Video art and documentary exhibition connects wars, colonialism and games, focusing on World War I. Launches 18th April.

The Poppy Retake video art installation connecting wars, colonialism, gamesTHE 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

WORKSHOP + ARTIST’S TALK: Sat 22nd April 2pm – with Southern voices members, and the artist Kooj Chuhan
FREE ENTRY but booking advised: www.shadowspoppyworkshop.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.

Full details about The Poppy Retake and its connecting of wars, colonialism and games at www.metaceptive.net/poppy-retake

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.

Full details at www.southernvoices.org

Progressive media: Poster Film Collective in the 80s and other online pieces

Selected posts by Kooj Chuhan during July or so on Metaceptive’s Facebook page :

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?

The Chance Or Choice report suggests long term answer lies in foreign policy.
http://www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/latest/news/842_new_research_shows_asylum_seekers_do_not_choose_to_come_to_the_uk
A key paragraph from the report:

refugeeCouncil_chanceOrChoice_1426518702

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.

Colonialism, Africa, Sustainable Food, Environment

How did ‪#‎colonialism‬ affect sustainable food in ‪#‎Africa‬? ‪#‎WalterRodney‬ explains, connecting ‪#‎race‬ with ‪#‎environment‬. Essential for raising political and cultural consciousness.
http://www.walterrodneyfoundation.org/12th-annual-walter-rodney-symposium-biographies/

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

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.

Murders of environmental activists in Brazil

Half the killings worldwide of ‪#‎conservation‬ ‪#‎activists‬ are in Brazil. Story of ‪#‎ChicoMendes‬ is inspiring http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/20/brazil-salutes-chico-mendes-25-years-after-murder   and vital to understand the continuing politics in Brazil today. Apart from this brief Guardian article I’d recommend reading the book “Fight For The Forest: Chico Mendes in His Own Words”.

Exxon-Mobil massively fund climate denial
Exxon-Mobil spent vast amounts of money over decades to promote ‪#‎climatedenial‬ . Can they be held to account? http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jul/08/exxon-climate-change-1981-climate-denier-funding

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.

https://www.facebook.com/ajplusenglish/videos/595303030611208

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

Does ‪#‎film‬ industry in UK have ‪#‎institutionalracism‬ rearing its ugly head? http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/features/does-britain-have-a-problem-with-race-when-it-comes-to-film-distribution-10364511.html
Some important arguments put forward in this article.

Revolutionary poetry in Pakistan
Awarded ‪#‎LeninPeacePrize‬, twice nominated for ‪#‎NobelPeacePrize‬, imprisoned in Pakistan, spend time with Yasser Arafat during exile, was a journalist in Soviet Russia, married and English woman, wrote about African independence during a trip to Kenya… Faiz Ahmed Faiz, he was a revolutionary poet of huge stature. I think he really needs some wider recognition outside Urdu poetry circles. (see example video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRVEfc5zcoE)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faiz_Ahmad_Faiz

Royal Family’s ties with Hitler and the Nazi’s are finally revealed.
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jul/19/nazi-hitler-royal-family

Eye-opening video by the Quakers about the militarisation of schools, strongly related to national identity and foreign policy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OgJ83yYIR1g

Maria Benevides on Eco-Brazil, Chico Mendes, Forests and Water: live link confirmed

Maria Benevides on Eco-Brazil, Chico Mendes, Forests and Water

Maria Benevides

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.

video - legacy of chico mendes

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.

Also now online is a trailer for the film ‘Taking Root’ about Wangari Maathai, the activist who went on to become the first environmentalist and also the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize (2004): watch it at http://metaceptive.net/chamada/register-to-attend/#taking-root .Taking-Root-Signature-image

The Forest Code Observatory

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

Digital Art, Carnival, Environmental Activism and Documentary

‘CHAMADA FROM CHICO MENDES’

Digital Art meets Afro-Brazilian carnivalCHAMADA FROM CHICO MENDES combines Digital Art, Afro-Brazilian Carnival, Environmental Activism. Installation art by Kooj Chuhan.

Interactive Digital Carnival Installation by artist Kooj Chuhan, inspired by environmental activism stories from across the world – including Chico Mendes.
SPECIAL OPENING EVENTS SAT 28th FEB incl. Film Screening, discussion, Multimedia Music Performance, live Brazil link, interviews, poetry and free food! Full details: http://metaceptive.net/chamada/

at Global Grooves Centre until 21st March. 10 mins walk from Mossley station – just 20 mins train from Manchester, only £4 off-peak day return ticket! (MAP)

– 4pm: Film “TAKING ROOT: WANGARI MAATHAI” + discussion.

– 7pm: LIVE PERFORMANCE by Kooj/Holly/Leon, guided tour, poetry by Sai Murray, live link with Brazil environmentalists + Free Food!

FREE TICKETS at: https://chamada-from-chico-mendes.eventbrite.co.uk/

MORE DETAILS

A digital art work inspired by Brazilian activist Chico Mendes, made up of voices, imagery and sound from across the world. Visitors encounter a range of objects which they can play like instruments, which then spark off videos, music and poetry from guest artists, documentary filmmakers and environmental activists.  A pioneering attempt to combine Digital Art, Carnival, Environmental Activism and Documentary.

Wangari-Maathai-Taking-Root-Signature-image– 4pm-6pm: Film Screening “TAKING ROOT: THE VISION OF WANGARI MAATHAI” the activist who went on to become the first environmentalist and also the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize (2004). Plus talk by Kooj exploring Climate Justice, incl. discussion chaired by poet-activist Sai Murray.

– 7pm: LIVE MULTIMEDIA – MUSIC PERFORMANCE, presented by poet Sai Murray plus guided tour of the installation and a live link with Brazilian environmentalists. Free food included!

– LIVE WEBCAST – if you can’t make the evening, watch the performance, interviews, Brazil link and Poetry online! Simply tune in from 7.30pm at:  http://metaceptive.net/chamada/live-webcast/

GG-drummingTHIS EVENT IS FREE, BUT ONLINE BOOKING IS STRONGLY ADVISED. REGISTER AT:
http://metaceptive.net/chamada/register-to-attend/

READ MORE ABOUT CHICO MENDES at http://metaceptive.net/chamada/chico-mendes/

GUEST ARTISTS: Kooj Chuhan invited artists and activists from across the world for media contributions to create a composite work from each person’s own parallel to Chico’s story, creating an ‘exhibition within an installation’ with Afro-Brazilian layers.
READ MORE ABOUT THE GUEST ARTISTS at http://metaceptive.net/chamada/guest-artists-and-activists/

Map for Global Grooves Arts Centre

Map for Global Grooves Arts Centre

Venue and Location: Global Grooves Arts Centre
Vale Mill, Micklehurst Road, Mossley, Ashton-under-Lyne OL5 9JL.
10 mins walk from Mossley train station.  Walk all the way up Micklehurst Road, find the mill via the last turning on the right before the end of the road.
Just 20 mins by train from Manchester Victoria station, costs only £4 for an off-peak day return ticket!

A project by Metaceptive Projects and Media in partnership with Global Grooves
www.metaceptive.net
www.globalgrooves.org

chamada-logoBannerOnWhite

Manifesto for Documentary by Roger Graef

Manifesto for Documentary by Roger GraefEarlier this year I was mentored by Roger Graef to develop a documentary project (still progressing) which was a pretty condensed and rigorous experience. His 50-year career includes a number of ground-breaking achievements, directly influenced policing, criminal justice and social policy, and which earned him a BAFTA fellowship in 2004 and a lifetime achievement award at Sheffield DocFest in 2014.

We now also have a manifesto for documentary by Roger Graef, an excellent outline of 10 key changes needed to invogorate worthwhile documentary productions with meaning and depth, available to read at https://sheffdocfest.com/articles/186-roger-graef-s-manifesto .

I was pleased to see two critical items in it, items 2 and 3 in his list:

2 we need more foreign stories.

Not just about countries in extremis. In the past, there were many programme strands that specialised in foreign coverage, like europa, Under the Sun, Granada’s Disappearing World and Correspondent. Its successor The BBC’s This World was a foavirte for me to make films for and to watch, but it had many more slots.  Channel 4’s excellent Unreported World is only a commercial half hour.  BBC4 used to have lots of foreign docs but no longer has the money for them.

Today’s resistance to stories even from Northern Ireland and Europe as well as further afield leaves huge holes in our knowledge of the world.  It feeds the ignorance of diplomats and politicians about countries like Iraq, Ukraine and Afghanistan – with disastrous consequences.

Currently the radically different versions of news on US, Russian and Ukrainian television and websites reflect the bias i referred to above.  Closer to home is the so-called debate about Europe in the runup to the elections. If you don’t have alternative reliable sources like documentaries, you believe the fragments of what you see from politicians with an agenda. And you fill in the gaps with your own prejudices.

3 commissioners and filmmakers need the freedom to take more risks.

Panorama does take risks, contrary to the recent BBC trust report. It invests the necessary time to get the evidence – as seen in both its recent special hospital and care home specials.  So does Channel Four’s Dispatches, which the trust praises.

But doc makers and commissioners are constricted by the ed spec, the editorial specification that obliges us to predict our film’s content in detail before we even start shooting. This is especially pointless for unstaged access observational films where nobody knows what is going to happen while we film. It’s fiction really, a best guess made far too early.

For example, in our recent series on Iceland, the supermarket chain, we had no idea the horsemeat scandal would break in the middle of filming. It became an important theme which we could not have predicted.   Every obdoc maker will have similar stories. That’s the point of not staging things. Unexpected events can happen right up to the end of filming. That happened with our itv series inside the British Communist Party, when we made an entire film in the last 24 hours of two years of filming. It won the RTS Award.

Good stuff.  Will it be heard and be actioned?  I hope it has some influence, though it is mostly against the grain of the way things seem to be going (and thats why its needed).  Lets wait and see.  No – lets push to move things forward.  And pass them on.