The work stands tall, bigger than I remembered. When I first saw it at Art Rotterdam its significance stood out despite the throng of people, artists and works. But not its size.
Now in a domestic space it speaks out louder and begs different conversations. The text lingers longer in your thoughts as you scan each article and contemplate its satirical and conflicting truths.
A Partial Declaration of Human Wrongs? Trump. Syria. Poverty. Oppression. Injustice. Racism (to name a few) fill my head before I even start to read. This year has witnessed a good share of political shocks propagating uncertainty and fear across the globe. Have we become immune to the depth of human wrongs?
This remarkable work was the creation of three people – a dialogue between artists, Libia Castro and Olafur Olafsson with philosopher Nina Brown. Addressing some of the turbulent political upheavals of our times they deconstructed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to rewrite 30 of the articles as the partial declaration of “human wrongs”.
Castro and Olaffson live in Rotterdam and Berlin, but the work was first shown in the 2012 Liverpool Biennial as part of a wider project on the ThE riGHt tO RighT . Every article brings to mind current events we are familiar with, and are accustomed to seeing and hearing through the media. There is a humour to the irony but underwritten with an acknowledged sense of humanity’s failings – what is right and what should never be acceptable.
For a text based piece of this size it has the ability to draw one in, to provoke, to explore our own beliefs and ask the question “are we going backwards or forwards?”
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was written on the 10th December 1948 in response to the experience of the Second World War, “as a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations”.
It’s a timely moment to reflect how this Partial Declaration of Human Wrongs expresses what we still need to achieve, rather than what we have just become accustomed to assimilating.