Remember the repeated burnings of the so called “degenerate art” during the Nazi rule that robed Europe and, subsequently the entire human civilization of thousands of priceless artworks by Picasso, Dalí, Miró and many other geniuses of the Modern Art movement?
Well, it was happening before, and it is now happening again! Recently a “Tolerance” poster exhibit in the city of Timisoara, Romania was repeatedly vandalized by those who wanted to censor its content. Posters that celebrated the rights of the LGBT community were stolen from the exhibition stands on numerous occasions and some social media posts later showed a number of them being violated and then set on fire, just like the forever-lost art that was turned to ash by the barbarians of the German Reich.
Not to compare the long lost masterpieces of the early 20th century with the contemporary posters, but there certainly are frightening parallels in the human behavior of what was happening eighty years ago in Europe and what we are witnessing in Romania today.
Actions like these make me think of an old saying: those who forget their past are destined to repeat it! It feels like this horrible, deadly pandemic cracked open many of the old wounds of this world, bringing up to the surface heartbreaking social issues such as racism and intolerance. Why do some people believe they have the right to express their own ideas, while denying others to do the same? And why do they feel the need to express themselves so aggressively? Perhaps this is the only way they know how? But vandalism is simply a sign of weakness, and not a form of expression!
This is precisely why the world needs projects like the “Tolerance” poster exhibit, now more than ever. We need to learn to respect one another, regardless of each other’s skin color, social status or gender affiliation. We need to learn to stand united against hatred, political rivalry and racial animosity, and posters about Tolerance, together with similar social initiatives can become the stepping stones on the way to our better, more compassionate future.
I’d like to appeal to our design community, asking them to show support for the artists and organizers of the “Tolerance” project, to encourage them and others like them to continue their work that is vital to the betterment of the human civilization.
The Tolerance Project
is a traveling poster show that asks prominent designers from around the world to create artworks with the word Tolerance in their language. In just two and a half years, the project, founded and curated by Mirko Ilić, has had more than 105 exhibitions in 31 countries around the world that was seen by over 200,000 people.