Bear hugs from Berlin
A circle of 143 bear sculptures representing different countries are in town to promote peace and harmony.
Published: July 4, 2012 (Issue # 1716)
The world-touring United Buddy Bears are celebrating their 25th exhibition and 10th anniversary in St. Petersburg. One hundred and forty-three brightly painted two-meter tall bear figures from all over the world stand hand in hand in the Alexandrovsky Garden, promoting living together in peace and harmony.
The free outdoor exhibit is open in the city 24 hours a day through Aug. 5.
Buddy Bears first hit the streets in 2001. Project initiators Eva and Dr. Klaus Herlitz wanted art to be on display in city streets and decided to start a unique art project in Berlin.
“The positive reaction we got from visitors gave us the idea to use Buddy Bears’ popularity to provide more targeted food for thought to promote mutual understanding between different people. In 2002 this thought developed into the idea of the United Buddy Bears,” said Michael Stefanescu, managing director of Buddy Bear Berlin.
Each fibreglass bear represents a member state of the United Nations. All of the bears are standing together hand in hand, forming a large circle of equals.
Artists from all over the world were invited to realize the project. Each bear was created in a different style to express the unique character of the artists’ native countries, allowing visitors to take a journey around the world while visiting the exhibition.
“Together Buddy Bears represent a complete work of art, spreading an enormous zest for life,” said Stefanescu.
“The bears promote tolerance and mutual understanding between different nations and cultures. None of the bears represent a government or current political system. They represent people and their cultures. The arrangement of the different countries symbolizes the vision of a world that will be peaceful in the future,” he said.
There are also four special bears that present ideas necessary for people to co-exist peacefully. Two golden bears holding hands show that nobody can live on their own and that how people behave toward one another has consequences. The first Golden Rule bear conveys the message that the more friendly a person is to other people, the more friendliness they are likely to receive in return. The words “Try to treat everyone the way you want to be treated” are written on it.
The second Global Ethic bear illustrates that there can be no peace among nations without peace among religions. The bear represents the basic commandments from the “Declaration toward a Global Ethic” and is covered in quotes from different religions that all mean the same thing — “In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you.”
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