Having a dream is a powerful driving force. We want the exhibition We Have a Dream 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. We present 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 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. 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.

We sought Malala Yousafzai and Jane Goodall for four to five years. Getting to meet many of these people is like gaining access to the Pentagon. The common denominator for all the participants is that their story touched us,” says Oscar Edlund.

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. With this exhibition we want to inspire everyone to formulate and pursue their dream. Together we can try to build a better world,” says Pauline Benthede, Exhibition Manager at Fotografiska.

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.

Zara, who is very adept at inspiring and influencing others, describes her dream.

“I am primarily concerned about girls. I would, of course, like to see girls receive as much respect as boys in today’s society, to be able to decide over their own bodies, their choices and their own lives. It is a fundamental right that does not exist in many parts of the world.”

The majority of the participants were photographed in connection with the interviews which were often conducted under considerable time restrictions. Sometimes the meetings lasted no more than a few minutes.

“I always start with a question about childhood, this puts everyone in the same situation, whether you are Richard Branson or Patti Smith,” says Oscar Edlund who conducted the interviews.

Because we all have in common that we were born and that we are going to die – in between, we can dream…

Footnote: We Have a Dream will be published as a book and will tour as an exhibition, opening at Fotografiska in Stockholm on 8 December 2016. The book includes educational material for young people.

Daniel Rydén has written the texts in the book.

Henrik Lörstad has created the sound installation in the exhibition.

Briefly about Albert and Oscar:

Albert Wiking (b. 1956). Photographer, designer and initiator for We Have a Dream. Wiking has held numerous exhibitions and published several books and is perhaps best known for the travelling exhibition and the book Eldvatten [Fire Water] (1998), on famous and unknown people’s relationship to alcohol which toured for several years to 22 cities and was seen by over a million visitors. He and Oscar Edlund are the co-initiators of We Have a Dream. Albert Wiking and Oscar Edlund have previously produced the book and the exhibition Rött – Mellan kärlek och revolution [Red – Between Love and Revolution], (2001).

Oscar Edlund (b.1979). Co-initiator of We Have a Dream. Responsible for the interviews and recruiting the participants in the project. Edlund is an organiser and event coordinator with commissions from, among others, Swedish Television, H&M, H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf’s Foundation for Young Leadership and the Nobel Foundation.