The Future is Unwritten: Mona Chalabi, Years Stolen

By The United Nations

An Exhibition by The Future is Unwritten & UN75: Artists for Tomorrow

Years Stolen is the work of artist and data journalist Mona Chalabi. Her data-driven illustrations present complex systems of information for mass public consumption, promoting equality and human rights and amplifying critical health messaging in order to create greater global health awareness and influence solutions to global issues. Mona’s work transforms years stolen from people and communities due to unequal and unaware societal realities into opportunities for education and sustainable development. Her work during the pandemic included visualizations about COVID-19 and communicated critical health information.

The Truth in Numbers: Redefining Data Journalism Through Art | Whose Truth Is It Anyway? by Al JazeeraThe United Nations

The Truth in Numbers: Redefining Data Journalism Through Art | Whose Truth Is It Anyway?

Data journalist Mona Chalabi is rethinking the way people think about numbers. Follow Mona as she prepares her vast body of work for an art exhibition, breaking down her creative process and fresh vision for data journalism along the way.

Understanding COVID-19 and Critical Health Messaging (2020) by Mona ChalabiThe United Nations

Mona’s work during the COVID-19 pandemic merged illustration with data, presenting complex systems of critical health information for mass public consumption.

Understanding COVID-19 and Critical Health Messaging (2020) by Mona ChalabiThe United Nations

Understanding COVID-19 and Critical Health Messaging (2020) by Mona ChalabiThe United Nations

Understanding COVID-19 and Critical Health Messaging

Mona’s work during the COVID-19 pandemic merged illustration with data, presenting complex systems of critical health information for mass public consumption.

Social Distancing, Quarantine, Isolation (2020) by Mona ChalabiThe United Nations

Social Distancing, Quarantine, Isolation

Social Distancing minimizes contact with people outside of your immediate household in order to prevent you and others from being exposed to the contagious disease.

Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.

Isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick.

Source: Centers for Disease Control, 2020

Wear a Mask (2020) by Mona ChalabiThe United Nations

Wear a Mask

After working for a humanitarian organisation, Mona saw how important data was, but also how easily it could be used by people with their own specific agendas. Since then, her work has had one goal: to make sure as many people as possible can find and question the data they need to make informed decisions about their lives. Mona spends most of her time pouring over government-produced data sets, peer-reviewed studies, and official statistics.

Wear a Mask (2020) by Mona ChalabiThe United Nations

Protect People Who Are Vulnerable to Disease (2020) by Mona ChalabiThe United Nations

“Statistics are definitely subjective, and I think that part of the intention of merging [them with art] is to make that more explicit,” Mona says.

How New York is Changing (2020) by Mona ChalabiThe United Nations

Illustrated Data for Quality Education (2020) by Mona ChalabiThe United Nations

Illustrated Data for Quality Education

“[I am] constantly searching for a bit of light in this darkness. I find it comforting that the global vaccine effort in response to this pandemic is unprecedented in terms of scale and speed. That said, we really need international cooperation to make sure that when a vaccine is developed, it is manufactured in enough quantity and distributed fairly (including in low-income countries). Still though, I found these numbers a bit of a relief from all the case counts, I hope you do too.”
—Mona Chalabi, April 2020

COVID-19 Data Illustrated (2020) by Mona ChalabiThe United Nations

COVID-19 Data Illustrated: 2020

“We know that COVID-19 spreads faster in densely populated areas. This is a potential disaster for refugees. All of the advice that we’re being given - keep your distance from others, use soap and clean water, speak to a health provider if you show symptoms - it’s all near impossible if you live in a crowded refugee camp.”
—Mona Chalabi

America is Not America by Mona ChalabiThe United Nations

America is Not America

The Business of Immigration (2018) by Mona ChalabiThe United Nations

The Business of Immigration: 2018

Sources: USA Spending.gov - June 2018, US Department of Health and Human Services - May 2018

Deaths From Terrorism by Mona ChalabiThe United Nations

Deaths from Terrorism

Palestinian & Israeli Fatalities Per Month by Mona ChalabiThe United Nations

Palestinian and Israeli Fatalities Per Month

For Every Dollar a White Man Earns... (2019) by Mona ChalabiThe United Nations

For Every $1 a White Man Earns… 2019

Years with a Female Head of State (2018) by Mona ChalabiThe United Nations

Years with a Female Head of State: 2018

Mandatory Paid Vacation (2019) by Mona ChalabiThe United Nations

Mandatory Paid Vacation: 2019

Number of Mass Shootings by Race of Shooter: New York Times Coverage (2019) by Mona ChalabiThe United Nations

Number of Mass Shootings by Race of Shooter: New York Times Coverage: 2019

The Cost of Dying (2020) by Mona ChalabiThe United Nations

The Cost of Dying: 2020

Endangered Species on a Train (2018) by Mona ChalabiThe United Nations

Endangered Species on a Train: Mona Chalabi, 2018

Some species are so close to extinction, that every remaining member can fit on a New York subway car (if they squeeze).

Endangered Species on a Train (2018) by Mona ChalabiThe United Nations

Endangered Species on a Train (2018) by Mona ChalabiThe United Nations

Endangered Species on a Train (2018) by Mona ChalabiThe United Nations

Endangered Species on a Train (2018) by Mona ChalabiThe United Nations

Endangered Species on a Train (2018) by Mona ChalabiThe United Nations

Endangered Species on a Train (2018) by Mona ChalabiThe United Nations

Mona Chalabi by Mona ChalabiThe United Nations

Mona Chalabi is a New York-based data journalist and illustrator. Her work sheds light on otherwise faceless statistics, making her a popular commentator on contemporary politics. Taking statistical reports that highlight various global inequalities–such as the political crisis in Venezuela, or how minorities are more affected by air pollution in the United States–she visualizes data through poignant illustrations. Mona’s work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, New York Magazine, The Guardian and many more. She has written for radio and TV including Netflix (The Fix), BBC (Is Britain Racist?, Radio 4 and The Frankie Boyle show), NPR and National Geographic (Star Talk).

She is also an illustrator whose work has been commended by the Royal Statistical Society. Her work has been exhibited at several galleries including the Tate, The Design Museum and the House of Illustration. Lastly, she’s a producer and presenter. She’s one half of the team that created the Emmy-nominated video series Vagina Dispatches. And she presented and produced the audio experiment Strange Bird. Before she became a journalist, Mona worked with large data sets in jobs at the Bank of England, Transparency International and the International Organization for Migration. She studied International Relations in Paris and Arabic in Jordan. Mona was born and raised in London.

Credits: Story

Artists for Tomorrow is organised by The Future is Unwritten in collaboration with UN75 and curated by Stephen Stapleton and Danielle Sweet. The exhibition is presented in partnership with the Open Mind Project.

The Future is Unwritten (TFIU) is an initiative by CULTURUNNERS and the World Council of Peoples for the United Nations (WCPUN) Arts & Culture Advisory Council, launched in 2020 in collaboration with UN75. As 2020 marks the beginning of the UN’s Decade of Action, TFIU facilitates urgent cooperation between the international Arts and Culture sector and the United Nations in order to accelerate implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

www.thefutureisunwritten.org

Special thanks to Jahan Rafai and Lisa Laskaradis, UN75; Asya Gorbacheva and Saheer Umar, Production Department; and Kuba Rudziński, Art Department.

All images courtesy of the artist.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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