Finding a place for peace

August 23, 2012 10:02 pm | Updated August 24, 2012 05:34 pm IST - Washington:

Anil Revri and his creation "Wall for Peace". Photo: Narayan Lakshman

Anil Revri and his creation "Wall for Peace". Photo: Narayan Lakshman

When is a nearly-seven-foot-tall black block of ticker tape a poignant symbol of inter-religious harmony? For Indian-American artist Anil Revri, it’s when the artwork carries a stream of profound messages of peace from six major religions into the consciousness of passers-by at Washington’s Dulles International Airport (IAD).

In the wake of troubling displays of religious hatred and ethnic stereotyping in the U.S. such as the recent deadly shootings at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, Mr. Revri hopes the Wall for Peace tickers will really be “breaking news that the message of peace is urgent and it needs to be addressed right now”. The religions represented in his work are Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism.

In each band is a message from each of the six religions scrolling across the surface ad infinitum . “Rays of light emanating from the unit projected on to the viewers as they walk around the work... a symbolic act of cleansing of religious and racial prejudices,” Mr. Revri says of his unusual piece. The Wall also found a place at American University Museum’s Katzen Arts Center in Washington earlier this year. Though the “sculpture” will remain firmly fixed in IAD’s Concourse A/B at least until March 2013, its creator has ambitions to take it to sites that have seen violent episodes, including the Taj or Oberoi in Mumbai, where the 26/11 terror attacks unfolded. In such places, “it can bring about interfaith dialogue, by clearly stating to those who come from [the six] religions, that it is their own religions that talk about peace and how similar they are in their take on this [subject],” Mr. Revri said to a small media group at a walk-through of the display.

Mr. Revri credits IAD for promoting this work. Margaret Bishop, a key IAD official behind the Revri display, said to The Hindu that while airports at Albany, Austin, Philadelphia, San Francisco, certainly led the way in art displays on site, IAD had a budget for procuring works such as Mr. Revri’s that improved the aesthetic content of a sometimes stressful airport experience.

So not just peace between religions then, but also a measure of tranquillity at security-check.

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