Robin Hammond / W. Eugene Smith Grant 2013
Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world; Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people; Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law; Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations; Now, therefore, The General Assembly, proclaims this Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations…
Thus opens the Universal Declaration of Human Rights put forth by the United Nations 70 years ago today on December 10, 1948.
And yet, much like the Armistice signed 100 years ago after the First World War which could not prevent the nearly 300 wars which have taken place since, Human Rights in modern history has not seen a particular decline of violations, since by the simple declaration of its tenants we have not abolished the practices which offend them.
There is today a real humanitarian crisis.
Slavery, in modern terms, despite its universal outlawing, claims a greater part of the human population today than ever in history; the migrant crisis is the gravest we have seen to date – which seems not only a natural consequence of the former, but also a self-perpetuating cycle back into that slavery. All of this, with the backdrop of a global environmental crisis, which, today, as we have seen in stronger and swifter succession, is now a very major human crisis.
Much like the Armistice signed 100 years ago which could not prevent the nearly 300 wars which have taken place since, Human Rights in modern history has not seen a particular decline of violations.
Meanwhile the world leaders seem to be unaffected, reverting more and more to their inner monarch as the people end by giving what may or may not be due. Just this year, the United States pronounced its official withdrawal from United Nations Human Rights Council, UNESCO, as well as the Paris Climate Agreement. Rather, they have been busy profiling minorities, banning travel, interfering with the constitutional right of immigrants seeking asylum, rewarding predatory behavior against the weak or disenfranchised, dismantling what little safe guards have been in place in health care and education, making it difficult to access anything other than opioids and firearms, making indentured servants out of not only the sick, but the young; Europeans are increasing forgetting the Holocaust, though it was staged in nearly every capital square of nearly every country in Europe while Netanyahu supposedly speaking for the Jewish people negotiates with Neo-Nazis to rewrite history – the irony of form over matter and the inherent contradictions of misanthropy in the enemy of my enemy of my enemy, ad infinitum, until they pass their own Nation-State law setting the groundwork for a new kind of apartheid; Time magazine was fine naming the fallen or imprisoned journalists Persons of the Year were it not for the tone-deaf appendix that Trump was runner up for the prize – in his own words, the enemy. Perhaps Saudi’s crown prince who was found complicit in the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi could have made the nomination with the smiling photo ops welcome by leaders during the last G20 Summit; China with its less than stellar record continues its best practice of silencing subversion with over 40 journalists reported imprisoned last year, second only to Turkey; Egypt recently formed, or reinstated what used to be, their National Council for Human Rights, undoubtedly a contraction for the National Council for Defending the Government Against Criticism of Human Rights Abuse, or in lay terms, a new PR agency.
From our November 25th Prescription .072 which spoke of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, we have counted down to Human Rights Day. Today we revisit some features and artists who have created in Resistance, Rebellion, and in the Struggle for Human Rights.
Nikos Economopoulos, In The Balkans Political meeting. Yozgat, Turkey. 1990. © Nikos Economopoulos, Magnum Photos
Human rights. Two short words with a long history… Acclaimed French journalist Éric Fottorino delves into the history of human rights for Magnum and the European Parliament to commemorate 30 Years of the Sakharov Prize. This exhibition took place earlier this year featuring the works of Newsha Tavakolian, Alex Webb, Christopher Anderson, and others.
The series by 1854 Media / British Journal of Photography & Magnum Photos aims to create one of the most far-reaching collaborative projects with 200 longlisted images featured in a book and 50 shortlisted images exhibited to a global audience throughout 2019. Juried by Alessandra Sanguinetti, Jacob Aue Sobol, and Newsha Tavakolian. Entries close tomorrow, December 11, 2018.
On August 20, 1968, Czech photographer Josef Koudelka took to the streets to document the chaos unfolding on his doorstop: some 250,000 soldiers from five Warsaw Pact countries sent to destroy the Prague Spring. On view through January 6, 2018 at National Prague Gallery.
This is about people, not production lines; farms not factories. This is about a farming system that regenerates the Earth and does not cost the planet, and the photographers who capture it, including Tanya Habjouqa, Martin Parr, and Rena Effendi among nearly 50 others. Launched this fall and traveling through various venues.
Soul of a Nation shines light on a broad spectrum of Black artistic practice from 1963 to 1983, one of the most politically, socially, and aesthetically revolutionary periods in American history. Co-organized with Tate Modern, on view through February 3, 2019 at Brooklyn Museum.
Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda
As Ryuichi Sakamoto returns to music following cancer diagnosis, his haunting awareness of life crisis leads to a resounding new masterpiece. This film is an intimate portrait of both the artist and the man in the wake of political and personal turmoil. Directed by Stephen Nomura Schible and featured at TIFF / Toronto International Film Festival.
On the occasion of the centennial of the birth of Nelson Mandela we honor his life and work through a survey of images covering the struggles of race, oppression and resistance of the Apartheid era. Featuring the works of Raymond Depardon, David Goldblatt, and others.
Paul Hansen / Winner 2013
The Caen Memorial in France hosted an exhibition to mark the occasion of its 30th anniversary: World Press Photo Foundation Photo of the Year winners from the last 30 years together in one exhibition.
Invisible Man / The Gordon Parks Foundation
In honor of Black History Month earlier this year, this feature presented Gordon Parks and Ralph Ellison’s collaboration and shared vision of black life in America, with Harlem as its nerve center. Co-published with The Gordon Parks Foundation and The Art Institute of Chicago.
John Akomfrah / still from Purple
Earlier this year, British artist and filmmaker, John Akomfrah created his most ambitious piece to date: An immersive six-channel video installation addressing climate change, human communities and the wilderness, at Barbican Centre.
A Very Long Line is a four-channel video installation by the artist collective Postcommodity that employs the image and idea of the fence demarcating the U.S.-Mexico border between Douglas, Arizona and Agua Prieta, Sonora. Exhibition last year at Esker Foundation and featured at the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Biennial.
Martin Luther King Jr. with Daughter / Photo James Karales
In celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. half a century after the Civil Rights Movement, the selective memory of a nation still needs jogging in order for the dream to come true. This feature honored Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement. Photography by Bruce Davidson, Yoichi Okamoto, Gordon Parks, James Karales, Marion S. Trikosko, and Bob Adelman.
Shortly after our launch in July 2017, in celebration of Bastille Day, we presented these images of demonstrations in Paris by Stéphane Lagoutte, reflecting on what it means to be French, well over a century since the storming of the Bastille. Many parallels can be drawn to the current demonstrations that have been unfolding in France these past weeks.
Aperture Foundation presented the astounding photography of Claude Iverné’s anthropological and poetic coverage of Sudan. Claude Iverné first set off along the Darb al Arba’ïn (Forty Days Trail) in 1999, the ancient caravan route linking Egypt and the sultanate of Darfur. It was there he discovered Sudan, a country steeped in contrasting influences.
For Thanksgiving we reflected on a nation’s founding conditioned on colonialism, proclamation premised on the blood of the natives and sustained with slavery, driven by excess. The irony was something to bear. Featuring works of Fritz Scholder, Merritt Johnson, Postcommodity, Nicholas Galanin, and others.
Ai Weiwei / Human Flow (still)
Captured over a stretch of 23 countries, this documentary film by Ai Weiwei follows a chain of urgent human stories across the globe as a witness to its subjects and their search for safety, shelter and justice. Featured in several festivals 2017–2018.
This feature reflected on the politics of the new administration in the U.S. as prominent members of the Committee on the Arts and the Humanities submitted an open letter of resignation to protest Trumps’s response to the now famous Charlottesville clash.
Sebastião Salgado, photographer, humanitarian, currently exhibiting Declaration at Musée de l’homme; Ai Weiwei, artist, recently directed the feature documentary Human Flow, previously beaten and arrested, and more recently his studio seized; Zehra Doğan, artist/painter currently sentenced to prison in Turkey for a painting she created; Ryuichi Sakamoto award winning musician/composer, subject of Coda, anti-nuclear activist; Camille Lepage, French photojournalist who was killed during the conflict in the Central African Republic in 2014; Lu Guang, a three time winner of World Press Photo award, reported missing since early November after being escorted by authorities in Xinjiang; Tanya Habjouqa, Martin Parr, and Rena Effendi participating in We Feed the World exhibition; Newsha Tavakolian, Magnum photographer, jurer in Portrait of Humanity Award, and along with Alex Webb, and Christopher Anderson presented in They Defend Our Freedoms; Peter van Agtmael, covering war abroad and back at home, The American Document / Part II, winner W. Eugene Smith Photography Grant in Humanistic Photography. These are the artists who have created in Resistance, Rebellion, and in the Struggle for Human Rights.
Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world… Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.
–Universal Declaration of Human Rights