Drawing for Freedom project exhibits in Paris’ Hotel de Ville
On Tuesday 8 December, 2015 more than 30 works of art produced by Norwegian artists thematically related to political prisoners in Azerbaijan were displayed at the main town hall (Hôtel de Ville) in Paris, France.
The event, hosted by Paris’ mayor Anne Hidalgo, celebrated FIDH, the world wide movement for human rights, a partner of NHC. Present at the event were, among the almost 300 guests, honorary president Mokhtar Trifi of the Nobel peace Prize 2015 winning Tunisian NGO Tunisian league for human rights, the famous singer from Benin Angélique Kidjo and many distinguished friends and supporters of FIDH.
The works of art, most of them portraits of some of the more than 80 political prisoners in Azerbaijan, were produced by art students at the Academy of Fine Art of the Oslo National Academy of the Arts (KHIO) in a cooperation with the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. One of the political prisoners depicted in the exhibition, distinguished human rights defender Leyla Yunus, was conditionally released on December 9, the day after the event. Artists Anne Marit Austbø and Terje Nicolaisen, and Berit Lindeman, NHC, were in Paris to install the exhibition.
About the project
The art project ”Drawing for Freedom” is a cooperation between the Norwegian human rights organization the Norwegian Helsinki Committee and the Academy of Fine Art of the Oslo National Academy of the Arts. The driving force at KHIO is Professor Jeanette Christensen. The project was initialized by and is coordinated by former NHC employee Anne Marit Austbø.
The thematic focus of the project is political prisoners in Azerbaijan. During the past two years there has been a massive crack-down on human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers and other activists in Azerbaijan, and the country currently holds more than 80 political prisoners.
”Drawing for Freedom” aims at contributing to increased awareness and action to free these prisoners, as well as to convey a message of solidarity. The project is based on the notion that to draw is to see, and is inspired by”Art for Democracy”, an initiative established in 2012 by Rasul Jafarov, a human rights activist currently in jail in Azerbaijan.
Some 20 art students and three Norwegian artists are involved in the project. The works presented here have been produced in September- November 2015 after the artists and students involved met with activists from Azerbaijan, including a former political prisoner and the relative of two of the political prisoners.
”Drawing for Freedom” will tour several European cities before a final exhibition at Akershus Art Centre, Oslo. Norway in September – October 2016.
The art students from KHIO who participated with works in Paris were: Linnea Vestre, Suzannah Rehell Øistad, Anna Sofie Mathiasen, Lykourgos Porfyris, Erle Saxegaard, Therese Frisk, Morten Jensen Vågen, Julia Alfe Bylund, Øyvor Hansen Engen, Elisabeth Samstad, Amanda Hårsmar, Hans Adell and Aksel Octavius Norreen Hauklien. Artists: Terje Nicolaisen and Anne Marit Austbø.