The Arts of Human Rights: Day One

Wednesday, 6 August, 2014 - 23:30

WiSER invites you to

The Arts of Human Rights: A workshop collaboration between Bard College and the University of Witwatersrand

Co-Organized by Thomas Keenan, Jonathan Klaaren, and Drew Thompson

5-7 August 2014

All events to be held at WiSER unless noted otherwise

Work in and on the field of human rights, thanks largely to its intense engagement with various forms of media, has increasingly taken an artistic turn.  And contemporary art seems more interested than ever in experimenting with political claims and critiques posed in terms of human rights. The “Arts of Human Rights” is a two-day workshop collaboration between Bard College and the University of Witwatersrand.  At one level, through presentations by curators, practicing artists, legal advocates, and social scientists, we seek to explore the language and discourses of human rights and the arts in ways that identify and interrogate the political spaces, styles of activism, and the force of the arts beyond the rhetoric of legality and problem-solving that currently dominates more traditional forms of human rights discourse. At another level, this collaboration will foster an intellectual community of like-minded colleagues across our institutional networks in an ongoing effort to establish an intellectual platform for future research and teaching exchanges.

Programme: 6 August 2014

8:45 - 9:00 a.m.: Welcome and Introductions

9:00 - 10:30 a.m.: Curating the Human in relation to Rights
Nontobeko Ntombela (Wits School of Arts), “A Fragile Archive: Recollecting History through Exhibition”

Karam Singh (SA Human Rights Commission), “Human Rights Film Festivals”

Carol Steinberg (Johannesburg Bar), “The Tensions of Arts Curation and Human Rights”


10:30-10:45: Tea


10:45 - 12:15 a.m.:  Rites of Art Performativity

Juan Orrantia (Wits School of Arts), “The Afterlife of Coco and its Dreams”

Senzeni Marasela (Wits School of Arts), “An Intervention”

Dean Hutton (2point8), “The Queer Artist as Social Being, as Body of Work”


12:15-1:15 p.m.: Lunch


1:30 - 3:00 p.m.: Activism and its Affects

Oraib Toukan (Bard College Al-Quds), “’We the Intellectuals’”

Farieda Nazier (University of Johannesburg), “Beyond the After Math: (Re)negotiating race, memory and consequence”

Julia Hornberger (Wits Anthropology), “Copying from the Masters: Counterfeit Rights”


3:00-3:15 p.m.: Tea


3:30 - 5:00 p.m.: Geographies of Intervention

John Ryle (Bard College/Rift Valley Institute), “Slavery in the Sudans: Human Rights and Local Moral Worlds”

Thabisani Ndlovu (Wits Ctr for Diversity), “‘They are people’: Recent writing from Zimbabwe and Focalisation of ‘the Human’ and the Everyday”

Pamila Gupta (WiSER), “Goan Aquatic Traditions and Legal Geographies in the Indian Ocean”


6:00 - 7:30 p.m.:  Keynote Event: The Art(s) of Forensics: A Cross-Disciplinary Conversation with Thomas Keenan (Bard College), Sarah Nuttall (WiSER), and Zanele Muholi (Inkanyiso Media).


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