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in the context of the Venice Biennial of Art

Artist and Curator Koen Vanmechelen


We firmly believe that art has a role to play in the current debate about human rights. 

Art as a trigger.  Art as a language. 

Coinciding with the 58th Venice Biennial, Belgian artist Koen Vanmechelen, together with the Global Campus of Human Rights, Fondazione Berengo and the MOUTH Foundation, initiated the birth of the evolving artwork Human Rights Pavilion.  Over the next three years, the work gains weight and momentum through contact with people and organisations involved or interested in interplay of art and human rights.

Together with a growing network of partners, we organize pop-up Cosmocafes around the world. Local hubs, 'free spaces'  to debate the conditions for sustainable coexistence of individuals and human cultures with each other, and with other species on the planet. 


We bring together thinkers and dreamers, visionaries and realists. Crossing over disciplinary boundaries and interconnecting global and local perspectives.  

The encounters are breeding ground for new knowledge and insights. The conversations are art. 

Vanmechelen: "Through my longstanding work around children’s and nature rights, I learned that connecting to others is vital. Underlying the philosophy that unifies my work is ‘every organism needs another organism to survive. Survival depends on the survival of the other or SoTO. Reason we call the encounters SoTO dialogues." 

Concepts and ideas emerging from the different Cosmocafes will be integrated in the Human Rights Pavilion. The final project will be presented to the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights, and to President and Curator of the 59th Biennial of Venice. It will be accompanied by a call to establish a recurrent Human Rights Pavilion as part of the Venice Biennial.


Art as a Human Right.


Initiated in the context of the 58th Venice Biennial of Arts, the pavilion comes together through a growing network of partners, over a period of 30 months.

For each Cosmocafe, we seek out different international locations and partners that believe in the interplay of arts and human rights. More specifically, we organize Cosmocafes linked to exhibitions and lectures of Koen Vanmechelen, cafes coinciding with the presentation of the UN Global report on children deprived of liberty and at important art locations and events around the world. Local partners help include a rich and diverse spectrum of people and disciplines and bring visibility and traction to its realization. 

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