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THE REYKJAVÍK HARBOR – THE HEART OF THE CITY

In May 2012, Sigmarsson was watching a report on the evening news about the Association of Icelandic Ports and its intention to refurbish the Reykjavík Harbor. Apparently, much of the jetty was to be removed and discarded. It occurred to him then that the wood might be recycled and used to make furniture. And this was the beginning of a brand new idea.

In autumn, a group headed by Sigmarsson obtained permission to take the wood being thrown away by the Reykjavík Harbor. He then began to dry and plane it in preparation for the project. He soon discovered that much of the material was perfect for what he had in mind, i.e. stylish handmade furniture. Aside from being environmentally friendly, this recycling was also a kind of resurrection. Way back in 1903, the very same material was used to construct a dock for the herring fleet, which later became a part of the Reykjavik Harbor that was constructed between 1913 and 1917. Closer examination revealed that the some of the wood originally came from a German schooner that sank off the south coast of Iceland in 1890. The vessel was brought to Reykjavik and disassembled for scrap. Fascinatingly, research indicated that that the trees may have been more than 200 years old when they were first used for shipbuilding.

The wood is pine, which can live anywhere from 100 to 1000 years. The oldest preserved pinewood dates back nearly five thousand years. The Romans commonly used pine and other conifer wood to build many of their houses. The recycled wood from the harbor gives the furniture a characteristic look and holds part of Reykjavík’s history at the same time.

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THE PORT OF HAMBURG

The Equator Artist Group acquired some old wood from the Port of Hamburg and obtained permission to use three different types of material used in the harbor. Next summer the group plans to create furniture and art pieces from these ruins in cooperation with German artists. The Hamburg Port’s 825th Anniversary will be held in 2014.

The Port of Hamburg (Hamburger Hafen) is a port in Hamburg, Germany, on the river Elbe. The harbour is located 110 kilometres from the mouth of the Elbe into the North Sea. It is called Germany’s “Gateway to the World” and is the largest port in Germany. The port is the third-busiest port in Europe and 15th-largest worldwide.

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THE BUDDHAS of BAMIYAN

The Buddhas of Bamiyan were two 6th-century monumental statues of standing buddha carved into the side of a cliff in the Bamyan valley in the Hazarajat region of central Afghanistan, northwest of Kabul. The statues represented the classic blended style of Gandhara art.The main bodies were hewn directly from the sandstone cliffs, but details were modeled in mud mixed with straw, coated with stucco.

The statues were dynamited and destroyed by the Taliban, on orders from leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, after the Taliban government declared that they were idols. The statues were destroyed by dynamite over several weeks, starting on 2 March 2001, carried out in stages. Initially, the statues were fired at for several days using anti-aircraft guns and artillery. In the end, the Taliban lowered men down the cliff face and placed explosives into holes in the Buddhas. After one of the explosions failed to completely obliterate the face of one of the Buddhas, a rocket was launched that left a hole in the remains of the stone head. Taliban ambassador-at-large Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi said that the destruction of the statues was carried out by the Head Council of Scholars after a Swedish monuments expert proposed to restore the statues’ heads. Hashimi is reported as saying: “When the Afghan head council asked them to provide the money to feed the children instead of fixing the statues, they refused and said, ‘No, the money is just for the statues, not for the children’. Herein, they made the decision to destroy the statues”; however, he did not comment on the claim that a foreign museum offered to “buy the Buddhist statues, the money from which could have been used to feed children. The destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas despite protests from the international community has been described by Michael Falser, a heritage expert at the Center for Transcultural Studies in Germany, as an attack by the Taliban against the globalising concept of “cultural heritage”. The director general of the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Koichiro Matsuura called the destruction a “…crime against culture. It is abominable to witness the cold and calculated destruction of cultural properties which were the heritage of the Afghan people, and, indeed, of the whole of humanity. After the destruction of the Buddhas, 50 caves were revealed. In 12 of the caves, wall paintings were discovered.

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THE BERLIN WALL

The Berlin Wall was officially referred to as the “Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart” (German: Antifaschistischer Schutzwall) by GDR authorities, implying that neighbouring West Germany had not been fully de-Nazified. The West Berlin city government sometimes referred to it as the “Wall of Shame”—a term coined by mayor Willy Brandt—while condemning the Wall’s restriction on freedom of movement. Along with the separate and much longer Inner German border (IGB), which demarcated the border between East and West Germany, it came to symbolize the “Iron Curtain” that separated Western Europe and the Eastern Blocduring the Cold War. In 2014 will be 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. This project provides a great story for the former east and west. Now parts of the Wall can be recycled.

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LIVERPOOL AND THE SLAVE TRADE

Liverpool was a major slaving port and its ships and merchants dominated the transatlantic slave trade. The town and its inhabitants derived great civic and personal wealth from the trade which laid the foundations for the port’s future growth. Between 1700 and 1800, Liverpool in north-west England was transformed from not much more than a fishing village into one of the busiest slave-trading ports in the world and thence into a general trading port and city without peer in the 19th and 20th Centuries. An estimated 15 million Africans were transported as slaves to the Americas between 1540 and 1850. Ships from Liverpool was bound up in a global trading – known as Triangular Trade and accounted for more than 40% of the European slave trade.

The legacy of the slave trade can still be seen around Liverpool today, many streets are named after wealthy shipping merchants who made their money from slavery including Penny Lane – named after James Penny and made famous in the Beatles song. The team has now sent request to the Mayor of Liverpool and the Liverpool City Council for the possibility of donating material /ruins from the history of Liverpool’s slave traders to the project which can be recycled into new art pieces for the cause of freedom.

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THE CZECH VILLAGE OF LIDICE

The Equator Project Team are now working on to obtain materials from the Czech village of Lidice, population 503 in 1942, had existed for hundreds of years; perhaps a thousand. The first written mention of the village dates from around 1300.

Following the assassination in Prague of SS Reichsprotector Reinhard Heydrich in the II World War, a man so brutal even Heinrich Himmler was afraid of him, the Nazis made a brutal move. A man serving in the Czechoslovak army in Britain was from Lidice; his family, the Horáks, remained in the village. The Gestapo unit based in the city of Kladno became suspicious that the Horák family had something to do with Heydrich’s death. They searched the house and found no sign that the family had been involved in any way with the assassination, but the Nazis wanted blood, and they were determined to have it.

“The Lidice Massacre” Very early in the morning of June 10, 1942, cameras shot silent footage of the events at Lidice. The Horák farm served as the execution ground for 173 males above the age of sixteen; all were shot to death. The women and children were taken to the gym of the elementary school in Kladno.  Three days later, the children were taken from their mothers. The women were sent to the Ravensbruck concentration camp. The children – the youngest a year and six days old – were sent to Lodz, Poland. There they lived for the next three weeks.  Then, an order came that they were to be sent to the Chelmno death camp.“The Children of Lidice” The children were told to undress for a “shower” before the journey. In their underwear, holding soap and towels, they were loaded onto a truck that had been modified so that the exhaust fumes were sent into the back of the vehicle. Within eight minutes, the children in the truck were dead. There had been 105 children in Lidice. Seventeen survived the war. It took more than two years after the war’s end to find the final survivor and bring him home. Now that the village and its buildings were empty, the Nazis burned, then blew up, the structures. They razed the church and desecrated the cemetery. It took little time for the news of the Lidice massacre to spread around the world. At least four towns worldwide are now named Lidice; so are many women born during and after that time. On June 10, 1945, a peace rally was held, attended by some of the women who had survived the massacre. Seventeen children survived. 143 women came back to what was once home. In 1947, the Czech government began to rebuild Lidice. The new village rose approximately 150 meters from the former site. On June 19, 1955, a rose garden opened in the “Park of Peace and Friendship”.

GULAG

The Equator Artists Group are now working on to obtain materials from the former Soviet Union – Gulag (Kolyma camps). The Gulag was the government agency that administered the main Soviet forced labor camp systems during the Stalin era, from the 1930s until the 1950s.

While the camps housed a wide range of convicts, from petty criminals to political prisoners, large numbers were convicted by simplified procedures, such as NKVD troikas and other instruments of extrajudicial punishment (the NKVD was the Soviet secret police). About 14 million people were in the Gulag labor camps from 1929 to 1953 (the estimates for the period 1918-1929 are even more difficult to be calculated). A further 6–7 million were deported and exiled to remote areas of the USSR, and 4–5 million passed through labor colonies, plus 3.5 million already in, or sent to, ‘labor settlements’. Life in the camp was dominated by countless directives and prohibitions. The conditions were oppressive and life-threatening. On their arrival, the inmates frequently found themselves in provisional camps or had to build them themselves. Isolated from society and subjected to inhumane conditions, they now lived a life consisting of heavy labour and a constant struggle for survival. The new arrivals had to find their places within the inmate hierarchy, which was usually ruled by criminal prisoners. A rigid schedule governed the daily routine. Early wake-up call, agonizing roll calls every morning and evening, often at inconceivably low temperatures, and strength-sapping marches to the place of work. Gruelling working hours were the rule, alleviated by only a few short breaks. A day of rest was a rarity.

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THE BOMBING OF GUERNICA  ‘Refusing the night the wounds and blows’

The bombing of Guernica (26 April 1937) was an aerial attack on the Basque town of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War. It was carried out at the behest of the Spanish nationalist government by its allies, the German air force’s Condor Legion and the Italian Aviazione Legionaria, under the code name: Operation Rügen. The bombing is considered one of the first raids on a defenceless civilian population by a modern air force. The number of victims of the attack is still disputed; the Basque government reported that 1,654 people had died. The bombing was the subject of a famous anti-war painting by Pablo Picasso. It was also depicted in a woodcut by the German artist Heinz Kiwitz, who was later killed fighting in the International Brigades. The bombing shocked and inspired many other artists, including a sculpture by René Iché, one of the first electroacoustic music pieces by Patrick Ascione, of a musical composition by René-Louis Baron and a poem by Paul Eluard (Victory of Guernica). There is also a short film from 1950 by Alain Resnais entitled GuernicaThe team contacted the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports in SpainGernika-Lumo Town Council and Department for Education, Language Policy and Culture of the Basque Government for cooperation to obtain permission to use materials /ruins from the town of Guernica.

GRAVEYARD OF LENIN MONUMENTS AND STALIN STATUES

The project team is now preparing to collect Lenin and Stalin Statues from the Baltic countries for the artists to create art pieces and functional objects. It will be auctioned for the good purpose of humanitarian. Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, better known as Lenin (22 April 1870 – 21 January 1924) was a Russian lawyer, revolutionary, and the leader of the Bolshevik party and of the October Revolution. He was the first leader of the USSR and the government that took over Russia in 1917. Lenin’s ideas became known as Leninism. Lenin grew critical of Stalin, and many other Bolsheviks at this time, but in 1922 a stroke forced Lenin into semi-retirement. Lenin recommended Stalin’s dismissal. However, after Lenin’s death in 1924, Stalin suppressed documentation of Lenin’s recommendation. Joseph Stalin was the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union’s Central Committee from 1923 until his death in 1953. In the years following Lenin’s death in 1924, he rose to become the leader of the Soviet Union. The exact number of deaths caused by Stalin’s regime is still a subject of debate, but it is widely agreed to be in the order of millions.

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THE PORT OF NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY

The Port of New York and New Jersey is the port district of the New York-Newark metropolitan area, encompassing the region within approximately a 25-mile (40 km) radius of the Statue of Liberty National Monument. It includes the system of navigable waterways in the estuary along 650 miles (1,050 km) of shoreline in the vicinity of New York City and northeastern New Jersey, as well as the region’s airports and supporting rail and roadway distribution networks. Considered one the largest natural harbors in the world, the port is by tonnage the third largest in the United States and the busiest on the East Coast. When ranked by the value of shipments passing through it, the port is the number two freight gateway in the United States.

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THE TERRORIST ATTACK in NORWAY The Equator Memorial Project in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture in Norway and Norwegian Directorate of Public Construction and Property received permission to use materials from the Norwegian government’s headquarters in Central Oslo after it was damaged in 2011 from the terrorist attack by Anders Behring Breivik. The 2011 Norway attacks were two sequential Lone Wolf terrorist attacks against the Norwegian government, the civilian population, and a Workers’ Youth League (AUF) -run summer camp in the Oslo region on 22 July 2011, claiming a total of 77 lives.The first was a car bomb explosion in Oslo within Regjeringskvartalet, the executive government quarter of Norway. The bomb was made from a mixture of fertiliser and fuel oil and placed in the back of a car. The car was placed in front of the office block housing the office of Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg and other government buildings. The explosion killed eight people and injured at least 209 people, twelve of them seriously. It was decided to donate the project material for recycling it to art pieces and functional objects to point out for the uselessness and cruelty of terrorism. The group will create series of artworks with Norwegian artists by recycling the ruins.

 

 

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