Talk: “Vienna Banquet of Human Rights & its Guardians”

Photo: © Iris Ranzinger / KÖR GmbH, 2018

A conversation with artist Françoise Schein about her installation

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” The first sentence of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees every person the same rights and freedoms, regardless of the color of their skin, their gender, language, religion, political or social views, or ethnic and social background. Human rights are inherent, inalienable, universal and indivisible. Nevertheless, serious violations of these rights continue throughout the world. Even 70 years after the declaration was proclaimed by the United Nations, its protections need to be claimed again and again.

The installation “Vienna Banquet of Human Rights & its Guardians” by Belgian artist Françoise Schein, which opened in June 2018, presents the 30 articles put forward in the 1948 UN Declaration of Human Rights. It creates a public space of interaction, of reflection and learning, contemplation and rest: a banquet that playfully conveys the idea of human rights on different levels of representation.

This work is the latest in a series of worldwide installations on this subject in public spaces, which Françoise Schein launched in Paris in 1989. For the past three decades, most of her works have been about disseminating the conceptual foundations of democracy as set down in the Declaration of Human Rights of 1948. They appear around the world, in cities large and small, in many languages, and often with the active involvement of the population.