Last week, we were thrilled to display Harbani’s Dicta poetry collection at a special showcase at the offices of Manatt, Phelps and Phillips, LLP in Century City, Los Angeles. Harbani and ICAAD Co-Founder Jaspreet attended the event to present the collection.
Dicta is a public arts project developed as part of our Artivism program, where we support emerging and underrepresented artists from around the world. By redacting sections of key Supreme Court cases in U.S. history, Harbani’s collection of poems highlight the gap between law and justice, and the impact that this disconnect has on marginalized communities.
“Dicta is a brilliant showcase of how written laws in the justice system do not always reflect the injustice of the world, and bridges art and activism in a way that connects people with something that can feel as intangible or impersonal as Supreme Court decisions,” said Sirena from Manatt.
“Providing access to justice for all, no matter a person’s skin color, gender identity, sexuality or immigration status, is part of Manatt’s DNA, and we’re extremely proud to partner with ICAAD to feature Harbani’s incredible work highlighting the legal inequities we too often see for historically underrepresented communities.”
We were so excited to share Harbani’s work through a beautiful visual arts display, and look forward to our continued collaboration with Manatt as we advance social justice through the arts.
Thank you for supporting our Artivism initiative – your generosity makes all of this possible! Watch this space as we continue to raise the profile of our resident artists and promote important issues of social justice.
2022 was a milestone year for our Artivism project, and there are exciting developments ahead as our engagement with the arts continues to grow.
An Update on Dicta
In August, we unveiled Artivist-in-Residence Harbani's poetry collection on Immigrant Rights as part of the Dicta public arts project. Following the launch, Harbani was featured in an online event co-hosted by ICAAD and the Center for Art Law.
The webinar explored the gap between law and justice, which is a central theme throughout Dicta. Harbani reflected: “Because the law is so complex, we often just assume that it’s correct, it’s right, it’s just – and it’s not. We’re trained to think of the law like this by society. But for a lot of marginalized groups in this country, the law has even been a system of oppression.”
We hope that Harbani’s work has resonated with you. We are preparing to launch two new collections on Indigenous Rights and the Right to Love this year, so stay tuned!
Introducing our New Artivists
In 2022, we released a call-out for a new cohort of Artivists-in-Residence to join the ICAAD team. We’re thrilled to announce that we have brought five artists on board: Namita (India), Dilpreet (India), Katja (New Zealand), Queen (U.S.), and Vishavjit (U.S.).
While they work across different mediums and themes, they all share a commitment to supporting human rights advocacy through the arts. You can find out more about them here.
As part of our partnership, the cohort participated in a pilot program of our virtual How to Be An Effective Human Rights Advocate course – which outlines tools, resources and strategies that can be used to maximize the impact of their projects.
We are thrilled to begin sharing the incredible work being created by these Artivists this year, through virtual exhibitions and public engagements. Watch this space!
We are excited to announce the release of a new series of Dicta Legal Poetry, available to view in our immersive virtual exhibit. The Immigrant Rights series highlights critical and shameful features of U.S. immigration – from the Chinese Exclusion Act to the ‘Muslim Ban.’
Whether through laws barring certain nationalities from entering the country, the imprisonment of Japanese-Americans in internment camps, or the passage of policies to disallow asylum seekers from entering the country, the message across each poem is clear: immigration in the U.S. has never been about inclusion and acceptance.
We asked Harbani what this collection means to her. She said: “We like to fantasize about how America is a country of immigrants, but if you look at the history of the United States, there have always been marginalized groups of immigrants which have been ‘othered’ and excluded from this country.
This collection really goes to show how complex and broken our immigration system is – and just how often laws and policies that are harmful to marginalized immigrant communities continue to be justified in law. In thinking about this, I hope we can reimagine what a just and equitable immigration system should look like.”
The Immigrant Rights series joins existing series on Women’s Rights and the Rights of Black People, available in the virtual gallery. Two more collections, on the Right to Love and Indigenous Rights, are forthcoming.
Dicta is a product of ICAAD’s Artivist-in-Residence program, which stems from our belief that the arts play a vital role in driving social justice at local, regional and global levels.
“When combined, art and activism can play a powerful role in connecting people across borders and languages. Supporting the arts has been vital to our human rights work around the world; it helps us tap into difficult emotions, encourages empathy, and unleashes creative thinking,” said Jaspreet Singh, ICAAD Co-Founder and Advocacy Strategist.
Jaspreet continued, “Harbani’s incisive critique of the gap between law and justice in the U.S. is urgently needed – following the Supreme Court’s devastating decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, and while new immigration policy easing deportations remains frozen. Dicta is a powerful way for us to reflect on these developments as we work towards a more equitable future.”
Dicta is supported by Clifford Chance; Manatt, Phelps & Phillips; and Graymatters; and the virtual exhibit has been developed in partnership with digital creative agency, y’all.
We’re excited to announce that the newest Dicta poetry series from Harbani Ahuja will be unveiled soon!
Right now, the immersive virtual exhibit hosts two collections of 20 poems on Women’s Rights and the Rights of Black People. By creating found poetry from court decisions, Harbani illuminates key human rights moments in United States history.
This includes the struggle over abortion rights, evidenced in Harbani’s poem created from Roe v Wade. As the repeal of Roe v Wade may take place this summer, instantly making abortion illegal in 22 US States, the piece is all too poignant. Read the poem here.
We are now busy preparing to launch the next virtual collection on Immigrant Rights. These poems will be drawn from major Supreme Court cases on immigration and citizenship, addressing themes including race, internment, religious freedom, and naturalization. The cross-cutting nature of structural discrimination is something that is highlighted in each of Harbani’s poems.
This project would not be possible without our partnership with digital creative agency y’all and sponsorships from international law firm Clifford Chance, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips; and Graymatters. And it would not be possible without your help and feedback.
We’d love to hear what you think of the exhibit: join the conversation using the hashtag #DictaLegalPoetry. And stay tuned for the next series launch!
The Dicta virtual exhibit is live, and we can’t wait for you to experience it! You can visit the exhibit here.
As you know, Dicta is Harbani Ahuja’s series of found poetry in court decisions that illuminate broader social justice themes from the black letter text. There are 20 poems from the 40-poem series up in the exhibit. The two themes covered so far are the Rights of Black People and Women’s Rights. The Rights of Black People series was published in the ABA Journal earlier this year. This year, additional poems will be added to the exhibit on the themes of the Right to Love, Immigration, and Indigenous Rights.
We have been amazed by the responses so far, and we would love to hear what you think. The exhibit has garnered sponsorships from international law firm Clifford Chance; Manatt, Phelps & Phillips; and Graymatters; and the virtual exhibit has been developed in partnership with digital creative agency, y’all.
In addition to the virtual exhibit, sixteen poems are currently on display in Clifford Chance’s New York office as part of the firm’s ongoing commitment to supporting human rights efforts, arts, and the community. Clifford Chance also produced a podcast with Partner Celeste Koeleveld and ICAAD Advisor Zuleka Henderson on the impact of the Dicta series and "Artivism" as a means of driving social justice which can be viewed here. Zuleka is a licensed social worker, a cultural healing and anti-racism consultant, and the Founding Director of the Center for Black WellBeing, which serves as a wellness destination that houses several healing lanes specifically designed for Black people.
Don’t miss the exhibit, and be sure to share it with your friends and family!
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