Mixed media, dimensions variable, 2011
The principle of the Enlightenment can be crystallized in Rousseau's doctrine "All men are created equal". It can also be called the beginning of social freedom and rights for individuals. Some western countries have adopted the ideas of the Enlightenment to their politics, but how have they have survived, changed and manifested from ancient regime to nowadays?
80 Comments on Freedom is an art project which studies origin, history, development and self-destruction of people's social rights and freedom. It is a collection of 80 objects and comments exploring the development of rights concerning different groups: citizens, blacks, women, Jews, children and gays.
We easily think that these groups have equal rights as citizens, but a closer look reveals that ratification of these rights has happened considerably late or is still in progress. For example, it was only in 1944 when women in France were given right to vote, Walt Disney still uses child labor and sweatshops in its toy production and homosexuality became legal in the United States nationwide 2003.
Capitalism has transformed the symbols and mottos of the Enlightenment to mass production of souvenirs and rhetoric phrases that fixes people's attention on consuming instead of promises unrealized. The principles of the Enlightenment have also been interpreted for justifying totalitarianism and terror. Beautiful ideas have turned to their travesty: the Age of Terror during the French Revolution, communism in the Soviet Union and the Islamic Revolution in Iran.
The motto "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity" and the principals they stand for were not formulated over night, but developed in stages. This process is still ongoing and enlarging in varying degrees throughout the world. The fundamental weakness in the Enlightenment's thinking is that it assumes that all problems have already been solved beforehand. Within this weakness also lies the seed of totalitarianism. The self-destruction of the Enlightenment occurred when their principles became marginalized through capitalistic aims, using their language as its advertising media.