On the 9th of June, Koen Vanmechelen’s statue Collective Memory, is inaugurated to honour the importance of human rights at the heart of one of the most significant global institution in education. The installation is inaugurated during the opening of the 2017 Venice School of Human Rights and Democratisation and is part of ‘HumanRightStress’.
The sculpture is a symbol of hope in times when democracy is under stress and human rights under attack, says Manfred Nowak, Secretary General of the European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratisation (EIUC). Both a thought-provoking and a philosophical comment, it’s an adamant statement in times when human rights do not seem much favoured by the new world economy.
The statue consists of an ancient Greek statue of a child, sitting on the Encyclopedia of Human Rights staring pensively in front of him. The artist explains: “The books, our collective memory, allow the child to sit comfortably upright and hold the promise that one day it will be able to stand on them and reach for the sky. The column of books is incomplete but growing steadily; it is the first stage in the political model that is heavily under pressure but is the only way out of the morass of history: democracy.”
Clearly in times when human rights are becoming ever more fragile, the sculpture emphasises that these rights remain paramount to us all. As Manfred Nowak, Secretary General of (EIUC) notes “Universal human rights are based on the equal dignity of every human being on our planet. It is the strongest means of empowerment which humanity has ever created. The European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratisation and the Global Campus of Human Rights will benefit from Vanmechelen’s sculpture as a source of inspiration to continue our efforts of spreading the message and culture of human rights and democracy to every corner of our globe.”
For Vanmechelen, the EIUC is the perfect location to install his work. As the artist notes “I am honoured to have the sculpture at the EIUC”. Clearly like Vanmechelen, the institution believes in the fight for freedom of speech, placing this at the top of their agenda. Indeed, they are part of the few which will face topics often ignored, hoping to help others and in doing so providing the “most beautiful manifestation of diversity”.
JUNE 9TH 16:30
European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratisation