Anniversary — an act of memory, Act 40: a recitation from memory of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Some time ago now Colin and I took part in Acts of Memory at the Arnolfini. Here is a link to artist Monica Ross' website for more information about the project.
The event took place in the theatre space with a wide range of people reciting articles from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Different people recited their chosen articles in different languages; Italian, Arabic, Spanish, Dinka, Farsi and many more.
Both Colin and I both decided to recite the article's we'd chosen in plain english rather than the more formal and legal English the original is written in.
Colin recited article 3:
You have the right to live, and to live in freedom and safety.
I recited article 27:
You have the right to share in your community's arts and sciences, and any good they do. Your works as an artist, writer, or a scientist should be protected, and you should be able to benefit from them.
Here are some email conversations with Monica Ross:
Thank your for your mail. I am very glad to receive it and very moved by the powerful points you have made about access to the arts. As you point out Article 27 can be so easily taken for granted, or even seen as a luxury, when it is really a fundamental right for us all and one of the most significant indicators of an equal society. I'm so pleased that colin had such a good experience too. It means a lot to know this - thank you. And he spoke his Article wonderfully, a great contribution.
Would you consider contributing your mail, or part of it, to the forum eve? -am sure others would appreciate the valuable emphasis of the points you make.
Just a thought, no worries if not.
My warmest thanks and best wishes,
Thank you for your email and positive comments and apologies for my delay in replying.
I have shown Colin your email and the photo - he's happy for you to use them, I am also happy for you to use my photo.
Colin said he found it a really eye opening experience and interesting to meet so many different people all agreeing on the importance of human rights. (summary of his thoughts)
From my experience I found it an empowering act to declare what at first thought may appear to be a rather auxiliary kind of right - one we take for granted that we have in this country but if you spend just a few hours out and about with someone for example with learning difficulties - suddenly it's brought home that access to the arts is not so easily open for everyone - just everyday barriers such as feeling vulnerable and unsafe out at night from years of abuse & bullying from people on the street mean you don't want to go out at night - so you miss anything that happens in the evening. And the benefit of the arts - to be part of a community to share in ideas and expressions of emotions and responses to our life experiences - this I would say is essential for our wellbeing. It sounds such a simple thing but a friendly and welcoming 1st contact at an arts venue can be the most important thing to create open access to the arts for people without this they can be intimidating and bewildering places particularly for someone who the experience is something new.
So thank you for the opportunity to share with other people from so many different backgrounds our human rights and because of the public arena these ideas are reflected backward and forward and between all who were there to bring perspective on our local, global and personal responsibilities to uphold those common values.
Thank you again.