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‘Knotted gun’ statue placed in HCC cafeteria after debate

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    The replica of the "Non-Violence" sculpture will be unveiled Dec. 8 at its new home inside Honolulu Community College's cafeteria.

QUESTION: Whatever happened to the "knotted gun" nonviolence statue that was going to be installed at Honolulu Community College?

ANSWER: HCC Chancellor Michael Rota decided to locate a bronze replica of the cocked, .45-caliber revolver — with a twisted barrel rendering it useless — inside the college’s cafeteria, where it can also be seen by people walking along Dillingham Boulevard on the Costco side of the campus.

Swedish artist Carl Fredrik Reuterswaerd titled his piece "Non-Violence" in 1980 after the murder of his friend John Lennon, the former Beatle. It has come to be known as the "Knotted Gun" as replicas have been installed around the world, including at the United Nations Plaza, the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee and at the waterfront in Cape Town, South Africa.

At HCC, plans to install a 40-inch-wide, 27-inch-tall replica of the piece anywhere on campus elevated the debate about the role of provocative art in public places.

The original idea was to place the statue in an area that already holds a 3-ton hunk of the Berlin Wall, a metal statue depicting New York’s Twin Towers and a bench honoring HCC alumna Christine Snyder. Snyder was a passenger on United Airlines Flight 93 when it was hijacked by terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001, and crashed into a Pennsylvania field, killing everyone aboard.

But the grassy area at HCC also is adjacent to the college’s Keiki Hauoli Children’s Center and its outdoor playground.

So Chancellor Rota decided instead to place the statue inside the cafeteria on Oct. 3, where it sits under wraps until a formal unveiling on Dec. 8, the 30th anniversary of Lennon’s murder.

"Clearly this is a piece of art with a message, which has created debate and discussion among individuals who have seen the work at more than 20 different locations around the world," Rota wrote in an e-mail to the HCC community. "I would expect that the work will also generate debate and discussion among the students, faculty and staff when it is installed at HCC. As a vibrant institution of higher education, I believe it is one of our roles to promote opportunities for healthy debate and discussion, but to ensure the dialogue takes place in a collegial environment of respect to one another’s differing viewpoints."

Until it was moved to HCC, the statue had sat for two years in the Capitol offices of state Rep. John Mizuno (D, Kamehameha Heights-Kalihi Valley-Fort Shafter).

"Chancellor Michael Rota showed us where they have the Berlin Wall and the 9/11 piece and he thought it would be a great fit there," Mizuno said. "But it is right by the children’s center."

So the alternate site in HCC’s cafeteria seems like a good compromise, Mizuno said.

"It’s found its home and we’re very happy — not only for the students and faculty, but also for the passers-by who can understand the true significance of it," Mizuno said. "Mike Rota is a chancellor with vision. He said, ‘You shouldn’t be afraid of art.’"

This update was written by Dan Nakaso.
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