On Saturday, May 11, 2019, the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR) and its project partners welcomed an official delegation from the German Foreign Ministry for a viewing of Artivism: The Atrocity Prevention Pavilion in Venice, Italy. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and his colleagues were given a tour of the exhibition by members of the Artivism curation team and AIPR staff.
Artivism, which recently celebrated its grand opening, introduces visitors to the personal, emotional, and historical realities of mass atrocities and invites attendees to learn about the essential role played by the arts as a grassroots tool for social transformation and a deterrent to systematic violence. To do so, the exhibition displays the work of six artists and art collectives who have used the arts as an instrument for responding to identity-based violence and its legacies.
In addition to this, Artivism works to empower each attendee to become an agent for change in her or his own right. In the final room of the exposition, AIPR has joined with several other prominent human rights organizations to provide each Artivism visitor with a series of complementary strategies that she or he can use to prevent genocide and create real and durable change in just 60 seconds, 60 minutes, and 60 days. For Foreign Minister Maas, opportunities like the call to action provided by Artivism are vital to combatting indifference and mobilizing communities around the world to act on our collective responsibility to build a world that prevents genocide and other mass atrocities.
In August of 2018, Foreign Minister Maas himself visited the grounds of Auschwitz-Birkenau, representing the first time a German Foreign Minister would set foot inside the camp since 1992. FM Mass has previously referred to Auschwitz as one of his primary motivations for entering public service and described the site as “the most horrible place on Earth.”
This past Holocaust Remembrance Day, he wrote in Welt am Sonntag:
Our history needs to move away from being a project of mere remembrance and increasingly become a project to promote knowledge… For that to succeed, memorial sites must be not only places of commemoration but also places of learning. Young people should not leave these sites with bowed heads, but with more in their heads. Remembrance should not be the stuff of museums, but the stuff of the present.
Artivism: The Atrocity Prevention Pavilion, which runs alongside the 58th Venice Art Biennale, will remain open to the public through November 24, 2019. Visiting is free of charge. For more information, including opening hours and location information, please visit www.artivism2019.com.