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Art is Peace

"Art is Peace", writer Jon Fosse's message for World Theater Day 2024

18 Apr, 2024

The International Theater Institute established the celebration of World Theater Day in 1962 and since then, every year, it has chosen an internationally recognized theater personality from one of its member countries to write a message, which on that particular day will be read in all theaters and will be broadcast by mass media around the world. For this year, the Executive Board of the International Theater Institute has chosen Norwegian writer Jon Fosse, winner of the 2023 Nobel Prize in Literature. Here is Jon Fosse's text:

Art is Peace

Each person is unique, yet at the same time similar to any other. Our external features differ – this is known – but there is also something within each of us that belongs exclusively to himself. Where is himself? We can define it as his spirit or his soul. But we can not categorize it with labels, but just let it be. However, although we are different from each other, we are also alike. People are essentially the same wherever they come from, whatever language they speak, whatever the color of their skin or hair. It is a paradox: We are similar but at the same time we are different. Perhaps as human beings we are inherently paradoxical, in the bridging between our body and soul: we contain both the most earthly and tangible existence, as well as something that transcends material earthly boundaries. Art – good art – manages, in its wonderful way, to combine the completely unique with the universal. It makes us understand the different – ​​the foreign, we might say – as universal. In this way, Art overcomes the boundaries between languages, geographical areas and countries. It brings together not only the individual qualities of everyone, but also – in a sense – the individual characteristics of every group of people, for example every nation. However, it does not do this by leveling the differences, making them all the same, but, on the contrary, by showing us what is different from us, what is alien or alien. All good art contains just that: something unknowable, something we cannot fully understand, but at the same time, in a sense, we do. It involves, we can say, a mystery. Something that fascinates us and therefore pushes us beyond our limits, and in this way creates the transcendence that every Art must contain within itself and which must at the same time guide us. I don't know a better way to combine opposites. This approach contrasts with those violent conflicts we see all too often in the world, which give in to the destructive temptation to destroy everything foreign, unique and different, often using the most inhumane inventions that technology has put at our disposal. There is terrorism in the world. There is a war. Because man also has an animal side guided by the instinct to perceive the other as a stranger, as a threat to his very existence, rather than as a wondrous mystery. And this is how uniqueness – any difference we can all discern – disappears, leaving behind a general sameness, according to which anything different is a threat to be eliminated. What from the outside appears as a difference, for example in religious or political ideology, turns into something that must be defeated, destroyed. War is the campaign against what is deep within us: The Unique.

I spoke here of Art in general, not of theater or dramaturgy in particular, but I did so because, as I said, all good art, at its core, revolves around the same thing: It takes the supremely unique, the supremely specific, and the transforms into universal. It unites the particular with the universal through artistic expression: not by eliminating its particularity, but by emphasizing that particularity, making it shine through the unknown and the barely familiar.

War and Art are opposites, just like war and peace.

Just like that:

Art Is Peace



Translation into Greek from the Italian translation of the Norwegian original: Gina Karvounaki member of the International Theater Institute [ITI], the International Association of Theater Leaders [IATL] and Pen Greece


photo https://www.transitbooks.org/ 


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