Korea, 2' x 2', acrylic on wood panel, $225
In August 2017, Donald Trump threatened North Korea with "fire and fury like the world has never seen." But we HAVE seen it and North Korea experienced it! “Korea was a man-made hell with a place among the most violent excesses of the 20th century.” During the Korean War, the United States annihilated North Korea cities with napalm, blanket fire bombing, and the destruction of dams (against the Geneva Convention) which devastated their food supply. The overall death toll was staggering: about three million were civilians (one out of every ten Koreans).
Much of the Western media presents North Korea as untrustworthy negotiator, proven not to keep their agreements. Most news articles depict their paranoia and distrust of the US as an invalid excuse to build up their military defense system. Though North Korea has obvious humanitarian issues of valid concern, it should not blind us from North Korea's rational desire for having a military deterrence.
The 1953 Armistice did not end the war but included all parties suspending open hostility and withdrawal of all military forces and equipment from a 4,000-meter-wide zone, establishing the Demilitarized Zone. But America has had a dangerous habit of reneging on this agreement not to threaten North Korea. It was the US that broke the armistice agreement that permitted no new weapons -- including nuclear and other advanced weapons -- to be brought onto the Korean Peninsula. In January 1958 the US placed nuclear-tipped missiles in South Korea. It was not until September 1991 that the US removed approximately 100 nuclear weapons from South Korea.
Past agreements in 1994 and 2005 with North Korea show that diplomacy was a possible route to nuclear disarmament. And when each agreement stopped working, the Americans were chiefly responsible for the failure. So, it was the US and South Korea -- not North Korea -- that threateningly broke the weapons clause of the armistice agreement and introduced nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula. After 33 years of threatening behavior from the US and South Korea is it impossible to fathom why North Korea would want to build a defense system?
More recently there are talks of peace, of once again removing weapons, threats, and troops from the peninsula. North and South are willing and say they want to officially end the war. But will the US allow it? Will we remove our weapons? Will we be the ones to keep threatening - peace by war - or will we support Peace by Peace?
Compilation and opinion of JoAnn Moran with supporting quotes from Noam Chomsky and excerpts from Correcting History: Five Things No One Wants to Say About Korea, By Ted Snider
The artwork depicts doves flying in bomber formation. It is a nod of sorts to those who see the beauty in war. The strange beauty in choreographed armed marchers in North Korea is hard to place beside our outrage and by use of birds of war transposing the notion that bombs, not peaceful negotiations, are the only way to overcome conflict and disagreements. But overwhelmingly it is the doves that make the image, consistent, pervasive, dedication to nonviolent action against war is the duel and duality presented in these artworks.
JoAnn Moran is a muralist living in New Haven and sometimes on her sailboat. She produces murals by commission or leading participatory projects for schools and communities. She has worked with over 60, 000 people of all ages and abilities in towns and cities in the US and abroad to support positive social change.
My work in the public sphere seeks to create inclusion in the practice and purpose of art and art making. Specializing in coordinating community participation projects, I am a founding member of ART25, a project that seeks to expand public engagement in the arts. I truly believe art-making is a unique experience that shapes us as individuals and societies.
Projects like ART25 liberate art and the artistic experience from its "proper" home in museums into everyday life. I see the value of art more in the process, of working out resistance and conflict rather than attaining perfection. In the words of my philosophical hero John Dewey “Mere perfection in execution, judged in its own terms in isolation, can probably be attained better by a machine than by human art.” Do we really aspire to be more machine or more human? . . . . .Got ART?