can have an enormous preventive role in relation to conflicts… Art in particular can also have a healing factor in relation to the consequences of war.”
Postcards with messages of peace written on them that have been collected from previous “Peace Is…” events were displayed on an installation called the “HUG”. The “HUG” is modeled after a traditional Japanese folding screen and was specially designed by architect Masayuki Sono and CLOUDS AO to be a collapsible wooden structure that symbolizes the image of a mother embracing her child, hence the name “HUG”.
Photo Credit: Tokio Kuniyoshi