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Request for Acts of Mediation

  • Deadline:
    May 24, 2002, 1 a.m.

US Department of Art & Technology
PO Box 32265 Washington, DC 20007
Office of the Secretary

May 24, 2002

Dear Rhizome Community:

I have a very special request to ask of you as part of your
commitment to advancing cultural dialogue worldwide.

On June 19th, 7pm, at the Goethe-Institut Inter Nationes in
Washington, DC, the US Department of Art & Technology is organizing
the World Mediation Summit, which is convening under the theme, "The
Artist as Mediator on the World Stage." The scheduling of the event
has been timed to honor the opening of Documenta 11 in Kassel,
Germany, which this year is concerned with socially engaged
"platforms" that explore the public communicative process.

It is in this spirit that the World Mediation Summit has been
conceived as a "ceremonial cultural exchange" in which I will present
to the US Department of State an artist-generated,
collectively-authored proclamation consisting of imaginative
methodologies and acts of mediation for intensifying intercultural
dialogue in these troubling times of crisis. This ceremonial
presentation of the proclamation to a representative of the State
Department will be conducted in the presence of US Department of Art
& Technology staff, as well as a consortium of cultural officials
from Washington embassies representing at least six nations. It is
our intent that this document, a critique of the Administration's
handling of the "war on terror" since 9-11, be transmitted within the
State Department to Secretary Powell, who will in turn submit it for
final transmission to President Bush.

I am asking the Rhizome Community to contribute to the collective
authorship of the proclamation by submitting a brief statement to be
included in the document. Think of this as a manifesto for reforming
the Administration's ignorance and lack of appreciation for cultural
concerns! This is an important opportunity for all of you who are
deeply entrenched in artistic expression, cultural issues, and the
general state of humanity, to offer new methodologies based on your
artistic and critical practice for confronting the violence and
turmoil that is rapidly spreading throughout the world. We intend to
provide the State Department with effective and creative tools for
strengthening the hand of its cultural officers. Unfortunately,
President Bush, along with the Department of State and the Security
Council, are clueless - they desperately need the help of the arts
community, which is why I am turning to you now. The US Department of
Art & Technology strongly believes that in our society, the artist
and cultural critic is a largely untapped, yet powerful force for
understanding and resolving differences that have lead to recent acts
of aggression and violence.

To guide the writing of your statements, the following is a list of
key recommendations to the Administration's approach and policy that
our proclamation seeks to state:

(1) to deepen its attentiveness to the richness and complexity of the
world's many distinct cultures, particularly in areas of conflict;

(2) to avoid what is being perceived in the world as a tone of aggression;

(3) to adopt and project a nuanced view of the world's social
conditions beyond a misleading division into "good and evil;"

(4) to reiterate the value and power of meaningful cultural dialogue
in its overall foreign policy.

I am deeply concerned with the Administration's lack of interest and
ability in bringing about a meaningful cultural exchange to solve
international conflicts, and it is my hope, through your input, to
expand upon the hope and possibility of a peaceful, more
culturally-engaged world, and to redefine the role of the artist (and
cultural critic) as a mediator on the world stage.

Each of you who submit a statement (keep them short, approximately 1
to 3 sentences) will be appropriately credited (unless you wish to
remain anonymous) and will receive a copy of the completed
proclamation prior to the World Mediation Summit. Please return your
statement in a timely manner (within one week), and please don't
hesitate to write if you have questions.

For more information on the World Meditation Summit visit the
Department Website:

As Andre Breton said, "perhaps the imagination is on the verge of
recovering its rights!"

Randall Packer
Secretary, US Department of Art & Technology