Artist’s peace goals shoot the moon

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Artist’s peace goals shoot the moon

For the World Culture Open 2004, Korean-American artist Kang Ik-joong, 44, is showcasing “The Dream Moon” in Goyang Lake Park in Gyeonggi province, from today until Wednesday.
The World Culture Open, which was put together by organizations around the world, had its first festival on Wednesday in New York. Through Sept. 19, it will take place in Seoul, Gyeonggi province and Pyeongyang. Many artistic works, such as in theater and dance, will be shown to the public during the festival, which will be held every other year.
Mr. Kang, who is famous for his installations, made the balloon by attaching 126,000 paintings that are 7.6 centimeters (3 inches) in width and length. All the paintings are drawn by children from 141 countries.
The artist wanted to promote peace and interaction among people by displaying the pure dreams expressed in the children’s paintings.
On the “Dream Moon,” one can see what 11-year-old Mathew Koss from the United States had to say. He wrote the words “peace and understanding” on his drawing of a world map. On another canvas, Azerbaijan’s Nadir, 11, painted a pigeon carrying the Earth.
Mr. Kang, whose nickname is “the three-inch artist,” has collected children’s drawings since 1999. He has enlisted the help of governments, embassies and civic organizations in obtaining the art, which he hopes will pull down the walls that separate people.
“The Dream Moon” shares that hope, as do his past works: “100,000 Dreams,” exhibited in Paju, Gyeonggi province in 1999, and “Amazed World,” 34,000 children’s drawings from 135 countries, unveiled in the U.N. headquarters in New York in 2001.
“I visited Senegal in Africa in 1992. Inside Senegal’s land area is another nation called Gambia,” said Mr. Kang. “Senegal was once France’s colony, and Gambia was England’s. Their national languages are still French and English, respectively. Then I thought it is ridiculous that Senegal and Gambia are struggling against each other using different languages while France and England are keeping a friendly relationship.”
Mr. Kang said that our reality is not much different from that of the two African countries. The United States and Russia, former Cold War enemies, have become allies, but South and North Korea are still fighting over the Cold War’s relics, ideology.
He said that the confrontation between South and North Korea is hard to understand, not to mention the ongoing ideological conflicts in South Korea. “The Dream Moon” was created as a symbol that he hopes will unite all Koreans and send a strong message of peace to the rest of the world.
“I like to compare our nation’s history to a tightrope walk. The left pole represents tradition and the past. The right pole is vision and the future. Culture is the tightrope walker that keeps the balance between the two poles,” said Mr. Kang.
He says that “The Dream Moon” is in the same spirit as the World Culture Open in that both are working toward a world of harmonious co-existence.
The artist has decided to dedicate himself to uniting the divided politics and the fragmented society in South Korea, and he’s willing to work for as long as it takes, just as a farmer patiently waits for his crops to ripen.
One day, he said confidently, his “peace seeds” will blossom.

by Park Jeong-ho
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