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photography showing staged interpretations of the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of

Human Rights

Storytelling Our Rights through the Eyes of Young People

under the friendly and worldwide auspices of Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs
of the Czech Republic Karel Schwarzenberg and the Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs
of the Republic of Austria Michael Spindelegger


When Austrian photographer Lukas Maximilian Hüller and his international team went to Johannesburg, South Africa, to work with the children of the Ithuba Skills College on a visual interpretation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights their expectations were very soon exceeded. The project unleashed the children’s creativity in a collaborative process spanning several months. The students determined the staged interpretation of each article of the Declaration with enthusiasm and vision. They themselves then acted as protagonists of the images, once again proving that art is in itself a global language that speaks to us all.


„In most of Europe, as well as most of the rest of the world, it is believed that Human Rights problems do not exist. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Time and again, there are distressing and deplorable situations which lead to the violation of Human Rights. Therefore, it is vitally important to visualise these violations, as the majorty of people do not enjoy reading endless words. However, a lively, imaginary description attracts everyone. This is why I would like to congratulate “thehumanrightsproject” on their work and wish this impressive concept continued success..“

Karel Schwarzenberg Foreign Minister of the Czech Republic


“The concept of freedom of speech and the unbridled expression of the mind, soul and conscience is at the core of art. This unique joint South African – European art project visualizes that the aspirations and ambitions enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are truly universal and transcend all borders. These images are a call for action to advance human rights – everywhere.”

Michael Spindelegger, Federal Minister of European and International Affairs of Austria


“The humanrightsproject photographs remind us all of the importance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for building a fair society. Every one of its Articles must be understood by us all. Former President Mandela said that for those who had to fight for their emancipation “the Universal Declaration of Human Rights served as the vindication of the justice of our cause. I believe that the challenge, especially for those who will occupy positions of leadership, is to build a human world consistent with the provisions of that historic Declaration.”

Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, South Africa


The Aim of thehumanrightsproject.org was it to create an appropriate pictorial interpretation of each of the thirty articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. While the Declaration has been translated into 375 languages there has rarely has been a visual interpretation of the complete text and probably never one exploiting the powerful medium of real staged photography.

With a 360-degree analogue panoramic camera Lukas Maximilian Hüller and Juliane Rezman Hauser created “frozen short films” involving actors, participating artists and complex staging – a genuine collaboration between real live people, attempting to translate the Declaration into “picture stories.”

The project has already been on display in Austria, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, The United States of America and South Africa triggering and supporting public debate about the significance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights today. More than 60 years after
this milestone in the advancement of humanity towards a more just and equitable global society many people are far from realizing their rights. Using art as a universally accessible medium for people raises awareness on just how much still needs to be done in order to turn the Declaration into a reality.


Benefits of the project are going to be reused for cultural, art & educational projects concerning human rights activities.


The Motivation

The Declaration of Human Rights is a manifest that evolved from the founding of the United Nations in 1948. Whether or not it was meant by all UN participants as an achievable maxim for the post war world, it does remain a vital testimonial to the assumption that the people of the entire world should have access to the dignity of their species.
However, a cursory glance around the world today makes clear that the 30 articles contained within the declaration of Human Rights have, for the most part, been ignored, and are likely to remain ignored. It is imperative, therefore, that there is a concerted international effort to revive and revitalise the values of this essential document on behalf of the world population in general, but particularly for the many desperately needy who these articles were originally intended to protect.
The concept that all people, the weakest as well as the stronges have a right to the basic necessities of a civilised existence seems to be incontrovertibly and the reasonable ingredients of a fair society. Sad to say this apparently reasonable aim has never been achieved and, at present, it looks highly unlikely that it will ever be achieved.

In fact as a result of Acts of God, War, Corruption, Greed, Religious Fanatacism, the utter ruthlessness of those with power, as well as the general unfairness of life, increasingly fewer of the world`s population have the possibility to live their lives secure in the knowledge that, whatever else, they have their Human Rights. Furthermore, nine hundred million of the world`s population cannot read or write, so will never have the possibility of understanding them, let alone actually knowing of their existence.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is translated into 375 languages, there has never been a visual interpretation of this kind of the complete Declaration of Human Rights.


The Aims

Our project is not to analyse all these reasons, but to focus on the possible effect of exposing this declaration as broadly as is possible. In the process of producing a series of dramatically powerful Picture Stories, vividly illustrating each of the articles of the declaration for everyone to understand, we intent to reach far beyond the capacity of the written word, exploiting the highly emotive and dramatic medium of staged photography.
The photographs have a remarkable power and the potential to be produced on a very large scale. So we are confident they will be vividly comprehensible to everyone. Our intention is to make sure that these images are seen far and wide throughout all spectrums of society, particularly highly populated areas of the Third World, in public arenas, as well as on billboards.
Such tactics will not exclude the targeting of international Politicians and Decision-Makers through appropriate exhibition venues and museums, as well as Fund-Raising Auctions.
A major aspect of this project is to involve fifty pupils of a township school in Johannesburg, South Africa, who participated the realization of the photographs from April 2009 to March 2010. The students themselves not only acted out human rights abuses, serving as the protagonists of each story, but through lengthy discussion processes, determined the direction of the photograph`s construction. We have spent several months working with these students and have been inspired and motivated by their enthusiasm and their environment.
Our project is to interpret visually and theatrically each of the thirty articles of the declaration, using the intensity of a 360 degree analog panoramic came- ra. Instead of a computer generated photography we create “Frozen Short Films” involving actors, participating artists and highly complex staging.