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United Buddy Bears in Berlin

October 29, 2007

 

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United Buddy Bears in Berlin

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I came upon this interesting exhibition of United Buddy Bears in Berlin on the premises of the Hessische Staatskanzlei on my way to the Brandenburg Gate a few days ago. The United Buddy Bears are a group of art sculptures of bears representing all the countries in the world, each one painted by an artist from the country represented (see pictures here). Each artist received a basic bear form that they embellish in individual styles. This kind of urban public art is now a common feature of many cities but I first encountered it in the Chicago Cows on Parade exhibition in 1999. I have seen variations of this themed exhibition various American cities-- some interesting, others less so (panda bears on parade in San Francisco, horses on parade in Kentucky, a less than thrilling show of furniture on parade as a follow up to the wildly successful Cows theme in Chicago, etc.). The United Buddy Bears concept takes this one step further, since the sculptures are on a world tour that is meant to promote peace and global understanding. The project hopes to xmake us understand one another better, trust each other more, and live together more peacefullyx, lofty goals in a world increasingly devoted to esoteric forms of violence. The exhibition also seems appropriate to Berlin whose symbol is the bear.

 

 

The Berlin exhibition featured several bears representing African countries (click here for individual photos of each). The bear representing Nigeria was produced by artist Aniama Kenneth Dazaa who conferred the title Omekagu (one who is brave as a leopard) on his bear-sculpture. I have never heard of this artist but his entry was sponsored by the Embassy of Nigeria (according to information provided on the UBB website). Other African countries represented include South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Mali, Lesotho, Madagascar, Sao Tome and Principe, Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea, Ethiopia, Angola, Algeria, Egypt. African Diaspora countries like Cuba and Haiti were also represented. The United Buddy Bears sculptures are poignant and their appeal for world peace commendable. They have been touring the world since 2002 and are garnering many accolades. Below: Omekagu, pair of bears representing Namibia (Gizz Farrell) and Mozambique (artist: Livio de Morais), pair representing Haiti (artist: Fritz desRoches) and Guinea (artist: Mohamed Nana Kaba), and the Cuban Bear (artist: Nancy Torres).

 

 
 

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