Written by: Catherine Wolinski
For the past 64 years of its life, the major athletic company PUMA has shown its prowess in a variety of ways. Established independently in 1948, after an initial fusion with what would become Adidas (the two companies were originally Gebruder Dassler Schuhfabrik, formed in 1924 by two eventually estranged brothers), the German multinational company has reached its paws into different areas of fashion design—namely, it’s sneakers, sportswear, and line of watches. More recently, PUMA has made its presence in another venue, the art world. Somewhat surprising for a brand whose roots cross with membership in the Nazi party, PUMA presented the “Peace Starts With Me” program last year to be included in the World Peace Festival in August of 2011.
Peace Starts With Me was created as a part of the PUMA.Peace commission with the intention of becoming an annual promotion of a more peaceful world, stressing corporate partnerships as vehicles to making a difference. In last year’s program, PUMA accumulated the works of a range of international filmmakers in an effort to showcase content based upon on a theme of peace. Seven artists were chosen from around the world to have their work presented at World Peace Festival 2011, under the condition that they allow open downloading and online as well as live screening without any cost, in order to embody the ideology of equality and shared possession.
“The goal of our PUMA peace initiative is to create programs that foster a more peaceful world than the one we live in today,” says Jochen Zeitz, CEO of the Sport & Lifestyle Group. “Each of us can make a difference in this world as individuals, as corporations and through strategic partnerships.”
Much like PUMA products themselves, the seven short films (usually between one to 2 minutes) encompassed a diverse range of style, experimentation, and color. One film, for example, by Tom Gran and Kayleigh Gibbons, shows the intertwining of multicolored string supporting a series of knives, scissors, and other weapons. We follow the “society of living threads,” as the artists describe it, until they eventually, gently, release the bladed objects as the film concludes. Just shy of two minutes long, the animation reiterates the idea that “peace is about letting go,” and that we as colorful threads must release the urge to carry and uphold the web of violence that exists in our world today.
Zeitz continued, saying, “At PUMA, we feel that we are uniquely positioned to contribute to making the world a better place for generations to come.”
PUMA’s project certainly succeeded in showcasing fine art as a catalyst of communication; we can only hope that the presence of its products across the globe will make a similar impression.