artists & participants
Art and human rights
The relationship between art and human rights has a long history. One need only think of Francisco Goya's portfolio of etchings "Disasters of War", his painting "The Third of May", Eugène Delacroix's "Liberty Leading the People", Edouard Manet's "The Execution of Maximilian", Picasso's "Guernica" and many other examples. Art always largely depends on an atmosphere of openness and tolerance in order to thrive. The context of human rights affects it, because art is about freedom: freedom of speech, freedom of thought and the unrestrained expression of the spiritual and intellectual; it is inextricably bound up with human dignity in general. In our society cultural, social, as well as political freedom are based on and rooted in human rights. Throughout modern history, human rights have created the foundations for change, wherein self-expression is a prerequisite for self-empowerment. In that sense, human rights also lie at the core of any unconstrained artistic practice.
Newtopia is a major international comprehensive visual arts exhibition dedicated to human rights. In recent years many important contemporary artists interested in social and political issues have created significant work exploring the various aspects of human rights. Many of them – some from countries where human rights are a highly contentious issue – will be included in the exhibition. Human rights are a perpetual, unfinished, ongoing project. They can be seen as the ultimate utopian project for humanity - of universal significance and value - which can never be fully attained, but whose impact and benefits are always going to be worth fighting for if we are to strive for improved living conditions and dignity for those who lack them.
The aim of the exhibition
Newtopia: The State of Human Rights, will explore the numerous, complex and multi-faceted issues pertaining to human rights and its evolving discourse. The exhibition is timed to coincide with the opening of the new Kazerne Dossin Memorial, Museum and Documentation Centre for the Holocaust and Human Rights, in Mechelen, which is one of the venues of the exhibition.
The exhibition will be divided into several distinct thematic chapters that trace the development of human rights and their rise since the post-war era. It will negotiate the different and complex facets of human rights: from civil and political rights, social, economic and cultural rights, to the right to sustainable development, to peace and to a healthy environment, while emphasizing the indivisible, interrelated and interdependent nature of these rights. Newtopia will also track the evolving nature of human rights discourse, as well as its problematics, such as the conflict between universalism and cultural relativism, one of the key debates surrounding human rights. It will contain work by over 65 artists of different generations working in diverse media and will examine a rich variety of artistic responses in relation to the basic tenets of human rights. Many of these artists come from countries and geographies where human rights has been or is a particularly pressing issue such as the Arab World, China, India, Latin America, South Africa, Russia and certain former Soviet countries such as Belarus or the Ukraine. However, the exhibition will also explore the situation in the Western world in the post-1989, post-9/11 era, a time during which human rights seem to be increasingly disregarded, and hard earned civil liberties and social rights are currently under serious threat.
The exhibition will trace the artistic responses to the development of human rights in the last 100 years or so, and especially since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, paying particular attention to the significant rise of human rights since the 1970s and their current state. It will be divided into four chapters. The first chapter will explore so-called 'first-generation' human rights, which revolve around issues of freedom and participation in political life. Civil and political at root, these aim to protect the individual from excesses of the state and to ensure participation in democratic processes. The work in this chapter will address issues such as freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, the right to a fair trial, and the right to vote. The second chapter will focus on so-called 'second-generation' human rights, which are social, economic, and cultural in nature and tied to the establishment of the welfare state, now increasingly under threat. They call for equal conditions and treatment of citizens. This chapter will include contributions by artists whose practice has focused on issues of work, housing and health care, as well as social security and employment. The third chapter will focus on the current state of human rights, and on rights which are a response to post-war economic and geo-political developments such as de-colonisation, globalization, multi-culturalism and the consolidation of global capitalism. These rights go beyond the civil and social, covering a wide spectrum related to contemporary socio-political issues: minority rights, the rights of immigrants, asylum seekers and sans papiers; gay, lesbian and trans-gender rights, and the right to self-determination; the right to economic development; the right to a healthy environment and rights to land, air, water, natural resources and sustainability; the right to 'difference' and cultural rights.
Newtopia will contain work by over 65 artists of different generations working in diverse media and will examine a rich variety of artistic responses in relation to the basic tenets of human rights. Many of these artists come from countries and geographies where human rights has been or is a particularly pressing issue such as the Arab World, China, India, Latin America, South Africa, Russia and certain former Soviet countries such as Belarus or the Ukraine. However, the exhibition will also explore the situation in the Western world in the post-1989, post-9/11 era, a time during which human rights seem to be increasingly disregarded, and hard earned civil liberties and social rights are currently under serious threat.
Newtopia is configured in the form of a parcours that will entail a rich combination of historical and cutting-edge art, all easily accessible on foot in the city centre. It will take place in some of Mechelen's prominent cultural institutions, which include, among others: Mechelen Cultural Centre; Lamot Conference and Heritage Centre; the Academy of Fine Arts; Museum Hof Van Busleyden; and the new Kazerne Dossin Museum, Memorial and Documentation Centre on Holocaust and Human Rights (with whose opening Newtopia coincides), as well as public space. Newtopia will also feature a satellite exhibition in Brussels, at ING Cultural Centre in the heart of the city.
Cultural Centre Mechelen LAMOT Heritage Centre Hof van Busleyden Municipal Museum Kazerne Dossin Memorial, Museum and Documentation Centre on the Holocaust and Human Rights Academy of Fine Arts Public spaces in the city
Mechelen as context
Newtopia: The State of Human Rights will take place in various cultural institutions in the historic city of Mechelen – a city whose roots in humanist tradition make it an appropriate context. The highly lucrative cloth trade gained Mechelen wealth and power during the late Middle Ages and it even became the capital of the Low Countries (very roughly, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg) in the first half of the 16th century (1506 - 1530) under Archduchess Margaret of Austria, a period of economic and cultural prosperity which left the city with a large number of sites and monuments now on the UNESCO world heritage list. During this time, the court of Margaret of Austria was also frequented by notable humanists such as Erasmus and Thomas More, who also consulted her famous library. Prior to that, in the 15th century, the city came under the rule of the Dukes of Burgundy, marking the beginning of this prosperous period. During the 16th century the city's political influence began to decrease, due to many governmental institutions being moved to Brussels. The city compensated for this loss of secular influence by increased attention in the religious arena: in 1559 it was proclaimed the Archdiocese of Mechelen for Belgium, not sharing this title with Brussels until 1961. It still remains the religious capital of Belgium. The city entered the industrial age in the 19th century. In 1835 the first railway on the European continent linked Brussels with Mechelen, which became the hub of the Belgian railway network. This led to the development of metalworking industries, including the central railway workshops, which are still located in the town today. During World War II, the extensive Mechelen railway infrastructure led the Nazi occupation forces to choose Mechelen for the infamous transit camp – the Dossin Barracks – from which 26,053 Jews, Roma and Sinti were deported to the Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps. In 2012 Mechelen will open the Dossin Barracks Memorial, Museum and Documentation Centre on the Holocaust and Human Rights. Newtopia is timed to coincide with this important event and will be the inaugural show in this museum.
artists: An-My Lê (Vietnam, 1960), Ravi Agarwal (India, 1958), Amsab (Est. 1980, Belgium), Kader Attia (France, 1970), Sami Baloji (1978, Dr Congo), Yael Bartana (Israel, 1970), Taysir Batniji (1966, Palestine), Elisabetta Benassi (Italy, 1966), Edward Burtynsky (Canada, 1955), Fernando Sanchez Castillo (Spain, 1970), Cengiz Çekil (Turkey, 1945), Alejandro Cescarco (1975, Uruguay), Olga Chernysheva (Russia, 1962), Johan Creten (Belgium, 1963), Ninar Esber (Lebanon, 1971), Stelios Faitakis (Greece, 1976), Ali Ferzat (Syria, 1951), Ziyah Gafic (Croatia, 1980), Ganzeer (Egypt, 1982), Eduardo Gil (Argentina, 1948) - El Siluetazo (Argentina, 1983), Kendell Geers (South Africa, 1968) With Special Guests:, Marina Abramovic (Serbia, 1946), Belinda Blignaut (South Africa), Ganzeer (Egypt, 1982), Ilse Ghekiere (Belgium, 1985), Ilya And Emilia Kabakov (1933 And 1945, Former Ussr), Barbara Kruger (Usa, 1945), Nedko Solakov (Bulgaria, 1957), Betty Tompkins (Usa, 1945) 1945, Kara Walker (Usa, 1969), Sandra Vaszquez De La Horra (Chile, 1967), Zapiro [Jonathan Zapiro] (South Africa, 1958) And Others, Esther Shalev Gerz (Lithuania/Israel 1948), Leon Golub (Usa, 1922 – 2004), David Goldblatt (South Africa, 1930), Hans Haacke (Germany, 1936), Mona Hatoum (Lebanon, 1952), Nicoline Van Harskamp (Netherlands, 1975), Barbara Hammer (Usa, 1939), Jan Peter Hammer (Germany, 1971), Diango Hernandez (Cuba, 1970), Lynn Hershman Leeson (1941, Usa), Wafa Hourani (Palestine, 1979), Satch Hoyt (Uk, 1957), Alfredo Jaar (Chile, 1956), Khaled Jarrar (Palestine, 1976), Sven 'T Jolle (Belgium, 1966), International Institute Of Social History (Est. 1935), Nikita Kadan (Ukraine, 1981), Hayv Kahraman (Iraq, 1981), Amar Kanwar (India, 1964), Lina Khatib (Lebanon, 1970S), Thomas Kilpper (Germany, 1956), Jarek Kozakiewicz (Poland, 1961), Nevan Lahart (Ireland, 1973), Thomas Locher (Germany, 1956), Basim Magdy (Egypt, 1977), Tom Molloy (Ireland, 1964), Gianni Motti (Italy, 1958), Boniface Mwangi (Kenya, 1985), Madein (China, 1977), Marina Naprushkina (Belarus, 1981), Jennifer Nelson/Dimitris Kotsaras (Usa/Greece), Seamus Nolan (Ireland, 1978), Pablo Picasso (Spain, 1881-1973), Pia Rönicke (Denmark, 1974), Bruno Serralongue (France, 1968), Taryn Simon (Usa, 1976), Travis Somerville (Usa, 1963), Simon Starling (Uk, 1967), Sun Xun (China, 1981), Jan Švankmajer (Czech Republic, 1934), Kostas Tsolis (Greece, 1965), Lieve Van Stappen (Belgium, 1958), Simon Velez (Colombia, 1949), Kostis Velonis (Greece, 1970), Andy Warhol (Usa, 1928-1987), Wilhelm Werner (Germany, 1898-1940), Krzysztof Wodiczko (Poland, 1943), Wilchar (Belgium, 1910-2005), Wooloo (Est. 2002, Denmark).
Newtopia: The state of human rights
An international exhibition of contemporary art dedicated to Human Rights
Künstlerische Direktorin: Katerina Gregos
Künstler: An-My Le, Ravi Agarwal, Amsab , Kader Attia, Sammy Baloji, Yael Bartana, Taysir Batniji, Elisabetta Benassi, Edward Burtynsky, Fernando Sanchez Castillo, Cengiz Cekil, Alejandro Cescarco, Olga Chernysheva, Johan Creten, Ninar Esber, Stelios Faitakis, Ali Ferzat, Ziyah Gafic, Ganzeer , Eduardo Gil, Kendell Geers, Marina Abramovic, Belinda Blignaut, Ganzeer Ilse Ghekiere, Ilya & Emilia Kabakov, Barbara Kruger, Nedko Solakov, Betty Tompkins, Kara Walker; Sandra Vasquez de la Horra, Jonathan Zapiro, Esther Shalev-Gerz, Leon Golub, David Goldblatt, Hans Haacke, Mona Hatoum, Nicoline van Harskamp, Barbara Hammer, Jan Hammer, Diango Hernandez, Lynn Hershman, Wafa Hourani, Satch Hoyt, Alfredo Jaar, Khaled Jarrar, Sven´t Jolle, International Institute of Social History , Nikita Kadan, Hayv Kahraman, Amar Kanwar, Lina Khatib, Thomas Kilpper, Jarek Kozakiewicz, Nevan Lahart, Thomas Locher, Basim Magdy, Tom Molloy, Gianni Motti, Boniface Mwangi, MadeIn , Marina Naprushkina, Jennifer Nelson /Dimitris Kotsaras, Seamus Nolan, Pablo Picasso, Pia Rönicke, Bruno Serralongue, Taryn Simon, Travis Somerville, Simon Starling, Sun Xun, Jan Svankmajer, Kostas Tsolis, Lieve van Stappen, Simon Velez, Kostis Velonis, Andy Warhol, Wilhelm Werner, Krzysztof Wodiczko, Wilchar , Wooloo Productions