Helmets for Peace!

Kivi and Sanna Larmola,, Imbi Paju, Külli Suitso ja Klea Suitso Photo: Imbi Paju

During crises it’s essential that we look each other in the eye. To see and recognize ourselves as the humans we are and not as monsters who have become faceless, emotionless creatures disfigured by fear. We are not just a small part of a marching column.

How could we interpret the world as it is – built out of small humans, each and every one with their dreams, worries and loves?

A helmet is a tool for facelessness. It forces every soldier to become alike, from the steel, bullet like, top to the shadows hiding the soldier’s eyes. The eyes which mirror the soul.

Külli Suitso started painting her “Helmets” series when Russia attacked Crimea. She filled helmets with apples and daisies; each different, each humane. Those paintings created a bond between us, individual artists, and together we created the performance “Helmets – between Peace and War!”

In our video as here and now we ask the following:

Can art stop the machines of war? Can art stop the people from turning into machines?

Now, history is a slippery creature. If we don’t protect it and remind ourselves of what really happened and how, it risks vanishing from sight. It can disappear like grains of sand falling between giant boulders, and we’ll only notice the big and mighty.  We small ones remain hidden among the shadows, unseen, unheard.

Can art stop this destruction? Can it stop  future dictators, who, with their grandiose gestures, wipe out  art and artist alike? Destruction and construction are both strong forces within us, it’s up to us which one we choose, and up to us to support the creative.

Just as the universe alters humans, so do humans change the world. With our hands and with machines we move nature, and our surroundings, both physical and mental, alter our will and work! The world that we create around us reflects our inner changes, and our dreams both past and present!

Helmets Introduction by Toomas Hendrik Ilves

72 years after the end of World War II, much of Europe has forgotten what war is, its horror and its suffering. When European Union leaders repeat with numbing frequency, “The European Union is a project for peace”, listeners in their 20s and 30s, sometimes even in their forties, shrug their shoulders. It is a meaningless sentence for them.

War, the war that destroyed much of Europe and left it divided for half a century and cost tens of millions of lives, is something from history books. A project for peace is taken as a cliché, one of those things people say without thinking.

Yet they do not see that the peace Europe, or more precisely the European Union, has enjoyed these three quarter centuries is the result of constant work, comprise and cooperation to remove the causes of the worst war Europeans have suffered through.

Today, a war is raging within Europe, at the European Union’s doorstep, in Ukraine, and that too is for so many as distant as the world of our grandparents who lived through WWII. Even if war is going on next door to us, we take our peace and our peaceful existence as natural, a given, who could imagine it otherwise?

If we are not capable of imagining it otherwise and take what we have for granted, then we may soon find ourselves back where peace is no longer the natural state of affairs, a given, a birthright.

The helmet, an article of war worn by tens of millions in the second world war, brings back to us the understanding that war is not the face of dictators, of generals and victorious Allied leaders.

War is won or lost, but always fought. By (mostly) men wearing helmets, their protection against the most fragile part of their body, the head. Helmets bring back to us the understanding that ordinary people end up wearing them, living or dying in them. The helmet is a symbol of Everyman in War.
Toomas Hendrik Ilves

Let’s dream of peace, because our dreams will change the world!
Helmets – between Peace and War /Kiivrid – Rahu ja sõja vahel
Külli Suitso, Imbi Paju, Kivi Larmola, Sanna Larmola

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