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SF billboards display peace messages

May 27, 2008 2:54:44 PM PDT
What does peace look like? That was the question asked of ten artists from around the world. Their answers are on billboards across San Francisco.

The art installation kicked-off on this Memorial Day with a bus tour of the works.

In San Francisco's urban landscape, it can be hard to distinguish art from advertisement or otherwise.

A billboard at Broadway and Montgomery confused some European tourists.

"You're walking around in the adult area and then you see this image and at first, is it like part of a kinky show or something?" said Jeroen Geuens.

It is not. It is part of a ten-billboard project inspired by San Francisco artist and University of San Francisco professor Richard Kamler.

A bus tour of the works kicked-off the month-long installation.

Kamler asked ten artists from ten countries; including himself, what does peace look like? The question grew out of one of his long-held core beliefs.

"The role of art really was powerful to engage and transform society. I really believe that I know it sounds grandiose but I really believe that," said Richard Jamler.

Wanda Sabir signed-up for the tour because she wanted to think about peace on this Memorial Day otherwise spent remembering war-dead.

"Yeah to do something different on a day that's so sad," said Sabir.

South African photographer Clinton Fein says he tried to imagine what peace would look like for someone being tortured -- his billboard is a re-enactment from Abu-Graib.

"The bleak conclusion I came to, unless you're dead or unconscious you can't really see peace. Our reality precludes that," said Fein.

Kamler's work is on ninth at Judah. Jennie Douglass and Josh Farr pondered the four windows while waiting for the bus.

"I have no idea what it means. I'm glad it's not an advertisement," said Kamler.

Kamler says the open window looking out on empty space invites us all to imagine for ourselves what peace looks like.


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