Since the events of October 7th, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has escalated once again. The resurgence of this struggle has divided many nations, and people – it’s polarization manifesting in new extremes, as well as a new axis of divide that is now also generational.
The biggest support of Israel in the western world outside of the Jewish population has historically been based on geopolitics, feigning empathy and at times even in mild denial of former atrocities. In less than magnanimous fashion, the deciding forces have somehow procured a land for a exiled people, by driving out another.
Today, in the current climate motivated more strongly by a distrust of the Arab or Muslim/Islamic world and the logic of supporting the enemy of the enemy, diplomacy is conducted as real estate dealings and support shown in sending arms. Vain ceremony has replaced labor and cultivation to declare occupancy. And with a highly indiscriminate invocation of the principles of International Law on Self-Defense, the justification runs thin as the civilian population has become the shield for one, and target for the other.
Colonial nations fund the wars of other colonial nations helping them keep things on the others’ soil with minor variations as pretext for a long and round-about way towards peace, if peace were indeed the real objective. So much suffering, even to sit at the table. The end of this conflict does not seem imminent with failed negotiations erupting in continued attacks.
After a brief cease fire where dealings of prisoner/hostage exchanges were conducted with the caveat which precludes visible joy or celebration, the morning after saw the doubling down of targets including areas of southern Gaza, the place to where everyone in the north were told to evacuate just prior. The world watches on.
Meanwhile the U.S., reentering the United Nations Human Rights Council only last year after having withdrawn from all of UNESCO during the prior administration, vetos the U.N. resolution for ceasefire in Gaza currently at the table and otherwise supported by the remaining members, apart from the abstention of the United Kingdom. On campuses of higher learning faced with these divisions, from the entering class to its tenured members along with the institutions’ presidents, all fumbling for position, a dance emerges, choreographed in a series of faux pas. Even AI has been incited to choose a side, when really the query simply returns what it has been fed. A spectacle worthy of the internet. And elsewhere, in parking lots all the way up to the floor of the Senate, self-proclaimed gatekeepers to morality demand unequivocal denouncements of one side or the other, the very demand birthed of the greatest conceit, unwitting that this posturing, when given power, is the very cause of the conflict they claim to oppose. Dunning and Kruger meet Motte and Bailey. The world watches on.
Today is the 75th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of 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; 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 75 years ago today on December 10, 1948.
And yet, much like the grand Armistice signed over 100 years ago after the First World War which could not prevent the some 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. The humanitarian crisis continues.
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 despite its members in denial, or the complete hypocrisy of oil giants positioned to lead talks on climate reform.
So it goes. Russia and Ukraine seem all but forgotten, but still not over. China continues its best practice of silencing subversion and bullying its neighbors. Rank and file countries fall in line, or don’t. Isolated and maverick countries practice their bark. Tensions across the world bring us to the precipice, closest now to a war of a global scale since the end of the last one. But governments and corporations still prioritize public relations ahead of oversight as accountability in appearance is king and the moral compass no longer really points anywhere. We see the victims of conflicts, and survivors portrayed with backgrounds ravaged by war – the evolved practices of which surpass even the most liberal reading of the rules of engagement. This current conflict in the briefest of time has also taken the greatest number of lives of journalists. Tiresome, and yet, this is who we are. The world entire watches on.
Today is the 75th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Today we revisit some features and artists who have created in Resistance, Rebellion, and in the Struggle for Human Rights.
William Keo / Magnum Photos
Magnum Photographers are on the ground in Ukraine documenting the Russian invasion and its impact on life in the country. Here, we are gathering the coverage as it is published alongside stories that report on the international response to the conflict.
Mohamed Hassan, The Screen © Mohamed Hassan
The third edition of Porto’s photography bienniale, entitled Acts of Empathy, focuses on assessing today’s social, ecological, and economic resources, and re-imagining a regenerative future. Bienal’23 co-artistic directors Jayne Dyer and Virgílio Ferreira invited 70 artists and 14 guest curators in 14 locations in Porto, transforming them into dynamic creative spaces where visitors are invited to participate in artistic Acts of Empathy.
International Women’s Day: Founded over a hundred years ago evolving through various names and dates, this fulcrum of women’s rights was adopted by the United Nations only in 1975 and is still largely overlooked in many countries. And still, today, in board rooms and senate chambers, in court houses as in locker rooms, it feels we are living in highly primitive times.
Dorothea Lange was sent out to document the people, the economic situation, the plight of the migrant workers or the daily lives of the detainees in the relocation camps; the resulting photographs from this compassionate gaze into the human condition remind us of who we are and where we come from. Recently closed at Camera Torino, currently on view through February 4, 2024 at Civic Museums of Bassano del Grappa: Dorothea Lange. The Other America.
Through it all, the coronavirus pandemic touched every aspect of life in every corner of the globe, from how we celebrate to how we grieve. Well over a million people have died. Millions have lost their jobs and struggle to feed their families. These are the moments that will be etched into history, seen through the lenses of National Geographic photographers. By Gail Fletcher / National Geographic.
Reported by every relevant and reliable organization, the dramatic spike in incidences, at times twofold in the confined conditions of a worldly pandemic, has made the awareness of what is now called the Shadow Pandemic that much more crucial. This virus, which has existed for a far greater period of time and whose rate of contagion is perhaps the highest known – with the spreader population in denial even more staggering – has not yet a cure. Long after the vaccine for Covid is distributed around the world and we are more or less safe in one another’s air space, this Shadow Pandemic will continue behind closed quarters.
Demonstrations across the United States and beyond have been ignited against racism and police brutality following the murder of George Floyd by four police officers. Giving new purpose to the Black Lives Matter movement and reopening the discussion of race relations in America yet once again, the predominantly peaceful protests in certain instances have erupted in violence and have been met with less than magnanimous authority.
Artist, poet, performer, essayist, activist: Jimmie Durham (1940–2021) is a unique figure in the international art history of the last half century. His work addresses the foundations of European and North American culture, deconstructing received ideas and accepted categories. This retrospective at Museo Madre featured over 150 works, some never previously exhibited.
The portrait, a key theme in the work of photography’s pioneers, is more popular than ever in the digital era. When we capture others’ faces and our own and post and share the results across our social networks, these pictures speak to an essential human characteristic – the curiosity with which we observe one another. They illustrate our own histories on several levels. At Museum Der Moderne Salzburg.
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.
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. Presented at the 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.
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. At Brooklyn Museum co-organized with Tate Modern.
Evgeniy Maloletka, Mariupol Maternity Hospital Airstrike / 2023 Photo Contest, World Press Photo of the Year
Representing major news events and important moments overlooked by the mainstream media in 2022, the 2023 World Press Photo Contest winning works call attention to some of the most pressing issues facing the world today – from the devastating documentation of the war in Ukraine and historic protests in Iran, to the realities in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, and the many faces of the climate crisis in countries ranging from Morocco to Australia to Peru to Kazakhstan.
Invisible Man / The Gordon Parks Foundation
In honor of Black History Month, 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
British artist and filmmaker, John Akomfrah created one of his most ambitious pieces: An immersive six-channel video installation addressing climate change, human communities and the wilderness, which has been presented at Barbican Centre, ICA Boston, and Bildmuseet.
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.
Genesis 2.0 / Christian Frei, Maxim Arbugaev. Switzerland, 2018
Fogo Island Film: Resistance and Resilienceis devoted to international films that consider the diversity of relationships between nature and society. For its second year, Fogo Island Film featured 10 screenings and special events at the Fogo Island Inn Cinema. The program culminated in two Festival Weekends on Fogo Island and in St. John’s featuring highlights from the series and invited guests in conversation around the themes of the program.
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 the more recent demonstrations that have been unfolding in France the years following.
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, Frank Buffalo Hyde, Postcommodity, Nicholas Galanin, and others.
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.
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.
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 who recently served nearly three years in prison in Turkey for her artistic activities; 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, taken by state authorities in Xinjiang in 2018 and released in 2019; Tanya Habjouqa, Martin Parr, and Rena Effendi participating in We Feed the World exhibition; Newsha Tavakolian, Magnum photographer, juror 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