Exhibition of contemporary art dedicated to human rights

27 June 2012

‘Newtopia: The State of Human Rights’ is an international visual arts exhibition dedicated to human rights. It contains works by over 70 artists, and opens in Mechelen in Belgium on 31 August 2012, where it runs til 10 December 2012.

The exhibition, curated by Katerina Gregos, builds on the long relationship between art and human rights and aims to explore the numerous aspects associated with the issue.

Newtopia will take place in various cultural institutions and the urban context of the historic Flemish city of Mechelen — a city whose roots go back to the humanistic tradition of Erasmus and Thomas Moore thus providing an apt context for the exhibition.

Text about the exhibition:

    Be it the right to life, liberty, security and education; be it the right to free thought, conscience and opinion; be it it the right not to be tortured, not to be treated inhumanely or in a degrading manner; be it in Syria, China or North Korea, hardly any other subject influences public discourse as firmly and as permanently as human rights. More than sixty years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the question of human rights is constantly gaining in importance.

Many of the over 70 artists 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).

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’s curator Katerina Gregos 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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