We are excited to announce the launch of our latest campaign called Peace Sofas. After four months of collaboration, including one month working together in person in Bratislava Slovakia and three weeks of production in Vienna Austria, we are excited to launch this campaign to push back against polarization in Europe.
From June 21st, Partners for Democratic Change Slovakia (PDCS) together with the MuseumsQuartier in Vienna, is opening a bold new art installation to challenge our polarized society to start talking again. But they’re doing it in an unexpected way—by cutting sofas in half.
Called “Peace Sofas”, PDCS paired sets of two people with opposing views on topics—like refugees, religion, and feminism—and cut the pairs’ personal sofas in half. They then merged the sofas together into one and filmed their conversation on it as they met for the first time.
The online film created about “Peace Sofas” ends with a clear message—when we talk with people who have a different viewpoint, we both gain a better viewpoint. The purpose of the campaign is to inspire people to sign the pledge and to engage in a dialogue with people with a different point of view than my own.
“Extremism has increased rapidly over last few years. Social media and fake news have polarized our communities. People don’t listen to each other anymore,” explained Lukáš Zorád, Program Coordinator at PDCS, adding: “These days, we can see, for example, in the tragic deadly attack on a Filipino immigrant, Henry John Serafica Acorda. This kind of hate and mistrust is what we are trying to change.”
“The sofa is a great place to create a dialogue between people with contradictory opinions. It’s a perfect symbol. Sitting on a sofa makes us feel like we’re sitting in the safety of our homes, rather than on a debate stage,” says Dr. Christian Strasser, MBA, director of MuseumsQuartier Wien.
The exhibition will be open to the public at different locations around MuseumsQuartier Wien. Visitors have a chance to sit down and listen to the conversations that happened on the sofas from June 21 to June 27. The sofas will also be for sale afterward. All of the proceeds go to support the continuation of ENND as a network striving to decrease polarization throughout central and eastern Europe with trainings, conferences, and exchange of good practices.
The exhibition is a part of the European Network for Non-violence and Dialogue (ENND) program.