27.05.2011 - UNESCOVENICE PRESS Media Advisory N°2011-04

Roma Pavilion. UNESCO celebrates Cultural Diversity

© BAK/Open Society Foundations -"Call the witness" logo – Roma Pavilion 2011

ILLUMInations – 54th Edition of the International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia 2011. The UNESCO Office in Venice is hosting this year, as a Collateral event of the 54th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia 2011, the exhibit “Call the Witness”, a project of the Roma Pavilion. The exhibit will be opened to the public from 4 June to 9 October 2011, Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 18:00, at Palazzo Zorzi (4930 Castello, Venice). The exhibition, which includes the presentation of works by seven artists, will be developed during the first three days of the Venice Biennale through a flux of live “testimonies” – works of art, performances, talks, and conversations by and with artists, philosophers and politicians. With the active contributions of various personalities across Europe, the Pavilion will reflect on the emerging voice of the Roma community on the artistic contemporary European scene.

Call the Witness considers the situation of the Roma and Roma art as emblematic for the world today, and in solidarity speculates about more hopeful futures”, emphasize the organizers of the Pavilion.

UNESCO, very much engaged in promoting inclusive and quality education for Roma Children is hosting the Roma Pavilion in an attempt to enhance the diversity of cultural expressions.

All cultures and civilizations contribute to the enrichment of humankind. Cultural diversity is a strength. Its defence is an ethical imperative, inseparable from respect for human dignity. Recognition of this diversity can accelerate mutual understanding and crafting a common space around shared values. No one may invoke cultural diversity to infringe human rights or to limit their scope”, stressed Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, on the occasion of World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, 21 May 2011.

Fostering cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue is one of the main pillars of UNESCO’s action in South-East Europe. We are working in close collaboration with all the countries of the region to ensure that all voices are heard and all individuals included in international development, cultural and educational policies. This Pavilion and the aspirations of the Roma community confirm the necessity of ensuring that these principles are put into practice”, emphasizes Engelbert Ruoss, Director of the UNESCO Office in Venice.

Commissioner: Open Society Foundations (www.soros.org)

Organized by: BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht, the Netherlands (www.bak-utrecht.nl)

Artistic Director:

  • Maria Hlavajova, artistic director of BAK, Utrecht, the Netherlands


  • Daniel Baker, artist, theorist, and activist, London, United Kingdom of the Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  • Tom McDonough, art historian, Binghamton University, Binghamton (NY), United States of America
  • Suzana Milevska, theorist and curator, Skopje, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (initial idea and title Call the Witness)

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