Grand opening of Artivism: The Atrocity Prevention Pavilion

On May 9, 2019, more than 600 visitors gathered in Venice, Italy, for the opening of Artivism: The Atrocity Prevention Pavilion, an art exhibition organized by the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR)  to showcase the connections between art, human rights, and mass atrocity prevention. The exhibition, which runs alongside the 58th Venice Art Biennale, is housed in the beautiful Palazzo Dandolo and will be open to the public through November 24, 2019. Artivism represents AIPR’s first public-facing event of this scale. Its goal is not only to showcase to visitors the role the arts have played in transforming post-atrocity societies, but also to give visitors the practical tools and information they need to play their own part in atrocity prevention at home and abroad.

More than seventy years after the Holocaust, genocide and other mass atrocities remain a constant threat to global peace and security. The violence occurring today in, for example, Syria, Sudan, Yemen, and Burma, serves as a daily reminder of the devastating consequences of the international community’s failure to act. Recognizing the warning signs of mass atrocities is an essential step in preventing them and the key to taking action. With this in mind, the Auschwitz Institute worked to organize Artivism: The Atrocity Prevention Pavilion – the first exhibition of its kind, located at the intersection of art, human rights, and the prevention of genocide.

Artivism is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that illustrates how the arts are used as a mechanism for preventing and responding to mass violence. The pavilion, co-curated by Luca Berta, Francesca Giubilei, and Kerry Whigham, introduces visitors to the personal, emotional, and historical realities of mass atrocities, inviting attendees to learn about the essential role played by the arts as a grassroots tool for social transformation and a deterrent to systematic violence. It showcases the works of six artists and activist collectives from across the globe: Rebin Chalak from Iraq, Canada’s National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, Elisabeth Ida Mulyani from Indonesia, the South African Intuthuko Embroidery Project, the Argentinian Grupo de Arte Callejero (GAC), and Aida Šehović from Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Beyond demonstrating the fundamental role that the arts play in preventing large-scale violence, Artivism informs visitors about the power and the responsibility that individuals and their communities have to prevent mass atrocities and protect human rights. The exhibition educates, empowers, and transforms attendees into genuine agents for change by highlighting their capacity to contribute to the prevention of mass atrocities. In the pavilion’s final room, the Auschwitz Institute and other human rights organizations from around the world share their work with visitors and offer a series of concrete steps that each individual can take at both the local and global levels to build a world that prevents genocide.

The exhibition is currently open to the public on Wednesday through Sunday of each week from 10 am – 6 pm and will continue until November 24, 2019. Artivism is housed in Palazzo Dandolo, just off the San Tomà vaporetto stop. More details on the exhibition, including a map of the Palazzo’s location, can be found here. Equally, for those who are unable to attend the exhibition in person, information on both the art objects on display and each of the artivists’ stories can found by visiting the exhibition’s website at www.artivism2019.com.