Michelangelo Pistoletto‘s art is ready to launch a message of peace in reference to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict: it was UNECE which announced the start of the project that will bring a new installation of the artist’s Third Paradise to Kharkiv. The fact that it was the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, one of the five economic commissions that report to the United Nations Economic and Social Council, to spread the news is no coincidence: the artist, together with Cittadellarte, had already created an impressive work of art that represents the essence of the concept of rebirth with a permanent installation at the United Nations’ headquarters in Geneva, unveiled in 2015, on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the United Nations. The sculpture, entitled Rebirth and inspired by the trinamic symbol, is composed of 193 stones – each representing a current member state of the United Nations – connected to one another by the shared concept of harmonious coexistence between countries. Thus, as stated in UNECE’s note, it is placed to form a symbol of the ‘rebirth of multilateralism’, where the two outer circles represent opposing and contradictory elements, which come together in the central circle to create balance, harmony and peace.
Michelangelo Pistoletto’s work conveys the desire of the mayor of Kharkiv to rebuild his city and sends a signal of recovery to its citizens and the world: “This work of art,” said the artist in reference to the Third Paradise, “is an inspiration for a world in which two sides, no matter what they are, are always able to meet and dialogue in a third ‘circle’ and generate rebirth. This symbol was not created as a merely aesthetic work of art, but to produce practices of inclusion, reconciliation and sustainability in all sectors of society. The Kharkiv sculpture will stand as a social statement, representing the rebirth of all humanity. It is not a monument erected after a war: this work was created to prevent war, not only to follow it. It is time to change our cultural paradigms and even business models and understand that peace and sustainability are the only viable options”. As agreed with Kharkiv’s Mayor Terekhov, the sculpture will be designed now and built as soon as possible to make the city of Kharkiv a timeless model of peace.
Mayor Ihor Terekhov expressed deep thanks to Pistoletto for his ‘desire to join and participate in the project of rebirth for Kharkiv’, a city which before the war was a cultural centre, a place where great thinkers and intellectuals could freely work and discuss. “We want to preserve and promote that essence,” the first citizen emphasised, “the war is creating an opportunity to look many years ahead, allowing for us to envision Kharkiv as a magnet for residents and future visitors”. As reported by UNECE, in recent months Mayor Terekhov has already been working on a new masterplan for the city with architect Norman Foster. The politician, satisfied with the work already undertaken with the Norman Foster Foundation, has made it his personal mission to begin to imagine a city that can be reborn from the ashes of conflict. “The Norman Foster Foundation,” reads the press note, “also welcomes this cooperation. Lord Foster has opened the door to a new diplomacy, in which architects and artists work with citizens, and civic leaders have a say in planning the city of the future. Opening the last Mayors’ Forum at the UN in Geneva, Lord Foster reminded us that, historically, cities have always bounced back stronger from crisis. They will continue to be the drivers of opportunity, innovation and liberation”.
UNECE, for its part, is coordinating a task force of 14 UN agencies and international organisations working on the development of approaches for an integrated rehabilitation of the cities. The task force in question is also driving rehabilitation approaches in Kharkiv, while local Ukrainian architects are working with the community to develop a masterplan for the reconstruction of the city.
“Cittadellarte – Fondazione Pistoletto wholeheartedly embraces the initiative,” said director Paolo Naldini, “Pistoletto and his team have developed programmes to involve local communities and citizens in the co-creation of spaces to address the most relevant challenges. Art installations and interventions in the public space,” he concluded, “are conceived and developed collectively as enablers of individual freedom and social responsibility in long-term engagement processes”.