we have a dream

21 May–1 October 2017

Albert Wiking photo | Oscar Edlund interview | Daniel Rydén text

Having a dream is a powerful driving force. The exhibition We Have a Dream aims to inspire everyone to dare to dream and to live out their dreams, whether it is small or big, close in time or far ahead later on in life. To dream gives strength and courage. The exhibition presents a selection of 114 portraits of people from around the world whose stories convey the message that for those who dare to dream and want to act nothing is impossible.

This is an important document of its time, showing many of the world’s most influential people, who act on the global stage – side by side with young people and everyday heroes who genuinely want to influence and change their surroundings. The common denominator is that they take a stand for their values, go against the tide and dream of creating change.

“The people in this project are proof that change is possible. With their portraits, their stories and their dreams of a more charitable world they are united on equal terms. From Lund in southern Sweden to the 38th floor of the United Nations building in New York. From Kofi Annan to Ida Engblom in Karlstad. We Have a Dream is not a story about saints or superheroes. Nobody is infallible and they have all started with a dream,” photographer Albert Wiking explains.

Initiated a decade ago by Albert Wiking and Oscar Edlund, who interviewed and recruited the participants, the project We Have a Dream is about courage, humanity and human rights. Fundamentally a photo project, it reaches far beyond portraiture and commercial frameworks and was born out of their desire to do their bit for a more charitable world. Edlund's interviews were transformed into text by Daniel Rydén.

Complex and countless networks and filters of contacts, agents, managers and other gatekeepers have both aided and obstructed their endless attempts to reach Nobel laureates, royalty, activists, artists, entrepreneurs and everyday heroes by e-mail. Once the question reached the right person it sometimes took years to arrive at an agreement and organise a meeting.

Albert Wiking’s photographs are moving, inspiring and provocative. With small means he succeeds in capturing the essence of a person. The images of those portrayed demonstrate seriousness combined with a glimpse of playfulness.

“Both ourselves and the participants are convinced that art has a real potential to influence – one person at a time. Our dream is that each viewer will pass on the stories and be inspired to take action – actions that have the power to change. It is the viewer who passes on ideas that have the power to change. I think the fact that we didn’t have an organisation, a country or a prime minister behind us was an advantage. This was something that fascinated the participants,” Albert Wiking speculates.

Since 2002 they have travelled to various places to take portraits and collect inspirational stories, which have resulted in an exhibition, a book and educational materials. During the exhibition visitors will have the opportunity to share their own dreams.

As much an exhibition about people and their stories, We Have a Dream is also about the new dreams that are born every day. Albert Wiking and Oscar Edlund have spent many years collecting portraits of people whose words and actions have left a lasting impression. Peace activists, writers, pop artists, politicians, business leaders and grassroots activists have all raised their voices in order to make a difference. However, change is a collective process.

One of the first people who agreed to participate in We Have a Dream was the Swedish minister for foreign affairs, Anna Lindh. We all know what happened. Not long after the portrait was taken she was assassinated, but her legacy lives on. So it is for dreamers who fight to act and to make their vision a reality; if you have something important to impart and an opportunity to inspire, you exist for more people than yourself.

Among the people portrayed we find the members of the punk band Pussy Riot, Sir Bob Geldof, the musician who started BandAid, Samuel Opio who fights for LGBT rights, the Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei who fights for democracy, the world’s youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner, Malala Yousafzai, who is fighting for girls’ right to education, the human rights judge Navi Pillay and others such as Annie Lennox, Quincy Jones, Timbuktu, Ruby Rose, Anders Kompass, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Zara Larsson.