Given the times we live in, there is much talk of peace. But what does the word mean? Different things in different contexts, as a new exhibition at the Jewish Museum demonstrates.
- Presents various perspectives on the concept
- Invites thought and questions
- Runs Nov 7, 2023 to May 26, 2024
- Book Jewish Museum tickets* online
- See also
What’s in a word?
(View of the exhibition; press photo © David Bohmann)
We all want peace. But we might not all be talking about the same thing. What feels like a simple concept takes on new depth once you give it some thought.
Peace as an absence of war? That’s a primary definition.
But consider how we use the word in such phrases as “at peace,” “inner peace” or a “peaceful society” and we already discover considerable nuance, even before we get to religious, legal, and cultural interpretations.
An exhibition at the Jewish Museum, developed in cooperation with the Herbert C. Kelman Institute for Conflict Transformation, offers up various perspectives on the concept.
Three rooms present interpretations of peace in its widest sense, underpinned by relevant exhibits and art.
So we have religious perspectives, particularly in relation to Judaism. We have mediators of peace, such as the UN or trade agreements. Peace as it relates to dialogue, law, justice, sociopolitics, feminism or pacifism. And so on.
The effect is, much as with the preceding exhibition on Guilt, to make you pause and ponder rather than offer any clear conclusions.
(Osama Zatar: Isaiah #1. From the series Isaiah 2.4. Wood, metal. Press photo © and courtesy of the artist)
So, for example, you might ask if peace is ever possible in a world threatened by environmental catastrophe. Or weigh up to what extent violence is justified in pursuit of peace, which opens up all sorts of further considerations.
Questions follow questions.
Although conceived long ago, many of the displays gain extra resonance through events in eastern Europe and elsewhere.
We learn, for example, of the work of the Israeli Women Wage Peace initiative (and its Palestinian equivalent), which brought together people from across divides.
We see Hundertwasser’s design for a peace flag for the Holy Land, combining colours and symbols of the different communities there.
We view the work of the Palestinian artist Osama Zatar, where a gun is transformed literally into a shovel, echoing the swords into plowshares concept.
And we examine Zoya Cherkassky-Nnadi’s juxtaposed pre- and post-war “memories” of her Russian childhood.
Nuance, complexity and the current context add a layer of sadness to the small exhibition, since you wish peace was a more simple destination. But hope remains.
Dates, tickets & tips
Contemplate peace between November 7th, 2023 and May 26th, 2024. An entrance ticket for or from the Jewish Museum includes the exhibition.
(Booking service provided by Tiqets.com*, who I am an affiliate of)
How to get there
Peace takes place at the Judenplatz part of the Jewish Museum. Check the bottom of the main museum article for travel tips.
Address: Judenplatz 8, 1010 Vienna