Newtopia - The State of Human Rights

Newtopia - The State of Human Rights

The internationally renowned artist Alfredo Jaar lives and works in New York. He occupies a special position in Newtopia: apart from the presentation of his work in the group exhibition, the artist will also have a solo exhibition in Brussels, at the Brussels-based ING Cultural Centre, as a satellite project of Newtopia.

Solo exhibition

“We are extremely pleased to organise Alfredo Jaar’s solo exhibition - Let there be light - at our ING Cultural Centre,” said Patricia De Peuter, head of Art Management at ING Belgium. ”The collaboration between ING and Newtopia is unique. In this partnership, traditional sponsoring is extended to include a fifth exhibition.” This exhibition runs until 10 December 2012.

Compliance with human rights

“Alfredo Jaar (Santiago, Chile - 1956) is universally acknowledged and respected for his unrelenting artistic insight focusing on topics directly related to compliance with human rights. In his films, photographs, installations and textual art, he addresses topics such as social inequality, refugees and border conflicts, which have come to mark the globalised world in recent decades. His oeuvre creates individual awareness in visitors and an immediate feeling of collective responsibility.”

Answers to the major social, economic and political issues

“ING is hosting Alfredo Jaar’s exhibition in its Cultural Centre in Brussels, in the heart of Europe, where the gaze of the European population is focused on the bodies that must formulate tomorrow’s answers to the major social, economic and political issues that affect the future of our children.”

Focus on Africa

Jaar’s exhibition at the ING Cultural Centre will focus on the work he has made concerning the African continent. Seminal in Jaar’s long-term engagement with Africa is the Rwanda Project (1994-2000), which resulted in several works and is an attempt to tackle the senseless violence that resulted in the deaths of over a million Tutsis in 1994 (the third largest genocide of the 20th century), while the international community looked on in indifference and the UN failed to respond adequately.

At the heart of this project is the problem of representation: of photography’s contested relationship to violence, suffering, and pain. How can one possibly convey mass murder in pictorial terms? How is it possible to convey suffering without falling into the usual clichés of spectacularization or victimhood? How can one engender empathy when the world is so saturated with images of violence and suffering? What is the photographer’s responsibility in such cases?

Jaar manages to respond to such questions with great subtlety and by choosing a method of representation that reveals more by opting for selective or minimal representation, leaving the entirety of a story to unfold in the spectator’s head.

About Newtopia

Newtopia - The The State of Human Rights is a major international, comprehensive arts exhibition dedicated to human rights. It will feature work by over 70 artists of different generations working in diverse media and will examine a rich variety of artistic responses in relation to the basic tenets of human rights.

Many of these artists come from countries and geographies where human rights have been or are a particularly pressing issue such as the Arab World, China, India, Latin America, South Africa, Russia and certain former Soviet countries such as Belarus or the Ukraine. Half of the artists come from non-Western countries.

However, the exhibition will also explore the situation in the Western world in the post-1989, post-9/11 era, a time during which human rights seem to be increasingly disregarded, and hard earned civil liberties and social rights are currently under serious threat.


Newtopia will take place in various cultural institutions in the historic Flemish city of Mechelen – a city whose roots go back to the humanistic tradition of Erasmus and Thomas Moore thus providing an apt context for the exhibition.

Newtopia – The State of Human Rights
Mechelen, Belgium, 1 September – 10 December 2012

Alfredo Jaar – Let there be light
Brussels, Belgium, 10 October – 10 December 2012

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