BUY ONE TANK, GET ONE FREE!

Peacenik taps art world to parody war

by Sayuri Daimon

Tetsuya Ozaki is trying to wage peace in a unique theater of war — the theater of the absurd.

Ozaki, editor in chief of bilingual Web site Realtokyo, a source of information about art, music and various cultural events, is taking artistic aim at the notion of war as a business pursuit.

Under the theme “War as Sales Promotion (WASP),” Ozaki has posted on the Realtokyo site a number of mock advertisements ostensibly promoting war and weapons — pieces he solicited through the site.

One ad depicts a tank, accompanied by the phrase: “The car of your dreams. Now on sale! Buy one and get one free.”

Another shows someone shooting at people. It reads, “If you kill 10,000 people, you can become the secretary of state.”

“War glue” is promoted in yet another ad. The mythical new product, which comes in a tube, is promoted as a special glue for repairing wounds and reattaching amputated body parts. The label on the glue reads, “Heals All Wounds.”

Far from being a war monger, Ozaki hopes to promote peace through the art parodies.

He launched the WASP project in February and asked people via the Web site to send their works in the form of advertisements advocating war and the use of weapons.

Since then, he has received more than 60 entries from around the world, many of them apparently sent in by art students, would-be graphic designers and copywriters, he said.

“Organizing a demonstration and holding up antiwar slogans may be one way to protest, but since our Web site is widely viewed by artists and designers, I wanted to approach those artists and have them send out a different kind of message,” Ozaki said in a recent interview.

Though not many people openly talk about it, the 48-year-old peacenik believes arms sales have increasingly become one of the driving forces for starting a war.

“There are two main purposes of war in today’s world,” he said. “One is to get rid of old weapons. Another is to showcase various state-of-the-art weapons and use them in an actual battle, so once the war is over, they can be sold to other countries.”

On Friday, the best works will be chosen by a group of artists and writers at an event at Super Deluxe in Tokyo’s Nishi-Azabu district.

The committee of judges includes Japanese designer Gento Matsumoto, German artist Ingo Gunther, Japanese novelist Natsuki Ikezawa, and Michel Temman, a correspondent of the French newspaper Liberation and a representative of Reporters Without Borders Japan.

Even after this selection process, Ozaki intends to keep accepting mock war promotional ads on his site.

“I want to continue this project as long as war rages somewhere in the world,” he said. “The Iraq war isn’t really over, and there are still many places suffering from war.”