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Amnesty International exhibition shows the human in human rights

Kunang Helmi
Kunang Helmi

Freelance writer

Paris  /  Tue, December 11, 2018  /  05:14 pm
Amnesty International exhibition shows the human in human rights

Telegraph. Calcutta, Inde, 2008 (Galerie Les filles du calvaire, à partir d'une photographie d'Alain Willaume / Tendance Floue/Claudia Huidobro)

Amnesty International is celebrating seven decades of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with an innovative photo exhibition, which was inaugurated on Dec. 6. Besides the photo exhibition, visitors can also visit the Musee de l’Homme at Place du Trocadero, but more about that later.

The "Les Uns envers les Autres” (Our Responsibilities to Each Other) exhibition, which is free of charge, is right in the center of Paris at Galerie Wanted, 23 Rue du Roi de Sicile and runs until Jan. 12. It is an important reminder that these basic rights are still vital to uphold because transgressions are constantly occurring all over the globe.

The curators, Fany Dupechez and Pascal Michaut, were assisted by Alexandre Jalbert and Pauline David of Amnesty International Paris who managed to rope in the following artists or photographers: Bruce Gilden, Claudia Huidobro, Ulrich Lebeuf,  Sebastian Liste, Lorenzo Meloni, Zanele Muholi, Yann Rabanier, Anton Renborg, Smith and the photo agency, Tendance Floue.

Seven decades have elapsed since 48 nations were inspired to wipe out the horrors of World War II. At Palais de Chaillot, their representatives signed the declaration to protect human rights with 30 special articles, commencing with the basic right to be born in freedom, in dignity and with equal access to commodities such as food, water and housing. The 1948 declaration defined the ethical foundations designed to guarantee that such a war should never again take place because the dignity of every human being would be respected without any exception.

The contemporary artists and photographers, mentioned above, studied each of the 30 articles contained in the declaration, and were asked to interpret their own innovative versions of how to uphold these basic human rights, or to present images illustrating those who should be protected. The curators appealed to their creative imagination to illustrate transgressions of these universal human rights up until our day.

Mudawi Ibrahim Adam, the founder and former director of the Organization for Social Development in Sudan.Mudawi Ibrahim Adam, the founder and former director of the Organization for Social Development in Sudan. (Magnum Photos/Bruce Gilden)

Magnum photographer Bruce Gilden’s black and white portraits were imposing, considering their large size. One image was printed on a sheet and fluttered in the wind, while his other portraits were aligned one after the other.

Spanish photographer Sebastian Liste paired color prints of indigenous Brazilian tribe members next to the environment that they inhabit and which is threatened by extinction. These impressive print diptychs perfectly illustrated ever-present dangers for indigenous peoples in general.

Others participating in the show took a more artistic approach. As an example, contemporary artist Claudia Huidobro used paper photo prints from the archives of the Tendance Floue agency to pleat and frame in a novel approach.

Read also: Exhibition showcases inmates' hopes and dreams

At the opening, Huidobro admitted, “I really had to wade through literally thousands of images from the archives until I narrowed my choice down to what I thought was essential.”

Thus, visitors are stimulated to comprehend the significance of the image, while also admiring the artistic liberty taken with the work of the photographers who were sent on mission all over the globe. The main objective for Amnesty International remains the fact that human liberty demands constant vigilance and energy to uphold and defend.

Myths of justice in the Amazon ForestMyths of justice in the Amazon Forest (NOOR Images/Sebastian Liste)

Myths of justice in the Amazon ForestMyths of justice in the Amazon Forest (NOOR Images/Sebastian Liste)

A short, but pithy video shown here reminds visitors of what has happened since the original signature. Global events attest to the fact that we should remain vigilant and defend those who are weaker and less able to cope with violations of these basic rights.

Ranging from the fate of refugees and the homeless, the rights of women, the rights of those who do not conform to society’s norms to those who are employed and harassed by their superiors, we only have to open our eyes to take in what is happening around us.

At the Musée de l’Homme, a show is also celebrating the 70th anniversary of the declaration. The exhibition, focusing on human rights across the world, is by famous photographer Sebastião Salgado and runs until June 30. Salgado and his wife curated the show, displaying about 30 huge black and white format prints in the auditorium hall of the museum. The stunning prints, which encapsulate over 40 years of his work, were chosen from many countries beginning with Afghanistan, including Indonesia.

The Brazilian-born photographer is in fact known mainly for his landscapes that incorporate those who work under duress without any rights at all. In the case of Indonesia, indigenous tribes are being driven off their land due to various factors.

The range of offenses against human dignity is indeed vast. Therefore, we should keep our eyes and senses open to all injustices being committed around us. (kes)


Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.