Human Rights: The Collision of Art and Technology

Roberta Orlando

It started with a marker pen and some cellophane in 2011. I wrote all the common terms defining sexual orientation and gender identity on my body, later removing them all by tearing them off into a single crumpled piece. Months later, I started to fall down for hours, following the sound of negative words used against LGBTI people. Then, I filmed parts of moving bodies without any recognition of gender. I continued to develop works using the medium of video, photography, performance and sound. However, all these works started to be part of a bigger project that I named ‘Equality’. The collection gathered performances, videos and photographs related to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In order to have a clear idea of what it means to be discriminated because of sex or gender, I began to travel throughout Europe and meet various communities and experience their realities. My artistic practice has always been interested in the intersections of technology and visual arts, but I began to consider how these intersections could be used to work in defence of human rights. As I began to meet more people, and listened to their stories, I began to carve out a focal point on equality, justice and education. Throughout my research, I began to ask: what defined a sexual orientation as legal? Which characteristics should define male and female gender? Why are two people holding hands perceived as more dangerous than two people holding weapons? Respecting the existence and safety of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people should be an intrinsic part of human rights. Nevertheless, 78 countries in the world still apply severe penalties, even the death penalty, against these communities. I grew up with the image of a falling wall, and I have continued to be interested in finding new ways for tearing down the walls of our societies. I cite my artistic influences as individuals like Sophie Calle, Kara Walker, Shirin Neshat, Lorna Simpson, Joseph Beuys and Bas Jan Ader, however, most of the formative inspirations I have had tend to come from common people and their stories, friends and paths which joined mine and vice versa.

Roberta Orlando is an artist who works in defence of international human rights, raising awareness on the main LGBTI images worldwide through artistic research that considers discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Recent exhibitions include; KUMU Art Museum (Tallinn, EE), Centre for Sex and Culture (San Francisco, US), Institute for Women and Art (Piscataway, US), Deutsches Historisches Museum (Berlin, DE), Kulturhuset Stadsteatern (Stockholm, S), MACRO Testaccio (Rome, IT), LaMaMa Theatre (New York, US), ]Performance Space[ (London, UK), Maison des Arts du Grütli (Geneva, CH) and Labyrinth Gallery (Lublin, PL).


Self-Portrait, Photography, Germany, 2013


Every Simple Day, Photo Series // Selection, Italy, 2014


Pure Set // Selection, Finland, 2014


Pure Set // Selection, Latvia, 2014


A Sound Used In Speech, performance, Germany, 2013


A Sound Used In Speech, performance, Italy, 2013

All images courtesy of Roberta Orlando