A Friday evening in the middle of March, a queue of people curled from Lunds konsthall. The press viewing of the exhibit “We have a dream” had started, the destination I was expectantly headed towards.
Text: Isabel Vinterbladh – Translation: Viktor Jönsson
Everyone dreams of something. Peace, passing the next exam, validation, or a better world. Those whose portraits hangs, one by one, on the walls in Lunds konsthall all had one thing in common. They dreamed of changing the world.
114 characters from every corner of the world have been interviewed and photographed by the initiators, Alber Wiking and Oscar Edlund. They have all received a spot in their book “We have a dream”, and in Lunds konsthall, you could see an assortment of the portraits. A big diversity of people from all over the world was featured in the exhibit. There was perhaps an underrepresentation of South Americans compared to the other continents. I speculate why that is, and maybe it is because we in the western world do not hear that much of what goes on in South America. On the other hand, it was to my absolute delight that there was an about equal apportion of men and women.
By going around and reading the texts to the portraits, I learned much about our modern history. About what people are fighting for today. Everything from people unknown to me like Muhammad Yunus, founder of the microcredit concept, and Julia Kalthoff, an axe maker who became CEO and manage to pass several important decisions regarding the environment, to more famous names such as the Dalai Lama, Zara Larsson, and Jan Eliasson. I found names I knew but had not expected to be there, among the portraits. For example, the Chilean writer and my namesake Isabel Allende. I have read several of her books, but I had no idea that she also founded her own Isabel Allende Foundation which works for women’s rights.
Compassion and human rights were a consistent theme in the exhibit. I thought that it was very interesting to see how art could be used to convey something important. One of the messages clearly conveyed by the world’s great inspirers was that nothing is impossible. In one way or another, they fought for what they believed in. Even when society, close relative or others were against them, they did not give up hope but kept going with the belief that nothing is impossible. Even in the hardest of moments, this provides hope like when I stood before an extremely dark portrait, I could still try to see a glimpse of the possibility of change.
“Our life is the only one we know”, was one of the many quotes from the exhibit, and this was taken from Bob Geldof’s interview. Bob Geldof is an Irish musician who is trying to fight poverty in the world. I cannot but agree with him. Because even if we read and hear about the experiences of others and try to grasp what it would be like to be in their shoes for a day, it is never the same as having to experience it. In addition, all the impressions we get is analysed from our own point of view – which means that it is still you, with your opinions, who are walking the shoes.
Something else that I realised was that every person featured around us has a history. Just because you have a fancy title in an office at the highest floor today, that does not mean the road to get there was straight and easy. People out there are fighting to reach their dreams and for a better world. For example seventeen year old Ida Engblom, who has gone from being bullied and feeling vulnerable, to today being part of Plan International Sveriges Ungdomsråd. There she wants to have the opportunity to help others who are vulnerable and inspire them to follow their dreams.
All of these Nobel prize winners, freedom fighters, environment activists, feminists, musician, writers, politicians and artists who are portraited here are trying to change the world for the better. If we listened to what these people had to say, would we live in a better world? What more is needed than the knowledge that girls have genital mutilation forced upon them, the tyranny people are living under in North Korea, how unfair homosexuals are treated or the racist conditions around the world? After having walked up and down, read and studied the artworks, I have something of a lump in my stomach that the world is doomed. That we might as well give up, because how can we possibly fight all this injustice and cruelty? But maybe, maybe thanks to every amazing and moving stories about people who are giving it their all, to make big and small changes happen can these horrors that happens throughout the world today be overcome by dreams.
A visit to Lunds konsthall and the exhibit “We have a dream” could provide a wake-up call. Everyone in the world does not live under the same conditions as we do, and if nothing else, I recommend that you go there to be inspired and think about what your dream really is.