Monica Mukerjee (Young Professionals in Human Rights) and Douglas Rintoul (Transport) in conversation on human rights issues, activism and arts. Many thanks to both our speakers and to everybody who came to the event and participated in the discussion.
This event looked at the role of the arts and importance of the artist’s voice in the human rights debate. We tried to answer questions such as: can storytelling, the written word and other art gestures be regarded as activism?, and what can they change and contribute to the human rights movement? The framework of the talk was definied by Transport’s current theatre work and Monica’s human rights activist experience.
Starting this talk/conversation on arts and human rights connections and founding ourselves here in Folkestone, there’s no way that we can move on without mentioning briefly the Folkestone Triennial 2011. This art exhibition of work by 19 international artists explores themes of migration, displacement and social and political changes and by doing so embarks on investigation of some basic human rights such as freedom of speech and freedom of movement. The Folkestone Triennial opened on the 25th of June with Common Skies, Divided Horizons conference that gathered renowned sociologist Saskia Sassen, a local Migrant Support Group worker, Pat Storey, some of the Triennial artists and art theorists. The discussion went beyond analysing of the Triennial artworks and explored the current phenomena of loosing rights by both the citizens and the migrants in so called developed countries. Panellists also looked at art and resistance and its role in the recent upheavals in the Arab countries. During our talk today we will stay connected to these issues and will look at arts as a platform for challenging and communicating political ideas and also for expressing concern with violation of human rights. We will also talk about the practical side of working in human rights (industry?!) and how art professionals can contribute to improving situation in communities affected by violation of human rights (…)
Zbigniew Kotkiewicz, curator