“Free to Create - Create to be Free” is a digital #exhibition conceived by the Council of Europe. It is set up in consultation with the Steering Committee for Culture, Heritage and Landscape (CDCPP) to mark the 70th anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
In November 2020, the CDCPP launched in November 2020 a Manifesto on the Freedom of Expression of the Arts and Culture in the Digital Era. The exhibition is a follow-up to the launch of the Manifesto: Member states of the Council of Europe are invited to provide up to two artworks referring to the Manifesto and the overall topic of artistic freedom.
The platform of the digital #exhibition was first presented on 6 May 2021 in Kristiansand at the occasion of a Conference on the Freedom of Expression of the Arts and Culture in the Digital Era, held in conjunction with the 2nd European Conference on Democracy and Human Rights on 5 May. The digital exhibition was launched at the Plenary meeting of the CDCPP in June 2021 and is since then fully ready to receive artworks by member States.
The project is a follow-up to the 30th Council of Europe Art Exhibition “The Desire for Freedom: Art in Europe since 1945” (2012-15), drawing attention to the significance of arts and culture and their interrelation with the right for freedom of expression, as expressed in Article 10 of the ECHR, in upholding Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law. This digital #exhibition provides a fresh view promoting the importance of freedom of artistic expression and the role of art, culture and heritage in these times when democracy is under great pressure from the regional and global challenges relating to political, economic, technological and environmental issues . It also provides an innovative means to communicate on and disseminate Council of Europe values.
As the COVID-19-crisis has already shown, freedom of artistic expression is systemically relevant for functioning democratic institutions and environments; arts and culture are essential for well-being, fostering democratic processes and raising awareness for human rights. Accessibility and outreach of arts and culture can be widened exponentially by the Council of Europe's digital #exhibition.
By creating a digital #exhibition with works of art by artists from participating States, the Council of Europe offers an opportunity to:
- demonstrate the interrelation between art, culture, heritage and freedom of expression as a fundamental human right, and thus highlighting the significance of the role of arts, culture, heritage and creativity in promoting human rights and fostering democratic values in society;
- facilitate the mutual understanding of different perspectives reflecting various applications of freedom of artistic expression and representing the diversities of cultural expressions by engaging with artistic works from a multitude of participating States;
- raise the level of debate and transnational exchange on the topic of freedom of expression, encouraging participating States to formulate creative solutions and supportive reactions in their own countries;
- constitute a better understanding of the challenges relating to freedom of expression and human rights in today’s society, by inspiring critical reflection on artistic freedom related to political, economic, technological and environmental issues;
- make full use of the great potential and opportunities of digital technologies for wide-spread communication on the exhibition and its featured art works, as well as for innovative creations, creative processes and new productions;
- offer forward-looking formats on how to present visibility for artists working on the major issues of today’s societies, linking the presentation of artistic practice with a communication and interactive reflection-space.
The digital #exhibition, organised and overviewed by the CDCPP of the Council of Europe provides complete global digital access. The exhibition will also be displayed at the Palais de l’Europe in Strasbourg.
Participating States will be guided within the following parameters:
- The exhibition includes one to two artistic works per participating State and specifically feature the works offered by the incoming and outgoing member State holding the Chairmanship of the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers;
- The selection of the national exhibit is organised in a multi-stakeholder consultation process, involving civil society and art professionals. Thus, the process will result in co-operation between government (Ministry of Culture) and independent cultural organisations, curators or other institutions in the field of arts and culture;
- The digital #exhibition is accessible online worldwide and can be displayed as an installative “kiosk-version” in museums, art academies, art biennials and other relevant cultural institutions in interested participating States;
- Access to the digital #exhibition in its kiosk-version is planned to be offered in different locations at the Council of Europe’s headquarters in Strasbourg;
- The exhibition is being coordinated and communicated by the Council of Europe on the digital platform, ensuring that the diversity of the artistic projects remains vivid and at the same time does not lose sight of the overall concept.
- Matjaz Gruden - Director of Democratic Participation, Council of Europe
- Kathrin Merkle – Idea and oversight, Council of Europe
- Ivana Hrdas – Idea and coordination, Council of Europe
- Kata Krasznahorkai - Expert advisor and scientific coordination
- Olivia Solis - Design concept and graphics
- Christo Buschek - Development and production
- Vladan Joler - Artistic consultant