Each year thousands of people are dying because of war. Families are being torn apart. Have you done anything to help?
Paul Walde and the LOLA team have brought seventeen artists together to raise awareness of peace and war through a variety of exhibits scattered throughout the city.
Walde, artistic director and curator for LOLA, decided the 2010 LOLA art theme should be Conflict/Resolution to reflect the history of Victoria Park and the current reality of war.
Last year was the first time art was put in the park.
“I quickly became aware of how the art was interacting with the objects that are already in the park, which are war memorials,” Walde explains.
Victoria Park has not always been a public green space — it was once home to the 32nd British Regiment barracks and cricket grounds.
“Because of that heritage they continue to honour the military in that park. There is the tank there [and] war memorial. There are all these things in the park so I thought it would make perfect sense to make a show that responded to that history,” Walde reflects. “It also got me thinking about the idea that there is war currently in Afghanistan and sometimes it is hard to remember that.”
The artists contributing to this years LOLA range from graffiti-esque art by Jason McLean to installation pieces such as Jamelie Hassan’s piece Poppies/Holy Roller Tank.
“I asked artists to come up with works, or I found artists that had works, that simultaneously referenced war and/or peace — in the same work if possible,” Walde explains.
This year is a particularly special year for LOLA as two billboards were commissioned by Yoko Ono, an award-winning multi-media artist, peace activist and wife of the late John Lennon. Ono’s billboards read “War is over! If you want it” and “Imagine Peace.”
Both billboards are very simplistic but send a message not just to the London community, but also to the world.
Cock Robin, Anitra Hamilton’s exhibit, is a series of light boxes scattered throughout London with images of birds perched on the pins of Danish World War II hand grenades. Hamilton says her aim is to address recurring themes of territoriality, hierarchy, ownership and the history of violence. The exhibit is not supposed be completely anti-war, but instead acknowledges the complexity of our reality.
Paul Miller’s exhibit Kino Glaz/Kino Pravda: Remix shifts the theme’s focus onto social revolution and change.
“Nothing will solve our problems, and nothing will make people stop making more problems. But we can modify our behaviour to some new forms that aren’t as destructive as our current situation,” Miller says about the message of his installation and film piece.
To many of the participating artists, the exhibits have a deeply political undertone. Jamelie Hassan’s piece Poppies/Holy Roller Tank focuses on raising awareness of the reality and the affects of war.
“It makes people pay attention to the fact that these issues are in our everyday lives. As you walk by them you don’t even pay attention to the actual reality of war or the lose of war,” Hassan says. “We aren’t significantly conscious of what we ask of our citizens who are involved in a war and what that means to them, to the soldiers and their families and us as Canadians when we ask our citizens to go to war we should be fully conscious of what that entails.”
War is a reality for thousands of people but is out of sight therefore out of mind for many. LOLA has taken a stand this year to raise awareness of a sometimes unnoticed problem. All they’re saying is give peace a chance.
For information and locations to all the art exhibits, billboards and lightboxes check out westerngazette.ca/lola