This is an excerpt from our publication Can Art Aid in Resolving Conflicts?: 100 Perspectives, authored by Noam Lemelshtrich Latar, Ornat Lev-er and Jerry Wind. In it, over 100 leading and emerging architects, artists, curators, choreographers, composers, and directors of art institutions around the globe explore the potentially constructive role of the arts in conflict resolution. Below, Israeli sculptor Dani Karavan, who lives and works in Tel Aviv and Paris, responds to the titular question. While Karavan’s work spans artistic mediums, he is best known for site-specific environmental sculptures that he has created the world over since representing Israel at the 1976 Venice Biennale.

'The question of whether art could or should play a constructive role in resolving conflicts is a very difficult one. Of course it should, but how? I am trying to find examples of how art solved conflicts or helped build bridges in conflicting situations, but unfortunately I am unable to remember such instances. It goes without saying that art should have a constructive role in solving conflicts, but I do not think anyone has a formula or a system for how to achieve this goal. I do not think art has the power to influence people and prevent them from committing a crime. I am afraid I am unable to answer this question.

I do not have any examples that could show how art played a constructive role in conflict areas.

Since I do think art should be involved and do everything in its power to help avoid conflicts or political situations that could hurt people, the environment, animals, etc., I reach the conclusion that art does have the power, in some circumstances, to address conflicts and pain.


Header: Dani Karavan, The White Square, 1977-1988 | Top: Dani Karavan, Axe Majeur (detail), 1980-ongoing | Bottom: Dani Karavan, The Sinti & Roma Memorial, 1999-2012

One example that comes to mind is Picasso’s Guernica, which warned against the death and destruction that were to follow during the Second World War by addressing the bombardment of Guernica by the Germans and their allies. Yet Picasso’s painting could not assist in avoiding the outbreak or the implications of the Second World War, which took the lives of millions.

I try to imagine whether SS soldiers listened to Bach, Mozart, Schubert, or Beethoven, and it appears that this did not have much influence on them while committing their crimes.

I have no doubt that Goya’s series of 82 prints titled The Disasters of War was created with the will to influence conflicts. I am sure that many artists took this endeavor upon themselves, but, unfortunately, art’s power is very limited when it comes to this topic.'