Artists and lawyers in dialogue

Institute – Conversations – Art & human rights

How can we combine artistic and legal interventions to strengthen social and human rights movements? ECCHR and Allianz Kulturstiftung ask this question in our project “Transformation through the arts and law – Artistic and legal interventions.” To find out how the interplay of different voices can challenge systems and encourage societal debates, we have developed ECCHR EXPLORE, a platform that playfully inspires us to dive into different discourses around the arts and human rights.


Conversations between artists and lawyers form the basis of this project. Together with the designers and data scientists from metasphere, ECCHR has developed the EXPLORE platform, which makes our podcast series Framing Human Rights and associated event streams both audible and readable. The machine-learning-based technology allows the platforms users to retrace single bits of conversations with the option to put them into context with bits of other conversations and works of art in an intentional, non-linear manner. Thereby, users can chart their own unique path through the dialogues.


Engaged arts are becoming an increasingly important component of the contemporary human rights scene. Political art can enrich discourse around human rights, making it deeper, more emotional, historically resonant and intersectional. Works of art can express human rights discourses through a variety of forms and means: by documenting and raising awareness of crimes, unmasking and accusing perpetrators, tracking and identifying evidence, conveying different perspectives, facilitating practices of empowerment, (re)constructing memory and identity, fomenting emotions like empathy, shame and anger, and developing new modes of language.

But we need to remember: art should not be “used” by human rights. Art creates a space beyond the superficially visual and offers a space for interpretation; art is the possibility of form and thus also of forms of social possibility.


Interface ECCHR EXPLORE © metasphere
Interface ECCHR EXPLORE © metasphere

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Glossary (1)


Postcolonial legal criticism

The academic field of postcolonial legal criticism looks at the repercussions of colonialism and imperialism today. In this context, law is seen as a social and cultural construct which changes over time. During the period of colonialization by European states, national and international law developed in a way that made it possible to legitimize for example slavery and genocide. European law, with its often racist elements, spread to many parts of the world in the course of colonialization.

Postcolonial theoreticians show how imperial laws served to cover up colonial violence and how injustice was legitimized through the fig leaf of law. The law was used, for example, to deny indigenous populations in the colonies their status as legal persons. The development of international law was also closely interwoven with colonialization. Postcolonial legal criticism today tries to uncover and challenge colonial continuities in both national and international law.


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