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):
A year ago today, a dear friend of mine died of cancer. She was old but not that old and youthful in spirit, her name was Jaya Graves who I will miss dearly. Her death at the time was overshadowed by the far more devastating loss of my own son just 10 days earlier, and its taken me until now to put this all too brief post up.
I first met Jaya in the late 90’s as part of some activities supporting refugees and people seeking asylum in Manchester. She later became involved on the management committee and then as occasional collaborator with the artists’ collective that I had founded, Virtual Migrants www.virtualmigrants.net and we used to meet at the Southern Voices office at St Peters House Church and Chaplaincy.
In 2003, while she was a member of the Manchester Museum Community Advisory Panel, I was commissioned to create a series of video works for permanent installation in the at that time new galleries being built, and one of the videos was of Jaya. Here it is along with another two from the same series of videos.
The more recent work on environment, climate change, race and migration was co-developed with her vital contribution, meeting at her house. It was Jaya who suggested we call the project The Centre Cannot Hold, from the WB Yeats poem. I valued our reflective, analytical, critical and good humoured chats enormously, as well as the ideas and knowledge she introduced me to. We were good friends even though we only met occasionally, and I miss her. I count her as an inspiration and influence on my work and my humanity. May she be carrying on in the way she always did so well wherever she may be.
PS: Regarding my dear son Naseeb, mentioned earlier, I have not felt the need to put a post about him on this website since there is a memorial website dedicated to him already at www.naseebchuhan.wordpress.com .
A new video art installation The Poppy Retake at Z-arts Centre launched on 18th April to a diverse and appreciative crowd. The main projection screen follows the story of an African woman (performed by Tracey Zengeni) working in a woodland park devoted to the theme of war. Subtle clues suggest she herself has a refugee background.
Objects from World War I draw her into an alternate reality of video games which she can’t control and which mix between playable wars and real wars. Through a magical mirror, she meets her own spiritual alter-ego who tells her to escape before it’s too late, and also an elderly Sikh spirit who tells of the realities of World War 1 from an Indian perspective. More about The Poppy Retake at www.metaceptive.net/poppy-retake .
A powerful accompanying set of graphic documentary panels were exhibited by Southern Voices, titled ‘From The Shadows Of War And Empire’. They narrated the story of the contribution by and impact on the colonies from World War I. More about this project at www.southernvoices.org/sv-proj .
There were thoughtful speeches by Southern Voices’ WWI project coordinator Kirit Patel, community researcher Washington Alcott, artist Kooj Chuhan, and a tribute to the late Deyika Nzeribe by his brother Ikem. There was poetry performed by Afshan D’souza-Lodhi, and finally a fantastic musical set by Serge Tebu (Keyboard) and Emmanuela Yogolelo (vocal) along with backing on bass and drums by Joe and Ephraim.
Words and poetry within The Poppy Retake at Z-arts
During the dramatic video sequence within The Poppy Retake at Z-arts Centre there are the words of soldiers from India and the West Indies during World War I taken from letters they had written, which are a part of drawing the main character into the war loop. At the launch event, one particularly strong and relevant poem which was read by Afshan is as follows:
The Gift of India by Sarojini Naidu (India, 1915)
Is there ought you need that my hands withhold, Rich gifts of raiment or grain or gold? Lo! I have flung to the East and the West Priceless treasures torn from my breast, And yielded the sons of my stricken womb To the drum-beats of the duty, the sabers of doom. Gathered like pearls in their alien graves Silent they sleep by the Persian waves, Scattered like shells on Egyptian sands, They lie with pale brows and brave, broken hands, they are strewn like blossoms mown down by chance On the blood-brown meadows of Flanders and France Can ye measure the grief of the tears I weep Or compass the woe of the watch I keep? Or the pride that thrills thro’ my heart’s despair And the hope that comforts the anguish of prayer? And the far sad glorious vision I see Of the torn red banners of victory? when the terror and the tumult of hate shall cease And life be refashioned on anvils of peace, And your love shall offer memorial thanks To the comrades who fought on the dauntless ranks, And you honour the deeds of the dauntless ones, Remember the blood of my martyred sons!
New version to be developed
This is the first showing of The Poppy retake at Z-arts, it will be expanded and developed further into a new version to be shown at Manchester’s Central Library for three months from December 2017 to February 2018.
The evening was dedicated firstly to Deyika Nzeribe and Jaya Graves, both of whom were members of Southern Voices and who died within the last year www.southernvoices.org . Secondly Kooj dedicated The Poppy Retake at Z-arts to his son Naseeb Chuhan whose conscious attitude and cultural interests influenced the video art installation, who used to work at Z-arts, and who also died within the last year www.naseebchuhan.wordpress.com . A big thanks to all who were involved and helped out, a list of credits is at www.metaceptive.net/poppy-retake .
For occasional updates please Subscribe to our newsletter or ‘FOLLOW’ this blog. For more frequent news, why not like our Facebook page? (All links on the side of this page if you are on a desktop, or below if you are on mobile).
THE POPPY RETAKE is a new video art installation by Kooj Chuhan with an alternative take on World War I by connecting colonialism and computer games with a systematic war culture. The installation references the involvement of and impact on European Colonies by World War I and was supported by the experiences of the actor, Tracey Zengeni, herself having sought refuge in the UK. Its going to premiere at the fantastic Z-arts centre gallery on Tues 18th April from 6pm, and will be on show there for nearly two weeks. There are full details at www.metaceptive.net/poppy-retake including of the opening preview night. Here is an introductory trailer for the work:
Essential details for The Poppy Retake:
at Z-Arts Gallery, 19-28 April 2017
335 Stretford Road Manchester M15 5ZA 0161 226 1912
Open daily 9am-9pm except Saturday 9am-5pm and Sunday closed
PREVIEW: Tues 18th April 6pm
Speakers: Susan Chieni, Kirit Patel and others / Poetry: Afshan D’Souza-Lodhi / Music: Serge Tebu & Emmanuela Yogolelo
FREE ENTRY but booking advised: www.poppyretakeshadows.eventbrite.co.uk
Will wars ever end? Was World War One’s ‘Lest We Forget’ a deluded slogan by Europeans who endured enormous suffering yet ignored even greater calamities for their colonies? Is war in fact the default future human addiction as global economics, culture and inequality spell more conflict forever?
The Poppy Retake is a new piece of video installation art by Kooj Chuhan which poses these questions. The artist Kooj uses dramatic sequences of imagery that mix aspects of culture today, recent conflicts and refugees with world war one and the historical realities for people in previous colonies such as India, East Africa, The West Indies and Nigeria.
Who knows that the first and last shots of World War One were fired not in Europe, but in Africa? Or that 1.5 million soldiers from India fought for the British? The installation will be exhibited together with an extensive series of documentary history panels created by Southern Voices, titled ‘From the Shadows of War and Empire’. In all this will present a unique exhibition taking an African and South Asian perspective on World War One and the role of the British colonies within it.
Art that can re-interpret, re-situate, connecting wars, colonialism, games
Kooj hopes to get people to shift from the usual and massive stereotypical icons of World War I and understand its part in the ongoing process that has got us where we are today, and how young people are influenced and co-opted into cynical acceptance of conflict yet remain oblivious to colonial histories and geopolitical power interests. This war was fuelled by rivalry based much on competing colonial portfolios between European countries, and colonies were enormously affected in critical ways during and after the war.
However, Kooj is quick to point out that, “As an artist my job is not to stuff a load of history down people’s throats, but to draw out a human experience in simple and metaphoric ways that bring people closer to the underlying meanings and hidden agendas of the war.”
The Poppy Retake installation depicts a never ending loop which we can’t get out of, played out through a current character with a refugee connection from today. The work is inspired by resistance to wars and colonialism in history especially the WWI period focusing on narratives that have often been suppressed such as schoolteacher John MacLean from Scotland who was instrumental in the Clyde revolts during and after WWI, or Indian revolutionaries such as Kartar Singh Sarabha, or the many women from East Africa whose families died from a famine made worse by European demands for resources to support the war. Within the installation we encounter hints of these people and events but we remain stuck in a continual loop of wars, games and colonialism which appears to have no end, driven along by a background tempo and video loops which play with ideas of nationalism, patriotism, dissidence, loss and war game videos.
Historical Documentary Exhibition ‘From The Shadows Of War And Empire’ by Southern Voices
Alongside The Poppy Retake installation will be a set of educational panels titled ‘From The Shadows Of War And Empire’ created by Southern Voices about the issues around World War 1 from the perspective of the colonies.
2014 marked 100 years since the start of the World War One (WW1). In a very real way, this was the first global conflict, with war between the European Empires drawing in well over 100 countries.
This project, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, examines the involvement of the British colonies (India, West Indies, Nigeria and East Africa) in WW1 and the impact the war had on those countries. Southern Voices look at European imperialism, the devastating losses on the colonies’ own ‘home fronts’ and subsequent strengthening movements for self-rule and independence.
The impact and views of the people in the ‘colonised countries’ are either neglected or absent in commemorative events. This exhibition provides a more balanced account of this global war than is commonly available or known and adds to the connecting of wars, colonialism and wider contexts.
Buy This v3 – video installation art by Kooj Chuhan
The event is the culmination and conclusion of two innovative, multidisciplinary five-year research programmes, generously supported by the Leverhulme Trust. It will showcase the work of these two programmes and celebrate their achievements.
It will have an academic focus with four themed panels: ‘Home and Away’; ‘Lost and Found’; ‘Coming and Going’ and ‘Remembering and Forgetting’. Both programmes will present research in the panel discussions and the audience will have the opportunity to engage in debate around these themes.
Alongside the event itself, there will be extensive displays of work from each programme in the form of project posters, photo-essays and publication displays; artist’s pieces from the Doh Mix Meh Up exhibit; and an exhibition by the Royal Geographical Society that will display a selection of their extensive archival holdings.
Buy This v3
Refugees and ‘third-world’ migrants bring with them intimate and undervalued knowledge about climate change. ‘Buy This’ juxtaposes such voices on one screen against another, over-saturated with colliding imagery of wars, colonial struggles, environmental upheaval and UK racism, overlaid with scrolling news messages.
Poster Film Collective progressive media in the 80s
Whose World Is The World by Poster Film Collective progressive media in the 80s. Any parallels now? http://poster-collective.org.uk/whoseworld/index.php
These posters were often in the youth clubs and community centres that we worked in, running creative, campaigning and discussion activities focused on anti-racist and suppressed historical ideas and knowledge. They gave a continuity in the environment that the people who used the building could continue to reflect on after the activities and workshops, in an immediate and visual way without too much text clutter. I really think we need this kind of stuff again in our physical environment, maybe the digital world makes us forget these possibilities?
Migrant crisis: tackle the cause and not the symptom?
ADDRESSING THE CAUSES OF FORCED MIGRATION
Given the strength of evidence on the underlying causes of asylum flows, policy efforts should focus on the root causes of forced migration (conflict and human rights abuse) rather than policies intended to prevent and deter asylum seekers from arriving. This will require joined-up policy making at the UK and EU level in relation to the promotion of human rights, humanitarian action, development aid and trade and investment (Castles et al. 2003).
Download the full report here: http://www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/assets/0001/5702/rcchance.pdf
A detailed read but it makes sense – unlike most of the media reports.
Exhibition by Shahidul Alam on indigenous women’s rights
Posters in the meeting room where Kalpana and her comrades used to gather. Khagrachori. CHT. Photo: Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World
Recent exhibition about Kalpana Chakma indigenous women’s rights activist in Bangladesh, by Shahidul Alam. Excellent!
Extract: “You had reminded us that a nation that fought oppression, could not rule by oppressing. That a people that fought for a language, could not triumph by suppressing another’s. That the martyrs who died, so we might be free, did not shed their blood, so we could become tyrants. That we who overcame the bullets and bayonets of soldiers, must never again be ruled through the barrel of a gun.” http://www.shahidulnews.com/kalpanas-warriors – again, an example of artistic work towards cultural consciousness.
Amnesty International on Israel’s civilian targets: New forensic 3d modelling by Amnesty International shows Israel’s targeting of civilians in Gaza; tools for truth are always needed and this is a well put together media clip – good work.
Black Women Matter:
100 years ago, Thomas Rutling was buried in Harrogate – he spoke out against the brutalities still endured by Africans in America after slavery. 100 years later & we are still speaking out – there must be hope for the future. https://www.facebook.com/forharriet/videos/910802722299848
performance, poetry, music, film event by arts-activists Platform on Sunday 28th June + weekend of events as part of the Footprint Modulation exhibition 27th-29th June
Justice campaign for Ken Saro-Wiwa; divestment from corrupt fuel; diaspora responses to climate refugees; miners and workers rights. In partnership with the international conference ‘Human Migration and the Environment’ www.durhamconference.eu at Durham University
Five events over three days 27th-29th June as a part of Footprint Modulation exhibition – art and interventions exploring climate change, global justice and human displacement www.footprintmodulation.net . Download PDF flyer-programme HERE .
SUNDAY 28TH JUNE (a great day out!) 7pm-11pm PERFORMANCE NIGHT: Oil, politics, poetry with a performance by Platform ‘Silence Would Be Treason’ and also Transition Durham – at EMPTY SHOP HQ 4.30pm-6.30pm DEBATE-DISCUSSION: Workers rights, migration, miners and climate change – at Miners’ Hall 2pm-4pm ARTIST PRESENTATIONS + DISCUSSION: Connecting migrant realities in the UK – at Oriental Museum
SATURDAY 27TH JUNE 2pm-4pm PANEL DISCUSSION: Art, Climate Change, Migration and Activism – at Durham Art Gallery
MONDAY 29TH JUNE 6.30pm FILM SCREENING + PANEL DISCUSSION: ‘EXIT’ film by Diller Scofidio + Renfro – at Appleby Theatre, Geography West Building, Durham University (free, but registration necessary at www.exitfilm.eventbrite.co.uk)
Sunday 28th June, 7pm-11pm at EMPTY SHOP HQ 35c Framwellgate Bridge, DH1 4SJ www.emptyshop.org Silence Would Be Treason: Between Nigeria and here by Platform
20 years after Ken Saro-Wiwa’s murder and Shell still haven’t cleaned up. Campaigner Jane Trowell (Platform) and poets Sai Murray and Selina Nwulu encourage you to ‘get the Bus to Nigeria’ to force change to happen in this performance by Platform. + De-Oiling Durham by Transition Durham
Screening of a film documenting their work to reduce Durham’s oil and fossil dependency plus live poetry from Mika Laiho and a discussion about local activism.
Workers rights, migration, miners and climate change
Sunday 28th June, 4.30pm-6.30pm at Miners Hall www.durhamminers.org
Provocative debate where Dave Douglass (trade unionist, miners historian and writer), Alex Randall (UK Climate Change and Migration Coalition) and others battle out their positions, incl. a guided tour of the art works on show at the Miners’ Hall.
Connecting migrant realities in the UK
Sunday 28th June, 2pm-4pm at Oriental Museum www.dur.ac.uk/oriental.museum
Presentations and discussion by artists Maya Chowdhry, Tracey Zengeni, Mazaher and Apu Chowdhury incl. guided tour of the art works.
Above image: artworks on show at Miners’ Hall, Durham
Art, Climate Change, Migration and Activism
Saturday 27th June, 2pm-4pm at Durham Art Gallery www.dlidurham.org.uk
Gallery tour, talks and discussion with artist Kooj Chuhan, Alex Randall (UK Climate Change and Migration Coalition), Janet Stewart (Director, Centre for Visual Arts and Culture) and Andrew Telford (climate change researcher, Geography Dept, Durham University).
‘EXIT’ film by Diller Scofidio + Renfro (USA): Screening + panel discussion
Mon 29th June, 6.30pm at Appleby Theatre, Geography West Building, Durham University
Digital film-art visualising climate migration data, a recognised key work addressing the theme. Free public tickets available online at www.exitfilm.eventbrite.co.uk . A part of the ‘Human Migration & Environment’ conference www.durhamconference.eu .
The Launch through a lens: Footprint Modulation’s Launch by local photographer Simone Rudolphi
Footprint Modulation had its preview and launch night on Thursday 4th June at Durham Art Gallery (DLI). The evening was not what you might typically expect from a launch for an art exhibition, starting with the relaxed and accessible manner Kooj Chuhan, the artistic-director and one of the artists exhibiting, spoke about the journey behind the exhibition and his artwork at the DLI. Kooj Chuhan’s work, titled Chamada From Chico Mendes, is an interactive piece in which visitors can play different resources like a musical instrument, ranging from bottled water to a mobile phone, to create different effects on the collage of documentary footage displayed in a mask image. Other speakers at the preview showed the range of partners involved in the exhibition, from grassroots climate change organisation Transition Durham to climate change researcher Dr Andrew Baldwin. The evening finished with moving poetry from Platform’s Sai Murray, and a beautiful impromptu song from Tracey Zengeni whose artwork will be on display at the Durham Miners’ Hall, rounding off a unique and affecting evening.
An exhibition of art and interventions exploring climate change, global justice and human displacement across five venues in Durham, UK. 5th June – 5th July 2015 www.footprintmodulation.net
Exhibition Preview and Launch Thursday 4th June, 6pm-8pm at Durham Art Gallery www.dlidurham.org.uk
The preview evening’s gathering will include presentations by Kooj Chuhan (artistic director), Maya Chowdhry (co-producer), Dr Andrew Baldwin (Geography Dept, Durham University) and selected artists. Launching an art exhibition exploring climate migration and displacement, includes live poetry by Sai Murray, short screening + more to be announced…
The exhibition runs 5th June – 5th July 2015 at five venues:
DURHAM ART GALLERY / ORIENTAL MUSEUM / MINERS HALL / EMPTY SHOP HQ / DURHAM UNIVERSITY
+ Special Events Weekend 27th-29th June
Artworks and contributions from: SHAHIDUL ALAM : PLATFORM (LONDON) : KOOJ CHUHAN : MAYA CHOWDHRY : MAZAHER : TRACEY ZENGENI : APU CHOWDHURY : TRANSITION DURHAM : DILLER, SCOFIDIO + RENFRO : UK CLIMATE CHANGE & MIGRATION COALITION : MIKA LAIHO : SAI MURRAY & SELINA NWULU : DAVE DOUGLASS : NIGEL HULETT : JUDY PRICE & ANDREW CONIO : GEOGRAPHY@DURHAM UNI
A Metaceptive project in partnership with the international conference ‘Human Migration and the Environment: Futures, Politics and Invention’ at Durham University 28th June – 1st July 2015 www.durhamconference.eu
Sai Murray to read some poetry at this event
An exhibition exploring climate migration:
Popular ideas of climate change rarely connect with migration even though migration is probably the largest human consequence of climate change. The creative work presented here moves on from often didactic climate-art approaches from a decade ago without ducking strong critiques, and harnesses fresh perspectives from migrants and global voices.
Artists and activists at all levels from internationally acclaimed to local and emerging, and from countries including Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Iran, Brazil and Australia are involved in this exhibition exploring climate migration. Footprint Modulation culminates in a fantastic weekend of public performance, film screenings and discussions involving artists, activists, performers, community members and researchers, and which dovetails neatly into the final conference at Durham University.
Artistic director, curation and project management – Kooj (Kuljit Chuhan) of Metaceptive Projects and Media.
Collaborative research partner and conference chair – Dr Andrew Baldwin, Geography Dept, Durham University.
Artistic producer and transmedia consultant – Maya Chowdhry.
The exhibition opening for ‘Chamada From Chico Mendes’ will talk using live video with Maria Benevides on Eco-Brazil, Chico Mendes, Forests and Water on Saturday 28th February 2015 at Global Grooves Arts Centre (MAP). This will bring some of the realities that people in Brazil are currently facing direct to the audience at the event, where the audience will be able to ask questions chaired by the poet Sai Murray who has worked for some years on issues of climate justice and is the MC for the event.
Chico Mendes, Forests and Water – the context for a digital art work
‘Chamada From Chico Mendes’ is a digital art work by Kooj Chuhan made up of art and documentary video, imagery, poetry and sound from across the world – full details at www.metaceptive.net/chamada . Visitors encounter a range of objects which they can play like instruments, which then spark off visuals, music and words from guest artists, film-makers and environmental activists. Kooj describes it as an “exhibition within an installation” because of the wide range of material that the audience can view and interact with.
Its starting point is the powerful story of Chico Mendes, who was a Brazilian rubber tapper, trade union leader and environmentalist committed to protecting the Amazon’s ecosystem. He had opposition from industrialists and corrupt government officials, was jailed, fined and threatened, and just over 25 years ago he was eventually murdered but has now become a national hero in Brazil. “Chamada” means a ‘call to all’ in Portuguese, and the exhibition is about other voices contributing their parallel experience to that of Chico Mendes.
During the evening event, which includes live performance, guided tour, poetry and food, Maria will talk to us live from Brazil and will discuss:
– What are the important issues for climate change in Brazil?
– How is Chico Mendes is understood in Brazil?
– What influence did he have?
– Which other people are doing that kind of work now?
– What are the difficulties right now for people doing this kind of work?
– How serious are the water shortages and what are the future issues that they raise?
If you can’t make it to the event, maybe because you are too far away, the event will be webcast live at 7.30pm GMT (UK time). You will be able to watch it on ANY device that can play a YouTube video, and you will be able to type in any comments or questions live during the event. The web address for the webcast is: http://metaceptive.net/chamada/live-webcast/ or directly from this YouTube page https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRjDjx-TjE0 .
About Maria Benevides:
Maria Benevides is a Brazilian journalist working for NGOs, research institutions and think thanks on media relations and content production related to environmental issues. She has previously worked as a producer for the BBC World Service and the BBC Media Action in London. She also acted as a UNHCR spokesperson in Angola, UNDP’s press officer in Brazil, IRIN’s editor in South Africa and Head of Communications for the British Embassy in Brazil. Her continuing interests are in green economy, sustainable development, the Amazon forest and the people living there.
Videos about Chico Mendes and Wangari Maathai now online:
There is a great video about Chico Mendes as told by his close collaborator Marcos Afonso now online: http://metaceptive.net/chamada/chico-mendes/ . This is accompanied by an excellent article ‘Martyr of the Amazon: The legacy of Chico Mendes’ by Kate Evans / CIFOR, well worth the read. “At first I thought I was fighting to save the rubber trees; then I thought I was fighting to save the Amazon rainforest. Now I realise I am fighting for humanity,” Mendes famously said.
http://www.observatorioflorestal.org.br – Forest Code Observatory: This is a network of NGOs and institutions that joined to monitor the implementation of the new Brazilian Forest Code and Quartzo (Maria Benevides’ own company) has created and has been managing the contents of the website and social media since it was founded, two and a half years ago. Maria’s talk will touch on the work of this network.
Guest artists, film-makers and activists
This exhibition and project involves a range of contributions from across the globe. They include Sarawut Chutiwongpeti (Thailand), Badrul Alam and Bangladesh Krishok Federation, Heiko Thiele and Zwischenzeit e.V. (Germany), Marcella Haddad (Brazil), Shaikh Mohir Uddin & Rural Visual Journalism Network at Drik (Bangladesh), Fuyumi Labre Lopez (Uruguay/Spain), Milda Lembertaite / Amelia Prazak (Lithuania/Switzerland), Victor Steffensen and the Living Knowledge Place (Australia), Nigel Hulett (Zimbabwe), Ali Pretty and Kinetika (UK), Marian Osman (Somalia) with ‘Democracy Now!’ (USA), Maya Chowdhry (UK), Julia Davenport (UK), Jose Ignacio Lopez Ramirez-Gaston (Peru/Spain). Selected media from these contributors will be watchable on extra screens in the exhibition. Percussion loops produced by 17 young musicians from the Future Leaders carnival arts training programme by Global Grooves. READ MORE ABOUT THE GUEST ARTISTS