“The subject, the theme we have to deal with more and more is humanity; all the rest is secondary,” said photographer Oliviero Toscani. “Every person is a piece of art, therefore we have to treat each other with great care.”
Toscani made his comments at the launch of his photo exhibition “Razza Umana”. The exhibition features nearly 100 photographs along the front of Lac Leman in Geneva, Switzerland. The exhibition is sponsored by the UN Human Rights Office, which is also holding a smaller exhibition within its walls in Palais Wilson.
The photos are portraits that show humanity in all its many differences: gender, race, dress, adornment. When looked at one on one, each portrait is incredibly different, but as a whole, remind us the similarity of humanity, said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.
“These are our people, and we belong among them,” he said. “And these few images convey so simply the essence of our work, human equality, human dignity and the universality of human rights. Our mandate is to uphold and defend the right of every human being, to celebrate the equality of every woman, man and child and to combat discrimination. And this is what these portraits remind us to do.”
“Razza Umana” is a continuing project by Toscani in which he documents humanity as he sees it. He and his team visit cities, villages, squares, set up a photographic studio and take portraits of those who wish to participate.
Toscani was the creative force behind numerous successful, international advertising campaigns, most notably perhaps for his work for the clothing chain United Colours of Benetton (1982-2000). He has collaborated on several social campaigns, many of them controversial, on road safety, death penalty, anorexia, AIDS and violence against women.
“The future is humanity,” said Toscani. “It is not national or local. It is not the differences. It is humanity in all its pathos, but in the end it is all just one human race and this work proves that.”
The exhibition in Geneva builds on a previous project with the UN Human Rights Office Guatemala “Guatemala Diversa” (Diverse Guatemala). This exhibition portrayed the country’s diversity in its widest sense – ethnicity, age, gender, social status, etc. Some of those portraits appear in Geneva exhibition.
Razza Umana will be on display through the in lobby of Palais Wilson and along the lake front at Quai Wilson through 31 October 2016.
6 October 2016