Artist Rights

Artist Rights considers the critical roles artists play in society in relation to their mobility, free expression, safety and labour conditions. It includes articles, discussions, and examples of fieldwork at the intersection of arts, journalism, and human rights. To learn more about these processes, see ArtistSafety.net.

Open Casket

Sarah Schulman, New York City 

Controversy engulfed the Whitney Biennial recently over the inclusion of Dana Schutz’s “Open Casket”, an abstract painting that depicts the violently mutilated body of Emmett Till who was murdered by two white men in Mississippi in 1955 after he was falsely accused of whistling at a white woman, Carolyn Bryant. On April 10,...

National and International Cultural and Human Rights Organizations Denounce Trump’s Executive Order on Immigration

National Coalition Against Censorship, United States 

Today, more than thirty cultural institutions and human rights organizations around the world, including international arts, curators’ and critics’ associations, organizations protecting free speech rights, as well as U.S. based performance, arts and creative freedom organizations and alliances, issued a joint statement opposing United States President Donald J. Trump’s immigration...

Qalandiya International — A Palestinian Biennial

Gian Spina, Ramallah 

the dove’s collar a star abandoned on the roof and a winding alley leading to the port This sea is mine This sea air is mine —Mahmoud Darwish1   In Palestine, the impossibility of artistic freedom and the denial of freedom to move within one’s own country conspire as an...

The Communicative Ecology of Artist Rights

Sidd Joag, New York City 

Even as the relationship between the fields of arts, culture and human rights becomes more defined, the global community of organizations, networks and civil society initiatives working at that intersection, advocating for artists and defending free expression remains a relatively small, tight-knit group. However, despite existing connectivity, there is a...

Relocating: Emad Tayefeh

Sidd Joag, New York City 

It cost Emad Tayefeh $10,000 to bribe Iranian border guards for safe passage to Turkey, $2,500 of which was financed by the advocacy organization Freedom House. While living as a refugee in Istanbul he paid $4,700 for rent, $3,000 for food, and $600 for local transportation over the course of...

From the Editors: On Artist Rights

Shawn Van Sluys, Guelph, Ontario 

ArtsEverywhere recently passed its six-month anniversary—a milestone that slipped past us unnoticed as we focussed intently on shaping new content and implementing projects that undergird our various lines of inquiry. In November we’re more fully launching the Artist Rights section of the ArtsEverywhere platform—something that has been in design for the...

Honduras: The Habit of Silence—A Graphic Novel

German Andino, Bilbao, Spain 

Script & Ink: German Andino Introduction Script: Alberto Arce Translation: Andrew Hart *Click on arrows or drag/swipe images to navigate. About German Andino German Andino was born in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, in 1984. He is a man of the streets. But his story, in the streets, is not one...

Rejecting the Tragedy of Violence

Arahmaiani, Yogyakarta, Java, Indonesia 

That afternoon, surrounding the Tugu monument in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, a group of people could be seen carrying banners, chanting in a loud and menacing tone. They wore masculine-looking clothes: army camouflage jackets and Middle Eastern headwear. This group of young men had an unfriendly appearance, and looked as if they...

Embed in Egypt

Jakob Sergei Weitz, New York City 

Emine Gozde Sevim is a Turkish photographer who lived in Egypt from 2011 to 2013, during the revolution to overthrow former President Hosni Mubarak and the tumultuous years that followed. Her photos capture the personal stories and memories that make up the complex lives of the people that lived through...

The Cost of Telling the Truth

Sidd Joag, New York City 

After living in hiding for six years in the United States, journalist C.M. Rien Kuntari is ready to go home. “I don’t want to live the rest of my life as a prisoner or as a political asylee. I want to go home as a free person,” she says. Since...

Art, Ethnography, and Exorcism in El Barrio

Sidd Joag, New York City 

This past July, I traveled with a journalist, German Andino, and the subject of his new graphic novel, Pastor Daniel Pacheco. We visited Rivera Hernandez, a colony of 59 barrios located on the outskirts of San Pedro Sula and, statistically, one of the most violent urban areas in the world....

‘Beirut Mutations’

Samer Mohdad, Beirut 

When popular uprisings were taking place in the countries bordering Lebanon, my book and subsequent exhibition project Beirut Mutations were only just starting to take shape. While many around the world were observing the unfolding developments with hope, I had the feeling that what other Arab countries were experiencing had...

The “Depths:” Visual Culture in the Murder Capital of the World

Sidd Joag, New York City 

It is widely held that Honduras acquired its name from Christopher Columbus, who upon surviving a tropical storm off the Caribbean coast allegedly commented, “Gracia a Dios que hemos salido de estas Honduras,” or “Thank God we survived those treacherous depths.” Strategically located on the Caribbean between the Mosquito Coast...

Looking Back on Charlie Hebdo

Todd Lanier Lester, São Paulo 

The day following the Charlie Hebdo attack, I was in line at a public notary office in São Paulo. The local news televised footage of the massacre, relayed on a flat screen meant to placate those of us waiting for an official stamp on this or that official document. My...

Analyzing the Art of Resistance

Mary Ann DeVlieg, New York City 

A theatre director is beaten and stabbed to death in front of his apartment. Another is shot to death in front of his wife and child. A filmmaker is kidnapped, his fingers cut off, and he’s left to bleed along the roadside. A radio DJ wakes to see his car...

Street Art Illuminates Egypt’s Lingering Problems

Sarah Lipkis, New York City 

Under former President Hosni Mubarak, street art in Egypt was heavily monitored. The threat of punishment, prison sentences, and fines, coupled with ubiquitous police presence, made it nearly impossible for artists to carry out their craft as forbidden by the regime. The January 2011 protests in Tahrir Square, however, gave...

Human Rights, Development, and Democracy in Africa: What Role for the Arts?

Mike Van Graan, Cape Town 

This is a repost of an article that first appeared on African Futures  In the past 10 to 15 years, a number of African countries have seen sustained and high economic growth, yet this has not lifted the continent’s inhabitants out of poverty. While poverty has been massively reduced in...

The Gezi Park Experience

Pelin Tan, Istanbul 

GEZI PARK—Before the Turkish government brutally invaded Taksim Square and Gezi Park with water cannons and tear gas last Saturday, protesters held forums to discuss sustainable action that would continue the resistance beyond the park’s occupation. The Gezi Park experience is about collaboration, solidarity despite differences, voluntary shared labor, an...

Dissident Artists Matter, Regardless of Their Fame

Sidd Joag, New York City 

Often when I explain what we do at freeDimensional, I am met with some version of, “So like that Chinese artist, what was his name…yes, Ai Weiwei. So like him, you work with artists like him?” To which I often want to respond, “NO! Not Ai Weiwei, every other artist...