We don’t know how you feel about birds, but for us they have become a centrifugal force. We opened windows in our dreams to thrust our bodies forward into perfect flight, watching everything become miniscule except the sky’s endless expanse. In our waking lives, we watch birds paint trajectories in the sky, flock together in arbitrary forms, chirp their innate songs invisibly without invading nature’s living silence. Birds, for us, have become a reminder of the kind of freedom we’re beginning (only now) to accept as a right rather than a blessing.
Julian Vogel knows all this, and the fact that his last name means “bird,” in German is the sweetest kind of coincidence possible. When we came upon his mural of a dove taking flight on a Çukurcuma wall inside a perfect halo of red spray paint, our bird obsession was overwhelmed. We contacted him and discovered that he is a street artist who uses the dove to bring a reminder of peace and freedom to people who need it most of all. Vogel says that the Istanbul dove is “a peace dove who just started to fly towards the sun leaving dark clouds behind. For [him] it’s a reflection or metaphor of the present situation.”
It all began in 2007 when Vogel traveled to Iraq and was overcome with an idea to leave something behind. This spontaneous urge took the form of a mural on the walls of an old Hussein Palace in the North of Iraq, or the artist’s first “World Peace Wall.” Since then, nine more walls have come to fruition in Varanasi, India; Kingston, Jamaica; New York, USA (Five Pointz); Paris, France; Gulu, Uganda; Lima, Peru; Taghazout, Morocco; Cluj-Napoca, Romania.
The artist uses the local language for his murals as well as cultural symbols and elements to connect fully with the observer. Vogel says that, “if somebody thinks about peace, he will act more peacefully. I try to change perspectives, thoughts and attitudes with a silent revolution, through a painted message. Everything happening around us, originates in our minds. What we think is our reality. Our thoughts become words, our words become actions, actions become habits and habits form our outlook and personality.
Since ancient times people have been influenced by this principle. Church paintings, propaganda and advertising campaigns all require attention and channel thoughts into one direction. Peace can only be achieved by our attitude. The more human beings are at peace with themselves, the more they surrender fighting against themselves and the flow of life, the more they create a world of tolerance and love around them. The "World Peace Walls" in prominent places of the world give an impulse to start a dialogue about peace – a message that, similarly to a spiritual mantra, is repeated over and over again and therefore slowly manifests itself in reality.“