UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS

Inspiration for this print was a section of the ruins of the medieval abbey of Villelongue, north west of Carcassonne.

Thousands of years ago people explained mysterious happenings by weaving the events into stories, which later became myths. Over time those myths morphed into beliefs and into religions. As time progressed some people put another spin on those beliefs. Tolerance allowed beliefs to exist side by side, but our tolerance appears to have dwindled, despite ready access to literature and internet.

The print represents, in part, the history of the Languedoc in the South of France, of the Crusades and of the religious wars during the renaissance. Move on some four hundred years and Europe descended in the dark abyss of fascism. After a bit of reprieve while the rest of the world kept tearing itself apart it was on our doorstep yet again, in former Yugoslavia. What took place during the past centuries is still happening in the World of today, right under our noses except that the scale of the horror in now greater and the methods employed are manifold.

Now, more than ever, I believe people should heed the past and not fall prey to populists, megalomaniacs and demented rulers.

The vaulting is printed using five blocks of poplar ply.

Everything was printed by hand using the Japanese “Moku Hanga” method.

Two vaults depict the sack of Acre by the Crusaders in their quest to subdue the Muslims. Then we have the sack of Beziers and the burning of the Cathars on Mont Ségur during a crusade, initiated by the Pope, to bring ‘heretics into line’. Next is a scene of the massacre of St.Bartholomew’s eve, when Catharine de Medici dealt with the Protestants.

These scenes were carved on a plank of beech, just as Albrecht Dührer would have used at the time.

The upper vault depicts more recent history – the outrage of the apartheid era and the current situation in the Middle East.
As such they are represented by a more modern medium of linoleum and a different style of drawing.

The first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations in Latin has been printed with letter type 36 points “Times Roman”. The capital “O” was painted and gilded by hand.

The declaration had it roots in the “enlightenment”, A philosophical movement during the 18th century in Which Rousseau and the Baron the Montesquieu were prominent in shaping the ideas. It was then drafted by the Abbé Sieyès and the Marquis de Lafayette with collaboration of Thomas Jefferson. This declaration was the base for the United States Bill of Rights and was adopted by France’s National Constituent Assembly in 1989. With elements of the Magna Carta of 1215, the English Bill of Rights of 1689 and the 1776 United States Declaration of Independence it became the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

The English and French translations are:

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Tous les êtres humains naissent libres et égaux en dignité et en droits. Ils sont doués de raison et de conscience et doivent agir les uns envers les autres dans un esprit de fraternité.

This is followed by an excerpt of the poem Babi Yar, written by Yevgeni Yevtushenko.

Some events of recent history, the genocide in Armenia, in Rwanda Burundi, in Sréberniça and the camps of the Holocaust during the Second World War are written using a pen made of a goose feather quill.

It is a complex print involving quite a few blocks. Therefore I’ve printed only one single print so far, so if you are interested to buy a print of this, please contact me and I will print one. Go to the ‘shop’ to order.

copyright © to ACW ten Broek