Bringing ‘Peace & Quiet’ to Campus

I am a civilian. 

I am a veteran.

Two stacks of small, white note-cards, each printed with the above words.  On each card, underneath the printed words are handwritten responses:

I am a civilian, and I want to ask…what did you witness?

I am a veteran, and I wish the world worked in a way that no one needed an army.

civilian

These cards were part of a public installation called Peace and Quiet. Conceptualized and designed by Matter Architecture Practice, the original Peace & Quiet was installed in Times Square in 2012 as a temporary dialogue station where veterans and civilians, two groups whose paths increasingly do not cross – could engage in conversation, leave a note, share a story, or just shake hands.  When the Center committed to presenting the Los Angeles premiere of Basetrack, a live performance piece featuring the real-life stories of servicemen and women; I began doing research into art projects that explored the veteran/civilian experience in new ways, and after much searching, I found Peace & Quiet.  Luckily, Sandra and Alfred, Matter’s Co-Directors were willing and eager to revisit the project, so Peace & Quiet will have a new life: re-designed and installed on the UCLA Quad, between the iconic Royce Hall and Powell Library.  The quad, one of UCLA’s great public spaces, provides an ideal circumstance to host a dialogue station, to initiate and inform an exchange of ideas, and to offer a highly visible hub highlighting the many programs UCLA offers the veteran community.

Last month, before a meeting with the team from Matter, I stood at the northern edge of the Brooklyn Naval Yard, where Matter has their studio.  The sky was impossibly clear and blue for an August day in New York, a vibrant backdrop for the Yard’s 200-year-old buildings, which stood their ground next to new construction. Established by President John Adams in 1801, the Yard’s first naval ship was built and launched to suppress the slave trade off the coast of Africa.

navyyard2

 

I am a civilian. 

I am a veteran.

Our country’s relationship to conflict is deep and complicated.  At the tip of the Naval Yard, surrounded by the bridges that connect Brooklyn to Manhattan, I hoped that our version of Peace & Quiet will be its own bridge: connecting stories, revealing history, closing the gap.

For more information on the upcoming Peace & Quiet installation click here.

For more information and tickets to our presentation of Basetrack Live, click here.

Help get the dialogue going by participating in our Peace & Quiet tumblr. We’re starting with the concept of service. Share a thought or a quote or a video or photo that answers the question “How do you serve?”