Respected activist Viraj Mendis, video and music artists Tagné+Kooj and playwright-poet Louise Wallwein MBE are on the bill at a unique event to support migration justice on 25th September 2019 in Manchester.
Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit (GMIAU) mark their 30th birthday with this event looking back over their 30 years of delivering Justice, Rights and Resistance. Among the performances, speakers and discussion the event will feature a special performance of ‘Declaration’ by Kooj Chuhan and Tagné Tebu. Combining live music and projected visuals, they have collaborated with GMIAU and These Walls Must Fall to create this emotive work (more info below). The event will look back on successful campaigns against racist immigration policies and discuss future challenges in the continued fight for immigration justice.
India, Africa, the West Indies, colonialism and recruitment, impacts of war and our ongoing culture of war explored by an exhibition of artistic and educational work. Includes ‘The Poppy Retake’, video art by Kooj Chuhan weaving together colonial narratives, spirits from the dead and video war games. We confront our connections with wars as recruitment and their impacts on people who had been colonised. The documentary exhibition ‘From the Shadows of War and Empire’ by Southern Voices explores how European powers brought colonies into World War I, took resources from these countries and took the war to ‘fronts’ outside Europe.
‘World War I’s Hidden Voices’ Workshop
Saturday 27th April, 2pm-4pm at M-Shed. Free, no booking required.
Two critical presentations about the role of India, East Africa, Nigeria and the West Indies in WWI, including colonialism and recruitment, the impacts of war and our ongoing culture of war with discussion.
Cultural Representations of World War One and other wars: how colonies are kept invisible by Kooj Chuhan
Colonial realities of WWI: uncovering the involvement and experience of peoples from British colonies by Dipali Das and Ruth Tait
The Great War of 1914 -1918 is usually seen as a ‘European War’. Though the war was fought between European countries, the fact they involved their colonies is mostly invisible. Recognition is usually framed as a praiseworthy ‘contribution’ rather than mass enforcement. This workshop will expose the full extent of involvement from the British colonies in World War I, the impact the war had on those regions, its legacy for those countries and cultural representation of the war
Artist’s talk + Guided tour of The Poppy Retake at M-Shed
At 1pm on Sunday 28th April Kooj Chuhan will walk and talk through the various work in The Poppy Retake and From The Shadows Of War And Empire as a ‘guided tour’. He will discuss the background context, how the project came about, and some ways in which this kind of work could develop further.
Written by Hafsah Aneelah Bashir, directed by Nikki Mailer, with visual projections and sound design by Kooj Chuhan/Metaceptive Media. Produced by Outside The Frame Arts. Performed as a part of the PUSH festival at HOME Manchester on 18th and 19th January 2019 in Stage 1.
The following by James Varney from his review in Exeunt magazine describes what the play is about:
Cuts of the Cloth is science fiction. In an unspecified future, a Muslim woman is kept in a human museum, as a resource in a governmental programme for warning against the dangers of ‘Islamisation’, radicalism, ‘Islamist ideology’ and other vague but threatening-sounding words used to pigeonhole British Muslims. Hafsah Aneela Bashir plays a woman reduced to an exhibit number. In whatever ‘present’ we inhabit together, she is placid, as if wiped clean – calmly saluting peace like an automaton. As she recounts her stories, ostensibly of warning, we see the passionate, human woman she used to be. (…) And the sci-fi framing does what all good science fiction does; the real story is in the past, which is to say our present. Bashir’s protagonist is detained and searched at border control, her students are investigated for having conversations which are too political.”
Feedback and reviews about the play and also the strong visuals has been really good. List of reviews here:
Before talking about Transnational Justice let’s first remember the obvious, simply that we are ruled by laws. So the major kinds of injustice in the world must need to be addressed in partnership with progressive sectors of legal theory and practice. This is something which us creative activists do too little of.
Last month I was presenting the work I do at a very worthwhile conference on political and legal justice connecting with environment, economy, health, migration, equality, activism and arts, the Transnational Law Summit at King’s College London. More info about this is at www.transnationallawsummit.org .
Keynote presenters included Nobel peace prize laureate Shirin Ebadi and Dexter Dias QC. Panel presenters like myself included the well known ecoliteracy guru Fritjof Capra, Nick Flynn from Avaaz and Jannie Staffansson from the Saami Council. Well funded (and equally well dressed) the conference had the air of being high profile with the strong intention of supporting justice for the future.
Transnational Justice – game-change for climate justice?
I’m not going to attempt a full review or critique of the conference, but the session I found really compelling was titled ‘Climate Change and Court Rooms’. Was this the beginning of major shifts in reparatory forces to gain justice for damage to communities and to counter climate change? Continue reading →
A one-day symposium about socially engaged arts and cultural democracy titled Uncommon Ground crumbled upon the slightest scrutiny, and left a good number of the audience disappointed and let down to say the least. In advance of the event which took place at The Lowry on 22nd March 2018, little information apart from two underwhelming personal blog posts were given as lead-in material. The morning session involved four presentations, and NO discussion or Q&A of any kind. Tweets were welcomed to be responded to later – I wondered if they have replaced real nuanced discussion?
It’s the Economy, stupid!
By mid-afternoon it was clear that nobody was going to bring up the economics of inequality or within the arts, nor how arts can have an impact on such structural inequality. An embarrassing omission given that there is a common understanding of inequality being first and foremostly related to economic and political power. In most symposia or conferences, a subject is usually given some broad sweep overview of the history and key pieces of work and debates that have developed over the decades, plus some critical and fresh perspectives on the gaps – those areas which still need addressing. This kind of basic context was completely absent at Uncommon Ground, an insulting slap in the face for those who have tirelessly worked in the field and against the grain for those decades.
India, Africa, the West Indies, colonialism and recruitment, the impacts of war and our ongoing culture of war explored in a free afternoon conference.
Saturday 10th February 2018, 1pm – 4.30pm
at Manchester Central Library (First Floor), St Peter’s Square, Manchester M2 5PD, UK Tel. +44 (0)161 234 1983
This mini conference is a part of the ‘WWI’s Hidden Voices’ exhibition offering an afternoon of presentations and discussions offering the most critical perspectives on World War I in any current public forum. The speakers will expose the full extent of involvement from the British colonies in World War I, the impact the war had on those regions, its legacy for those countries and cultural representation of the war. Sessions include:
The West Indies join the War by Washington Alcott Women’s Perspectives from East Africa by Susan Chieni Cookson Cultural Representation of World War One and other wars by Kooj Chuhan Teaching Hidden Histories in Schools by Dipali Das Community Research from a ‘Southern’ Perspective by Southern Voices Continue reading →
‘The Poppy Retake’ video art installation by Kuljit ‘Kooj’ Chuhan is the focus for a new short film about the upcoming Manchester World War I exhibition titled World War I’s Hidden Voices which launches on Weds 6th December 2017 at the amazing Central Library building in the heart of Manchester.
‘The Poppy Retake’ is partnering with the extensive ‘From The Shadows Of War And Empire’ set of educational graphic panels by Southern Voices to create the exhibition, which runs from 7th December 2017 – 24th February 2018. Key details below: Continue reading →
At the exhibition launch of World War I’s Hidden Voices (6th December – CLICK HERE TO REGISTER) the Manchester actress Rani Moorthy will perform a dramatised reading of a powerful poem reflecting on the effects of the First World War from an Indian and colonised country perspective. She will be accompanied by musician Jaydev Mistry and also VJ projections by Kuljit ‘Kooj’ Chuhan. The poem is by Sarojini Naidu and is titled The Gift Of India, written in 1915 while the war was ravaging.
The exhibition features The Poppy Retake art installation by Kooj Chuhan, the launch event will be on Weds 6th December from 5.30pm and the performance and speakers begin at 6.30pm. More information at www.metaceptive.net/poppy-retake . The event is free but registration is strongly advised at www.hiddenvoicesww1.eventbrite.co.uk . #poppyretake
About Sarojini Naidu
Sarojini Naidu was a distinguished poet, renowned freedom fighter and one of the great orators of her time. She was famously known as Bharatiya Kokila (The Nightingale of India) and was a prolific poet with over three books of published poems, highly praised by Rabindranath Tagore. Sarojini Naidu was the first Indian woman to become the President of the Indian National Congress and the first woman to become the governor of a state in India. Continue reading →
India, Africa, the West Indies, colonialism and recruitment, impacts of war and our ongoing culture of war explored in two parallel exhibitions under the title World War One’s Hidden Voices
The Poppy Retake (v3) by Kooj Chuhan // From the Shadows of War and Empire by Southern Voices // #poppyretake
On show 7th December 2017 – 24th February 2018 at Manchester Central Library (First Floor), St Peter’s Square, Manchester M2 5PD, UK // Opening times 9am-8pm Mon-Thurs and 9am-5pm Fri-Sat (Sunday closed) Tel. +44 (0)161 234 1983
OPENING NIGHT – 6th December 2017 5.30pm-7.30pm including speakers Ahmed El-Hassan (Southern Voices) and Colette Williams (Mbari), plus live performance from Jaydev Mistry (music), Rani Moorthy (dramatised readings) and Kuljit ‘Kooj’ Chuhan (VJ projection) // First Floor exhibition from 5.30pm, then speakers and performance from 6.30pm on Ground Floor Booking for this free event is strongly advised: www.hiddenvoicesww1.eventbrite.co.uk
MINI-CONFERENCE – 10th February 2018
thought-provoking talks, workshops, films and discussion for World War One’s Hidden Voices– full details to be announced www.metaceptive.net/poppy-retake
– – – – – – – –
THE POPPY RETAKE (v3)
…colonial narratives, spirits from the dead and video war games…
video art installation by Kooj (Kuljit Singh Chuhan) – new version
Modern war propaganda began with World War I which obscured its pointlessness and deep colonial connections, while pretending to be the ‘war to end all wars’. This artwork explores coercion into war, involving an African woman working for a war-themed park. She finds herself caught between colonial narratives, spirits from the dead and video war games.
Since the end of WWI we have seen numerous wars with the majority in regions once colonised. Modern video gaming is now the epitome of obscuring both the horror and the colonial roots of much conflict. The Poppy Retake suggests our multiple connections with wars as forms of cultural recruitment but which impact mostly on people from ex-colonies. It extends the perspectives developed in the documentary exhibition ‘From The Shadows Of War and Empire’. Continue reading →
The Community Learning Festival 25th-27th July 2017 at MMU Brooks Building (Birley Fields Campus) is set up to celebrate the diversity of learning happening in the local area https://birleycommunityfestival.wordpress.com/ . It includes a lot of consciousness-raising activities and possibilities for activism towards progressive goals. The Poppy Retake installation is set up there in a compact version, supporting the talk by Southern Voices about Colonialism and WWI, and also Kooj (me) will be delivering a session about using video for community activism with references to The Poppy Retake installation.
The installation looks strong, here is how it looked yesterday (some components might be added today – trying to keep playful with trying things out here):