Bernstein International Human Rights Symposium: Art and Authority / Art as Advocacy

by Orville H. Schell, Jr. Center for International Human Rights


Thu, Apr 11, 2024

4:15 PM – 6 PM EDT (GMT-4)

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Politics and art have always had a fraught relationship. Tyrants and demagogues have used art to secure and sustain authority. They have also viewed artists as dissidents and art as a threat to their own power. Some artists and scholars make claims about the ability of art to foster empathy and inspire action. Others disavow art’s political potential. Human rights, as an emancipatory discourse and practice, is entangled in these dichotomies. This year’s Bernstein Symposium seeks to explore fundamental questions about the relationship between art and international human rights. What role can art play in bringing about social change, particularly achieving greater respect for human rights? How can we assess – and on what terms can we even discuss – the “efficacy” of art? What ethical considerations affect the artistic representation of violence, suffering and loss and the publication and distribution of such representations? How do artists themselves understand the relationship between aesthetic goals and social goals?

The Symposium schedule is as follows:


4:10 PM Welcome and Introductory Remarks

James Silk, Binger Clinical Professor of Human Rights, Yale Law School

4:30 PM Keynote: Transforming Political Rage into Activism

Nadya Tolokonnikova, Artist and Founder, Pussy Riot
Commenter: Kymberly Pinder, Stavros Niarchos Foundation Dean and
Professor of Art and History of Art, Yale School of Art


9:30-10:45 Art as Truth

Toto Kisaku, Playwright
Grzegorz Kwiatkowski, Poet/Musician
Marta Kuzma, Professor of Art, Yale School of Art

11-12:30 Art as Questioning

Minerva Cuevas, Conceptual Artist
Andrei Kureichik, Filmmaker and Playwright
Meleko Mokgosi, Painter and Associate Professor in Painting/Printmaking and Director of Graduate Studies in Painting/Printmaking, Yale School of Art

12:30-1:30 Lunch, Yale Dining Hall

1:30-3 Art as Activism
Threa Almontaser, Award-winning poet
Avram Finkelstein, Artist, Activist, and founder of the Flash Collective
Jasmine Rivera, Interim Executive Director, Pennsylvania Immigrant & Citizenship Coalition and curator, Queremos Justicia / We Want Justice

3-3:30 Coffee break

3:30-5 Art as Solidarity

Russell Craig, Artist, Muralist, and Co-Founder of Right of Return
Tenzin Dickie, Poet, Translator, and Editor
Ali Gali ’22, Writer, Artist, & Cultural Organizer

For more information about full symposium programming, please visit the Schell Center website:

If you have any questions, please contact

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Orville H. Schell, Jr. Center for International Human Rights | Website | View More Events

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