Artists tackle human rights issues

Six established visual artists were last year commissioned by NGO Aditus to design large-scale posters on human rights to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the UN’s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Architects of Our Destiny by Magda AzabArchitects of Our Destiny by Magda Azab

The result is the exhibition Larger than Life! currently being held at a new venue, Desko, in Valletta.

The posters on display explore fundamental messages as dignity, equality, respect and diversity.

Designer and illustrator Ed Dingli presents a poster titled The Promised Land, featuring a group of people who are forced to leave their country in search of a better future.

Mr Dingli ponders on the obstacles these people will face, including the powerful and unpredictable sea, the coast guards and their new neighbours in the so-called ‘promised land’.

Cartoonist Seb Tanti Burlò focuses on Article 1 of the Declaration, which states that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”. However, this is very often not the case. The title of his work, Born UN/equal, is a riff off Philip Castle’s famous poster design for Stanley Kubrick’s 1987 war film Full Metal Jacket.

Global Injustice by Luke Caruana (left) and 27 by Deborah Attard

The Promised Land by Ed Dingli (left) and Remembrance by Sara Maria Scicluna

Ecological disasters and poor harvests are increasing inequality and political instability

On the other hand, designer and illustrator Daniela Attard looks at the perhaps lesser-known Article 27 of the Declaration which reads: “Everyone has the right to freely participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.”

Through her digital piece, aptly titled 27, Ms Attard visually explores the interconnectivity of the arts, culture and sciences and their ability to grow and flourish in any community; that is, given that anyone and everyone is allowed to participate and contribute.

Malta-based Italian illustrator Magda Azab says that the Declaration should guarantee us all the possibility of being ‘architects of our destiny’ – the title of her colourful poster. She thinks that most of us take this right for granted, but many others are not so lucky.

Born UN/equal by Seb Tanti BurlòBorn UN/equal by Seb Tanti Burlò

Graphic designer Luke Caruana’s poster, titled Global Injustice, features a melting globe, symbolising the cataclysmic effects of climate change.

He argues that ecological disasters and poor harvests are increasing inequality and political instability; and that while the wealthiest and the most developed countries in the world are largely to blame, the ones who will suffer the most will be the poor inhabitants of developing countries.

Artist Sara Maria Scicluna remembers those who lost their lives while crossing the Mediterranean Sea and those who have lost family and friends in such tragedies. Her poster, titled Remembrance, represents both the surface of the sea and the ever-rising death toll.

The exhibition is open until January 11 at Desko, a new co-working space and art gallery at 104, St Lucy Street, Valletta. Opening hours: Tuesdays to Fridays from 11.30am to 2pm and from 4 to 7pm, and on Saturdays from 11.30am to 3pm.

The Aditus project was curated by Alexandra Pace and was sponsored by Arts Council Malta and Creative Communities. For more information, visit

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