Re-Interpreting Human Rights
2017 | Exhibition & Workshop (London, United Kingdom)
What are human rights?
Human rights are not something explicated in the convention but they are “rights that are clearly defined by the mandates of a humanitarian concern” (King, 1976, cited in Burton and Cross, 2014 , p.86). They represent our belief in human value and the attitude towards our practice rather than simply a sentence on a contract. The distinct approaches of enacting human rights in different states result in infringements and conflicts. The contradictory beliefs and actions initiate a proposal to tackle the situation. It starts with a theoretical research on the fundamental idea of human rights and their existence in a society, followed by an exploration on their complicated status and relationship with other social conditions through practical investigation. A programme has been introduced to dissect and expand the complexity of human rights in various aspects in order to speculate the problems and potentials in the current system. It provokes reflective dialogues and prompts physical interaction to critically question and reconsider the value of human rights in today’s society and what they may be in the future.
In this project, human rights are regarded as the discursive subject simultaneously developing and expanding with our society.
This proposal “Re-interpreting Human Rights” aims to investigate the dynamism and complexity of human rights as well as their current (and prospective) interpretation in order to explore the boundaries, possibilities and opportunities for their future towards the flourishing of humanity with freedom, respect and justice.
It is implemented through curation of an interactive exhibition. It aims to enhance the public’s understanding of human rights, to learn about other people’s perspectives and to stimulate reflection via observation, conversation and participation. Before considering changing the human rights laws, we should understand how they work not just in the court of justice but in our daily life and the community. The show does not intend to project a specific future but to encourage discourses and thoughts, both positive and negative, by offering different scenarios. It leaves the participants to decide whether the practice of human rights needs to be changed, and how. The ideas contributed by the audience will be captured and archived in a “communal library” for the public, functioning as an inspiration and evaluation of human rights campaigns as well as a resource for other projects.
The exhibition focuses on experiencing the intricacy and relations of human rights. The areas featured are deeply driven by the research and process of this proposal. They are transformed into several sub-sections and each of them consists of designed objects to communicate and interact with the audience. In the show, various perspectives of approaching human rights including time, culture, societal systems and personal value are presented, with some of them intertwining within the same collection of the exhibit. Each division highlights a particular theme, for instance, “The Hierarchy of Human Rights”, in order to re-understand the existence of human rights and their value in our (global) society as well as between the civilians and the government.
Do you have priorities on different human rights?
What is the most important human right for you?
1. Arrange the blocks and place them in a frame.
2. Take a picture and upload your creation.
# Importance # Value
Are you satisfied with the current status of human rights?
How are they (not) satisfying?
1. Take a card and show the degree of your satisfaction.
2. Write or draw your thoughts.
3. Add your card to the display.
# Review # Practice # Identify
What do human rights mean to you?
How will they be interpreted in the future?
1. Select the issue(s) that should be considered while interpreting the human rights.
2. You may also suggest new topics by writing on the blank blocks.
3. Take a picture and upload your result.
# Meaning # Concern # Time # Context
How will your society be affected if human rights disappear?
How are human rights related to different social conditions?
1. Take a film and imagine if that human right vanishes.
2. Give a mark on how much it will influence each aspect.
3. Add your film to the display.
# Evaluate # Envision # Functioning
Do you wish to have more human rights?
What new human right(s) will you propose?
How should it/ they be implemented?
1. Take a block and write down a new human right that you would suggest for your city.
2. Add your opinion to the map.
3. Triangle: Equality | Square: Freedom | Hexagon: Wellbeing | Rectangle: Others | Circle: None
# Insufficiency # Goal # Action
COMPLEXITY OF HUMAN RIGHTS
As a whole, human rights manifest the intricate relationship occurring simultaneously in two interwoven orientations:
• between the government and citizens
• among the individual citizens
Human rights explore the limit on the authority’s restraint towards the citizens’ freedom and express the respect and responsibility towards others in our society. It is a continuously expandable debate across time, cultures, social conditions and values. On the other hand, the governor’s political ascendancy shall be retained in a way to guarantee the implementation and protection of human rights, both nationally and internationally.
Human rights should be handled “with an objective yet sensitive understanding of unique social, political and economic differences and sensitivities” (Amatullo, 2009). It is a complex subject constantly influenced by various social factors. Being the world citizens under the global social contract of human rights, it is important to learn the complication, to respect the differences and also to be aware of the delicacy. Such understanding encourages a more inclusive elaboration of human rights, and thus a more critical attitude towards their practice.
The development of human rights endlessly challenges the restriction of legal regulations against the basic human values. Dissecting the dynamism of human rights helps locate the problems and leaks in the current practices so as to identify the emerging risks and uncover the new areas of concern. As a result, more opportunities will be generated and examined to facilitate a more well-rounded, humanitarian approach towards the future of human rights and our humanity.
An online platform gathering all contribution by visitors will function as a communal library open to the public. For some of the activities, they can upload the pictures to expand the database. And for those they wrote on the cards, information will be digitised and archived weekly on the platform by the organiser of this project.
The spatial design of the exhibition with a suggested route for visitors to experience as a travelling exhibition, starting from a personal perspective and gradually to a national and international angle.
What are human rights?
“Re-interpreting Human Rights” provides and enriches the experience of scrutinising human rights and their complexity from several angles with particular focuses. It examines the diverse meaning and significance of human rights across national cultures, time and individual positions. It encourages discussion and public involvement to contemplate the present principle and practice of human rights in order to discover and create more opportunities for their future implementation, and thus a more preferable society with freedom, respect and justice. The project is realised through an interactive exhibition co-created with visitors whose engagement is welcomed and valued. Their participation and thoughts are captured and archived as a resource for future campaigns. The proposal stimulates personal deliberation towards the issue and influence of human rights and makes them a public concern and responsibility.
Human rights in this project are re-interpreted as a medium to learn and respect others’ opinions, a catalyst to critically challenge and reflect the current situation, and a dynamic matter inter-directing our moral value and practice in flourishing our humanity.