All We Need, an Exhibition on Human Needs, Resources and Fairness


Photo © Armand Turpel

In the obsolete Halle des Soufflantes (Blower Building), a 5000 m2 industrial site dating back to the early 20th century in Esch, a city in southern Luxembourg, we went on an unusual and astonishing journey through the exhibition All We Need. Almost as large as its younger sister ‘Tate Modern’ in London, the Halle des Soufflantes has been left in its original state, displaying machines and turbines from the iron-and-steel works. Apart from the unique setting, the exhibition carries strong messages about what our fundamental needs are. They say basic needs are the same everywhere but people are satisfying them in different ways in different places. The exhibition analyses how northern countries tent to achieve happiness through consumption of products and their affects on the rights of other people on the planet. It also illustrates that when saturation is reached, the quality of life goes down.

ALL WE NEED explores the world as a global market through the human efforts to dream, imagine and live a happy life. The exhibition shows, in particular through the fair trade example, alternatives in consumption and life styles. It provides reflections and proposals for action on the essential questions touching the future of mankind: which are our fundamental needs, and how can we satisfy them without endangering neither the survival of our planet, nor human rights?

When entering one of the two gigantic naves, you find yourself on a 3m high sandy beach, looking out on the sea (made from old plastic bottles), listening to a conservation between a fisherman and a tourist at a harbour on the west coast of Europe. It’s ‘The Anecdote Concerning the Lowering of Productivity’ by Heinrich Böll (1963) and the first of 10 stations of the exhibition, labelled Relax.

Other stations are classified under the theme of Survival, Choose, Love, Help, Belong, Understand, Create, Dream and Stand Up!, each one linked to one of the basic categories of needs identified by the Chilean economist Manfred Max-Neef.

Station 4 for example expresses Love but also raises awareness about issues such as working conditions of greenhouse workers who grow roses or the subject of blood diamonds.

Another station which really impressed us was the one about Understanding, using heaps of rice to make information visible (see photo). Each grain of rice represents one human being. Stan’s Café, a British performance group, ‘play with it and thus statistic connections about distribution, accessibility and possession of knowledge are made sensuously understandable and tangible’. Illustrated facts like for example the amount of people living on less than 1$ per day, of people who watched certain football games or who bought the first Beetle single were shown as rice piles while the Beatles themselves were represented with 4 rice grains.

The last station called Stand Up! offers tips (in the form of post cards) as to how to start making a change either in your private life, in civil society or politically. Check out the messages here. The show finishes with a big twisting tunnel slide which takes you right back on the ground to calculate your ecological footprint. What you are left with is a number of alternative ideas to lead a fairer and more ethical life and the awareness that we only have one Earth.

The exhibition, which forms part of Luxembourg and Greater Region European Captial of Culture 2007, is open until October 28th 2007 in Luxembourg, Halle Des Soufflantes, Esch-Belval. Thanks Neckel for the tip! For photos and videos about the exhibition, go to Flash007 ::All We Need

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