ZURAB TSERETELI TOOK PART IN THE ANNUAL MEETING OF UNESCO GOODWILL AMBASSADORS IN THE UNESCO HEADQUARTERS IN PARIS ON APRIL 3-4, 2007
In his speech at the Annual Meeting of UNESCO Goodwill Ambassadors in Paris on April 3, 2007 President of the Russian Academy of Arts and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Zurab Tsereteli focused on the following directions of his activity:
“Of special interest to me in my recent creative endeavors have been not only artistic tasks, but also problems relating to possibilities of the world improvement through art. Today, it is very important to make people understand how much can be achieved by the powerful impact of art affirming mutual understanding, respect and tolerance in relations among representatives of diverse cultures and religious confessions for the benefit of betterment of modern world community”.
Fighting against world terrorism through art
“My monuments created in the United States in previous years were dedicated to the victory of peace over war, will-power over diseases (monument “Happiness to Children of the World” donated by me to Kennedy-Shreiver Foundation – organizers of the first Special Olympic Games in Brockport, New York; “Good Defeats Evil” monument installed on the north lawn of the UN Headquarters in New York in honor of the end of the “cold war” inaugurated on the 45th anniversary of the United Nations)”.
“Tragic events on September 11, 2001 have reverberated in the hearts of people throughout the world. It was an unprecedented act of terror. I would like my monument to the struggle against world terrorism to be not only a memorial to victims of terrorism but to symbolize also our fighting for peace and safety for future generations. “The monument will serve as one more symbol of Russian-American unity against world terrorism”, - said Russian President Vladimir Putin at the groundbreaking ceremony for the monument in Bayonne, New Jersey presented as a gift to the American people.
The unveiling ceremony for the monument on September 11, 2006, attended by hundreds of people from New Jersey and New York (U.S.A.), Moscow and St. Petersburg (Russia), other cities of the world, representatives of diplomatic missions, figures of culture, victims’ family members, high ranking officials and ordinary people as well as opened by national anthems of Russia and the United States in the performance by Dina Kuznetsova and LeAnn Rimes, has become an international cultural action proving the victory of art over destruction and testifying to the significance of my initiative conceived as a starting point in combining joint efforts for combating the world evil. It is mutual respect and trust that can be a warrant to the world’s peaceful future. Numerous conflicts arising in various parts of our planet make us realize, that we need tolerance and mutual understanding, that all of us, though in various countries, live on the same planet in the age of global interdependence. We should stop to believe that our differences are more important than our common humanity.
The evil always reveals itself unexpectedly, loudly and equally terribly. “There is no difference between those who perished based on their religion – Moslems, Christians or Jews perished alike, men and women, republicans and democrats, Americans and foreigners, even legal and illegal, all died in the same terrible hours” – said at the ceremony the US Secretary of Home Security Michael Chertoff.
“Since September 11, the American people have had a full and difficult agenda: to ensure the families who lost their loved ones find the support they need to go on, to provide for our homeland defense and to defeat those that seek to undermine our values and our way of life. This sculpture conveys this important message, both through its artistic content and through its nature as a gift from one great nation to another” – noted Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in her letter of gratitude.
“The Russian people remember well and are grateful for words of sympathy and support from the United States authorities and the American people when Russia was attacked by terrorists in the theatrical center in Dubrovka in Moscow and in the city of Beslan” - said Sergei Mironov, Chairman of the Council of Federation of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation.
“I appreciate Zurab Tsereteli, the people of Russia, and all those involved with the “Tear of Grief” monument. Your efforts help preserve the memory of innocent lives and promote mutual understanding among nations. By working together, we can build a more peaceful world for our children and grandchildren” – said the United States President George Bush in his Letter of Greetings to the dedication ceremony attendees.
Similar words have been said not only in official speeches. I have heard them from people in the street, members of victims’ families who I met in America. Many of them represent a racial mosaic in the United States. I am confident, that efforts of people of good will across the world will be united and tears of grief will become tears of happiness”.
Art against AIDS
“All of us are aware, that in spite of enormous anti-AIDS endeavors of scientists, the situation with AIDS dissemination is aggravating. In many countries, including Russia, millions of people die of the dreadful disease. The epidemic is growing in India, China, Eastern Europe.
The possibility to overcome the expanding global epidemic depends both on scientific researches and actions of people worldwide to prevent the disease. The preventive measures comprising work in risk groups and education of people proved successful in some African countries.
The art affecting spectators puts a dilemma between death and future. Searching for an acupuncture, the most sensitive point in human conscience, it is capable to influence our decisions. We have a big spiritual and moral potential of fine arts to secure a better future for all people.
Many figures of art share these ideas and arrange various charitable events, anti-AIDS, anti-drug habit and anti-war actions. Though diverse in their forms, they all are aimed at fighting indifference to make people be responsible and take care of others. My response to the problem has been a sculptural composition sending us back to the Biblical times as I believe, that images of Adam and Eve are the most expressive. My work in the Institute of Ethnography and Archaeology of the Georgian Academy of Sciences in the 1960s, involvement in expeditions and excavations assured me for my entire life, that there is no future without history. My sculptural composition, which is on display in the Art Gallery in Moscow, represents two rings bundled like ribbons in a knot symbolizing strong and inviolable bonds of true love. Inside this “wreath” stand figures of Adam and Eve – eternal symbols of choice and responsibility for the freedom. The nature of freedom contains a “plus” and “minus|” and nowadays, humanity once again takes a choice. The sacramental “to be or not to be” questions us in the form of dreadful diseases. History and art are interconnected and supplement each other. It is of great significance to attract musicians, writers, film-makers, artists to the AIDS theme. I suggest arranging under the UNESCO auspices an exhibition of artworks on the AIDS topic by both professional artists and people infected with AIDS to help them overcome their pain and through art to send their warning to the world. In Moscow, I give monthly master-classes to children, including disabled kids. On a regular basis, we hold exhibitions of drawings by physically challenged children. I feel happy when I witness the process of recovery as a result of their self expression in art.
For my part, I would like to offer my assistance in arranging UNESCO cultural actions to be aimed at preventing and combating against AIDS. I hope, that this year’s conference on this urgent problem to be held in Moscow by our joint efforts will be successful and efficient”.
Dialogue among cultures as a form of the 21st century diplomacy promotion
“The 21st century Russian Committee , a public entity, set up on the initiative of the President of Russia and Japanese Prime-Minister for strengthening Russian and Japanese relations, suggested an idea to present as a gift to Japan a monument to Ichiro Hatoyama, eminent politician and former Japanese Prime Minister. In October, 2006 in Moscow was held a joint forum in honor of the 50th anniversary of signing the Japan-Soviet Joint Declaration ending the state of war between the two countries. The head of the Committee Mayor of Moscow Juri Luzhkov stressed a special role of the former Prime Minister, who advocated the normalization of relations with the Soviet Union and traveled to Moscow to sign the Joint Declaration in October 1956. The statue was offered as a gift to “Japan-Russia Association” now led by Yukio Hatoyama, Ichiro Hatoyama’s grandson. I hope, that the statue sculpted by me and installed in Tokyo will be another important step in the development of relations between the countries.
The Declaration signed by Ichiro Hatoyama has been one of the basics of intergovernmental relations between Japan and Russia. Given the significance of the document, the unveiling ceremony for the statue on February 28, 2007 was attended by the Chairman of the Russian Government Michael Fradkov and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, representatives of various political parties of Japan and high ranking officials from both sides. This cultural event that had a wide mass media coverage confirmed the uniting force of art. Today, many political figures in Russia and other countries, who I have spoken to, state that the powerful potential contained in the very nature of art should be actively used as a unique centuries-old experience of mankind for broadening the dialogue among peoples and cultures of the world”.
Promotion of mutual respect, understanding and tolerance through art
“On December 10, 2006 in Ploermel (France, Bretagne) was unveiled my statue to Pope John Paul 11 . Before the inauguration, the monument was discussed among religious and political leaders who showed their support of my initiative.
“This event is sure to highlighten once again the meaning of privileged partnership and special character of relations between Russia and France” – said Sergei Lavrov, the Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation.
“The statue has been designed by the President of the Russian Academy of Arts, Christian by faith. It will be a precious gift from your great country to Catholics of France” – noted His Grace Raymond Centene Bishop of Vannes in his letter to the Russian President Vladimir Putin. “We express our enormous gratitude and support this possibility to strengthen ties between the Russian Orthodox and Catholic Churches”. The Patriarch of Moscow and All-Russia Alexi 11 gave his blessing to the monument that is a “manifestation of the spirit of collaboration and tolerance”.
In the letter to the Bishop of Vannes, where the city of Ploermel is located, on behalf of Pontiff Benedict ХV1 it has been noted, that “ the statue will remind people of the indefatigable pilgrim of justice and peace John Paul 11 and call people of good will to defend aesthetic and spiritual values”.
The religious topic takes a special place in my creative activity. Besides my monumental works of art on the Biblical history, I have created sculptural images of St. Nicholas (Bari, Italy), St. Nino (Tbilisi, Georgia), Mother Teresa (Moscow, Russia).
The events arranged by the city of Ploermel serve as a vivid example of interaction of cultures and religions. The inauguration became a meeting place for such distinguished people as Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of the Kyrgyz Republic to Belgium, renowned writer Chinghiz Aitmatov, spaceman Jean-Loup Cretien, representatives of the Vatikan and other world confessions.
“To the mankind, that seems lost and thrown into the power of sin, selfishness and fear the resurrected God sends His forgiving and conciliating Love inspiring a hope. It is the love that gives peace. The world should understand and accept the God’s Mercy!” These are words from the last message of Pope John Paul 11 to the faithful used by the Pontiff in the prayer Regina Coeli on April 3, 2005). I think, it is this message that should be the guideline in relations among representatives of world religions in the future”.
Principle directions of the Russian Academy of Arts Activity on the eve of its 250th anniversary
“In November, 2007 the Russian Academy of Arts is going to celebrate the 250th anniversary of its foundation. The President of Russia Vladimir Putin has issued a Decree on celebration of this event. The anniversary has been included into the list of dates with which UNESCO will be associated in 2006-2007.
The Program of the Academy jubilee comprises many events both in Russia and other countries. In May, 2007 in Paris will be held an exhibition of my works of art in the UNESCO exhibition halls, which is a kind of my report as President of the Russian Academy of Arts and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.
Festivities and exhibition projects are scheduled to be arranged in Moscow and St. Petersburg (Russia). We will be honored, if UNESCO Goodwill Ambassadors consider a possibility of their participation in the jubilee events and accept our invitations.
Besides celebrations, the Program includes a big amount of restoration work, maintenance and reconstruction of the Academy buildings in Moscow and St. Petersburg, digitalized inventory of the vast collection of the Academy museum; publishing activity.
For two recent years, the traveling exhibition of my works of art has been displayed in many regions of Russia. The Academy departments and art schools were set up in Tatarstan (the city of Kazan) and in the Volga region (Samara). The Academy department of the Urals, |Siberia and Far East as well as creative workshops in Krasnoyarsk have been actively engaged in all aspects of the Academy activities.
The Academy has done much to expand its international relations. Many distinguished artists from various countries have been elected honorary members of the Russian Academy of Arts. The Russian Academy of Arts can boast of its contacts with art educational institutions and museums in Europe and Asia. Since its foundation, the Academy has been a center for mutual penetration of cultures and contributed to promotion of a dialogue between European and Russian art. It has preserved a unique system of Russian academic art school to be used for training of the 21st century students.
It was my charitable action to establish the first in Russia Moscow Museum of Modern Art in 1997. The idea was supported by the Academy members and resulted in the considerable expansion of exhibition space for showing to the public all trends and directions of modern art, including Russian avante-garde. The Museum is going to open its affiliates in Tbilisi (Georgia), and New York (U.S.A).
Not long ago, the Academy set up a department of design and multimedia technologies. Among my plans is the establishment of an educational entity for artistic fabrication on the basis of the Academy educational institutions where students will be trained to work in diverse techniques and materials, major in new technologies and have an opportunity to practice in the Academy foundry in St. Petersburg and in its creative workshops”.
Some aspects of my work in the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation
“The Public Chamber of the Russian Federation initiated by President Vladimir Putin is a recognized public entity which goal is to deepen an interaction between the authorities and citizens of Russia.
As a member of the Public Chamber’s Commission on Promotion of Charitable Activity, in association with European and American attorneys I have prepared and submitted for consideration of the Public Chamber experts my proposals on alterations to be made in the acting Russian laws in the field of philanthropy and charity. I have also submitted a number of proposals in relation to the copyright laws aimed at their correlation with international standards”.