How To Do Rights With Things: Art and Politics


Image: Behjat Omer Abdulla working on the ‘From a Distance Series’ at Valand Academy, Sweden (Photo: Andreas Engman)

Venue: Southwark Room, Tate Exchange, Tate Modern 5th Floor

Date: Saturday, March 18th, 2017

Time: 12.00-14.00pm

We citizens should pay attention to the artists and push back against politicians who are trying to hold us back into 19th Century fantasies about who “we” are. (Francois Crepeau, Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants)

Who Are We? at Tate Exchange was a jam-packed week of installations, performances and  workshops – exploring the contested terrain of rights, migration, identity, citizenship, belonging and displacement. At the end of this full-on week, Learning Lab explored how artists are currently navigating the everyday reality of rights, alongside and in collaboration with audiences and publics.  How are rights performed and activated through the arts? How are rights enacted through the  materiality of things, bodies, sound, and movement? How can art and civic activism be forged in creative collaboration with advocacy and academia? To what end? Where are the critical fault lines? Who is safeguarding the rights of those artists who are putting their bodies on the line, persistently posing and proposing tough questions in what are tumultuous and precarious times?

Learning Lab reflected on a week of creative exchange and public engagement, taking the form of an open table with a range of contributors – including artists,  activists, academics and voices from the field of advocacy.

Coordinated by Lizzy Willmington.

Moderator: Áine O’Brien, Counterpoints Arts