(By Camilla Palestra)
Article 13:3 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights – Everyone has the right to move freely and cross frontiers to their chosen territory. No individual should have an inferior status to that of capital, trade, telecommunication or pollution that traverse all borders.
To many of us this all sound obvious. However, since the 1948, year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, citizens of the world trying to escape war conflicts, poverty, discrimination, intimidation, and slavery are still negated the right to move freely, to hope for a better life. Not far from us, the Mediterranean sea is shamelessly becoming the grave of those citizens, while we, more fortunate citizens are impotently witnessing an unjust fracture between a first class world and the rest. The world is becoming unsustainable; socially, environmentally and financially.
Actions need to be taken and in the genuine belief that an artistic action can make the difference in our lives, artists Lucy + Jorge Orta initiated in 1995 the project Antarctica World Passport. Known for their strong commitment to improving the world we live in through their artistic practice, the Orta’s first started to look at the Antarctica territory as our symbolic last fragile hope for a more equitable world. The Antarctic Treaty, signed in 1959 by twelve countries, instituted the continent as common territory. The Madrid Protocol, ratified in 1991, has frozen mining until 2048 and banned industrial research or exploitation for fifty years. Military activity is similarly prohibited. Since then, Antarctica has become a land of peace, science and international cooperation.
Drawn on their interpretation and projection of this dreamland, with its unique peaceful status, Lucy + Jorge travelled to Antarctica, invited by the Biennale del Fine del Mundo in 2007, to set up their Antarctica Village – No Borders. Triggered by the need to mobilise citizens of the world to protect Antarctica as a symbol of hope and to take responsible action for peace, justice, the environment and sustainable development, on their return from Antarctica they launched The Antarctica World Passport. Conceived as a public engagement project, with the aspiration to enable the world citizens to act on a global scale, the Antarctica World Passport proposes the new amendment to the article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with which we opened this text.
Since 2008, members of the public have been invited to visit installations of Antarctica World Passport Bureau across the world, resembling precarious shelters where refuges find, or sometimes lose their hopes. Since then, thousands of people committed to becoming ‘citizens’ of a no-borders community entailing combating all acts of barbarity, fighting against intimidation and poverty, supporting social progress, protecting the environment and endangered species, safeguarding human dignity, and defending the inalienable rights to liberty, justice and peace in the world. Antarctica World Passport brings together to date 10,000 individuals who received the uniquely numbered ‘passport’ and in exchange pledged their support to the project’s principles.
The community is likely to grow and becomes stronger and powerful and the Antarctica to become from symbol to reality for all the citizens of the world.
Antarctica project is currently on show at La Villette Paris as part of the exhibition ‘Lucy + Jorge Orta: Food Water Life’, open until the 21 September 2014. Join the Antarctica World Passport Community on Facebook here. And sign up for your Antarctica World Passport here.