NEWTOPIA: The State of Human Rights in Mechelen and Brussels, Belgium
1 September–10 December 2012
Opening: 31 August 2012
More than sixty years after the Declaration of Human Rights, the protection of human rights is still an urgent global issue. NEWTOPIA: The State of Human Rights is a major international contemporary art exhibition dedicated to human rights. It will chart the development of the human rights movement and its evolving discourse since the post-war era. NEWTOPIA will explore the numerous, complex, and multi-faceted issues pertaining to human rights. The exhibition will be divided into several thematic chapters that trace the development of human rights and their rise, particularly since the 1970s. 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 be on view in Mechelen, Belgium, from 1 September to 10 December 2012, and will feature a satellite exhibition in Brussels. NEWTOPIA will present more than 70 acclaimed and emerging artists working in diverse media. Many of them come from countries and regions where human rights have been or still are a particularly contested issue such as the Arab World, China, Latin America, and the former Soviet Republics. Half of the artists come from non-Western countries.
Participating artists include: Ravi Agarwal (India), Kader Attia (France/Algeria), Yael Bartana (Israel), Sammy Baloji (DR Congo), Taysir Batniji (Palestine), Ali Ferzat (Syria), Ziyah Gafiç (Bosnia/Herzegovina), David Goldblatt (South Africa), Hans Haacke (Germany/USA), Mona Hatoum (Lebanon/UK), Diango Hernandez (Cuba), Alfredo Jaar (Chile), Hayv Kahraman (Iraq), Nikita Kadan (Ukraine), Thomas Locher (Germany), MadeIn (China), Boniface Mwangi (Kenya), Marina Naprushkina (Belarus), Taryn Simon (USA). For the full list of participating artists, to date, see www.newtopia.be. The complete list will be released on 18 June.
Important art historical positions such as Cengiz Çekil (Turkey), Eduardo Gil – El Siluetazo (Argentina), Lynn Hershman Leesson (USA), and Jan Švankmajer (Czech Republic), among others, will also be included. There will be two new commissions in public space, a large-scale video installation by the internationally renowned Polish artist Krysztof Wodiczko and a mural by the Egyptian artist Ganzeer, who has been the driving force behind the visuals in public space for the Egyptian revolution. Finally, there will also be a curated exhibition within the exhibition itself; South African, Brussels-based artist Kendell Geers decided to open up his solo invitation to NEWTOPIA and invite guests and friends to share their personal visions and interpretations of the complex subject of human rights. His project includes, among others, Marina Abramovic, Barbara Kruger, Ilya & Emilia Kabakov, Nedko Solakov, and Zapiro.
NEWTOPIA is curated by Katerina Gregos, who is currently on the curatorial team of Manifesta 9, and was curator of the exhibition Speech Matters for the Danish Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale (2011).
NEWTOPIA coincides with the opening of the new Kazerne Dossin Memorial, Museum and Documentation Centre for the Holocaust and Human Rights and is configured as a parcours in various cultural institutions in the city-centre of the historic Flemish city of Mechelen—only 20 minutes from Brussels.
NEWTOPIA also features a satellite exhibition at ING Cultural Centre in the heart of Brussels—a solo exhibition of the internationally renowned artist Alfredo Jaar (Chile).
NEWTOPIA is part of the exhibition cluster Visual Arts Flanders 2012, which comprises five international exhibitions in the region of Flanders.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are both partners of the project.
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Greensboro civil rights demonstration, 1960 © Greensboro News & Record.