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Curator's Statement

Many of us hope for peaceful existence but unfortunately there is still daily violence and terrorism against innocent people in many corners of this world. Reasonable people should welcome the message of coexistence and take it into their hearts and minds. Coexistence is more than a concept and more than a popular idea for our new global culture. It involves changing our lives and changing the way we think. Coexistence is not necessarily learning to live together but perhaps learning to live side by side.

The Museum on the Seam is a pioneering museological attempt to present a difficult reality in search of a solution. The Museum does not offer any political solutions but calls on people to dialogue.

The world in which we live today is in need of a great deal of good will and love. Extremes of poverty and wealth exist side by side with a great division between them and hostility and suspicion are growing on the other side of the fences that people have built. We would do well to learn to support each other instead of weakening one another. We would do well to learn to understand the differences between us and to appreciate and value these differences.

These days, it is most important that a sane voice calls for a logical and cultured dialogue, and at the same time rejects all forms of violence. The message of tolerance and understanding must be heard in every corner of the world and in every possible venue. Particularly during times of distress and anger, it is our role to be the heart and voice of all those calling for dialogue and a return to reasonable discussion.

People tend to build walls to protect themselves. Perhaps there was a time when walls were useful, but today concrete walls cannot protect people from each other. More so, sometimes we need to protect ourselves from ourselves.

I am even more concerned about the walls people build in their hearts, walls that are built in the hearts of children when their world is destroyed, mental walls that are built in a moment of fear and hate and incitement. Many years of education and a great deal of effort will be needed to break down these walls.

We are asking ourselves how we arrived at these terrible days - those of us who are within the conflict and those who are watching from outside and do not understand. What is happening today all over the world is a cycle that cannot be broken without brave and inspired leaders who must solve the problems with generosity, mutual understanding and non-violent thinking. What we need today in many places in the world is more consideration, kindness, modesty and love.

We are not better, we are different from each other. We cannot continue to educate future generations with a misunderstanding that is based in difference. We cannot allow the misunderstandings to triumph over the insight and compassion within us. We have to hope and to act, each of us and all of us together.

I want to believe that this exhibition will serve as a catalyst for positive thinking. That it will contribute positive energy to people who will be encouraged to act with restraint and understanding, with generosity and thoughtfulness to the "other". Let us hope that our modest contribution to this effort will make a difference.

The initiators of this exhibition are artists who joined together from around the world to express their feelings and their desire to influence through their art.

This exhibition that is making its way from city to city is an example of what each of us can contribute, in our own fields, to improving relations between people. When I began this journey two years ago, I did not know where it would lead, but now after the exhibition has been displayed in the center of a number of cities and is scheduled for many more, with the expectation that new artists will also be added, signs of hope can be detected. Many people are joining this journey of a thousand miles that began with one step. I believe that the initiative the Museum took on, will fulfill its mission. This is the power of partnership.

If everyone of us, in his own way, and in his daily existence, would think about how we can contribute, in small but meaningful ways to the message that all people are equal and responsible for each other than one morning we will wake up in a better world.

Let us hope, that art will make its contribution to the preservation of our society and toward the betterment of human relations across the world and we will be the messengers of good will in this cause. We may never know how much art contributes to public opinion and how it influences an individual's thoughts. This exhibition intends to highlight in a creative way the art of living together. Here we see art as a language with no boundaries. It is therefore, universal and it speaks to all ages, religions and nationalities.

Raphie Etgar
Jerusalem


Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, University of Minnesota © 2004