Conference: The Flood of Rights


Organized by Thomas Keenan, Suhail Malik, and Tirdad Zolghadr

LUMA / Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College / Bard College Human Rights Project
2013 Conference
Arles, France
September 19-21, 2013

People now, almost routinely, make claims for their rights through user-generated communication channels, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr.  In images, as well as words and sounds, these claims are proffered and conveyed – we could say, demonstrated – by the self-proclaimed rights bearers themselves, addressed sometimes very directly, sometimes to an undetermined public. These images and their consequences constitute a human rights praxis outside of its conventional sites such as law, government, NGO activity, and formal journalism. They present a radical expansion and consolidation of human rights practices and institutions, and no less a new kind of universalism that underpins and is transformed by these praxes, perhaps constructing a practical communicative ethos that is yet to be understood.

Responding to the drastic changes in how political transformations in the name of justice have been organized and taken place since the first “The Human Snapshot” Conference in Arles in 2011, the second LUMA Foundation Conference in 2013, “The Flood of Rights,” will ask how technologies of image-capture and the channels of communication have in recent years transformed the very terms of human rights. That is, while “The Human Snapshot” explored the possibilities and limitations of the intersections between human rights, photography, and universalism, our focus now turns to the platforms and media of these intersections, and on how the newly produced and disseminated universalizing pressures on morality, law, civic engagement, and their institutions are themselves transfigured in the process.

Our key questions are then:

What are the technologies, languages, institutions, and interests that structure the global distribution of concepts and practices of humanism and universalism, and how do they leave their mark on these ideas themselves?

Which narratives, knowledges, and imageries have proven easier to export and import, and whose interests are at stake in the configurations at hand?

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Contributors include Amanda Beech, Rony Brauman, David Campbell, Olivia Custer, Rosalyn Deutsche,  Jackson Pollock Bar, Eric KluitenbergDavid Levine, Sohrab Mohebbi, Sharon SliwinskiHito Steyerl, and Bernard Stiegler.