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:

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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

Launch of Footprint Modulation – art exhibition exploring climate migration

FOOTPRINT MODULATION
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

FOOTPRINT MODULATION_horizontalPromoWide2text_750x184Exhibition 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…

You can join this event on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/1385392818458056/

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

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.

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Doh Mix Meh Up exhibition in Oxford presents video art by Kooj Chuhan

This weekend on 1st Nov 2014 the ‘Doh Mix Meh Up’ Exhibition in Oxford presents video art by Kooj Chuhan / Virtual Migrants, titled “Buy This (v3)” on race-migration-climate issues which is itself detailed at this page: http://metaceptive.net/buy-this-v3-video-installation-art .

The ‘Doh Mix Meh Up’ exhibition

Doh Mix Meh Up exhibition in Oxford presents video art by Kooj Chuhan

More info:

‘Doh Mix Meh Up’ – Diaspora and Identity in Art

https://www.facebook.com/events/649558785140456

A free one-day exhibition and performance programme exploring the role of the arts in understanding, expressing and experiencing diaspora.

1st November 2014, 3pm – 10pm

Panel Discussion:
‘Exploring Diaspora through the Arts’, 6pm

 Drinks reception, 7pm

Venue:
Old Fire Station,
40 George St, Oxford, OX1 2AQ

Featured artists: Pablo & Roxana Allison, Raymond Antrobus, Phoebe Boswell, Rosa Couloute, Scarlett Crawford, David Creedon, Afra Dekie, Sharelly Emanuelson, JJ Bola, Justice in Motion, Belinda Kazeem-Kaminski, Lynette Letic, Caroline Molloy, Melissa Tandiwe Myambo, Miyuki Okuyama, Kajal Nisha Patel, Sharon Paz, Mikaela Toczek, Kooj Chuhan/Virtual Migrants and Clare Walter.

Curated by: Sunil Shah.

‘Doh Mix Meh Up’ is a one-day international art exhibition and performance programme featuring artists and artworks selected from an open call entitled ‘Exploring Diaspora through the Arts’. The event brings together artist works, photography, film, spoken word poetry, theatre and a panel discussion as a way of exploring the varied and multifaceted experiences of those around the world who have moved from home to make a new life elsewhere.

Diasporas exist globally and include people with layered and diverse experiences. Art provides a means to express these complexities and creates a platform for alternative narratives, which often challenge existing power structures. Art also invites the viewer to engage with these narratives at a personal level and interpret the subject for themselves. The range of media and creative approaches on show here are as diverse as the people and stories being told.

‘Doh Mix Meh Up’ is delivered by the Oxford Diasporas Programme with support from Old Fire Station Arts.
The exhibition is curated by artist and curator, Sunil Shah.
It is supported by the Oxford Diasporas Programme and hosted by The Old Fire Station, aims to bring together artists, scholars, students and the general public to explore aesthetic manifestations and representations of diasporas, and reflect on what the arts contribute to diaspora studies. It also seeks to provide a platform for established and newly emerging artists to share, showcase, and sell their work.

The three winning entries for the ODP Photography Competition will also be displayed at this event.

Buy This (v3) by Kooj Chuhan – video installation art archived by Vtape (Toronto)

The 2-screen installation ‘Buy This (v3)’ created with support from Virtual Migrants as part of their Centre Cannot Hold ongoing exploration of climate imperialism, was re-formatted as a single screen artists’ video and toured Canada as part of the Monitor 9 programme by SAVAC (South Asian Visual Arts Centre) in Toronto.  We now have this video installation art archived by Vtape, a non-profit distribution and resource centre in Toronto.  Vtape is the leading distributor for video art in Canada, established in 1980. They represent a collection of over 5000 titles, accessible to artists, curators and educators.

Buy This (v3)  by Kooj Chuhan - video installation art archived by VtapeThe original ‘Buy This (v1) installation was more complex and interactive, exhibited at The Arnolfini in Bristol (2009) as a part of the ‘C Words’ exhibition about climate justice. This later non-interactive video-based version (v3) was premiered at the first Platforma Festival in December 2011 as a proper 2-screen installation followed by Manchester’s local Chorlton Arts Festival in 2012, and then in 2013 toured a few venues in Canada courtesy of South Asian Visual Arts Centre (Toronto) as part of Monitor 9 with the two screens compiled into a single screen for ease of exhibition, and then also at No.W.Here Gallery in London.

BuyThisV3_MG_7055_sAlthough this work has been screened as a single video stream, it is best viewed using two separate projectors as an installation because the intention is that the two screens loop at different rates so that the imagery juxtaposition continually changes.   Here is the original description of the work:

Buy This (v3) video installation 

by artist Kooj (Kuljit) Chuhan, 2012, a part of an ongoing exploration by Virtual Migrants artists’ group

Year of completion: 2012
Country of production: UK
Running time: 6 mins 20 secs as a continual loop

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.

An exploration of how environmental change is integral to the economic and political forces bringing about human displacement and racial inequality, and a continuation of the “Centre Cannot Hold” project discussing climate imperialism and the violent commodification of humans and the environment.

Increasing numbers of people in the UK are sceptical of man-made climate change, outnumbering those who accept climate change as man-made.  Many local members of refugee communities have recent personal experiences and observations from their originating countries which are able to testify to environmental change.  By enabling local refugees to express first-hand observations from countries they have recently migrated from, collaborating with scientists and social scientists to discuss their data, local people can intimately appreciate changing conditions in other countries.  At the same time, it is an opportunity to raise discussion in the UK about the global connections between race and climate, and also how they may impact on issues such as asylum in Europe and the West.

The media-saturated culture which we in the western world inhabit is a facet of a wider approach to (over-) consumption which has become the norm, and which is fundamental to ideas of maximising economic growth with the resultant process of murdering the planet’s resources and bringing about climate devastation.  More than this, the arts, media and cultural sectors is largely complicit in nurturing false illusions and political amnesia, this ‘soft’ consumption of particular cultural and aesthetic meanings actually forms our ways of thinking, seals our disconnections, and this video work taunts the viewer to Buy This.

Short film “No Trace” starring the late great Brian Morgan, now on YouTube

Brian’s very recent and terribly tragic death is a loss to so many of us, he was a remarkable man and actor – probably the best I have worked with.  I have now put the short film I directed, written by Peter Kalu and of course starring Brian Morgan, on to YouTube so its hopefully easier to find.  (Up until now its only been on Vimeo).  Here it is, hopefully a fitting tribute:

No Trace

A short drama film which explores the abuse and haunting of the city, the daily struggle to maintain a shred of integrity amidst the pathetic cycles of people who need to run away and cover their tracks as the only way they can gain some control over their future.

These cycles are a mirror for Darryl Johnson, a black low-life private detective forever haunted by his previous abuse when in the army. He is addicted to his job specialising in finding other people’s children who have run away from home to escape their own hidden and secretive problems that threaten to engulf them. These sordid cases overlap with his own past, in a city where he is always painfully aware of the back-street disposability of all the characters he engages with. But there’s this case about a girl called Emma that gets to him, just one case too many, or maybe he just can’t hide from himself any longer…

Using an intelligent and driving narrative, “No Trace” explores issues around homelessness and pressures of the city with sensitivity and character.

Directed by Kooj (Kuljit) Chuhan        Written by Peter Kalu
Produced by Kuljit ‘Kooj’ Chuhan & Linda Clarke
Camera – Stephen Wong        Assistant Director – Mario Posada
Editing, Post-Production and Sound Design  by Kooj Chuhan
Art Direction –  Kooj Chuhan, Peter Kalu & Linda Clarke
Director of Photography and script-editing – Kooj Chuhan
Sound recording/boom – Simon Allott & Heather James
Make Up – Cindy & Chelcey Huxley        Runner – David Beaumont

Darryl – Brian Morgan
Emma – Shauna Jackson
Jenny’s boyfriend – Karl Seth
Emma’s Dad –  Raymond Dow
Jack – Anthony MacIntosh
Jenny – Karen Howarth
Emma’s Friend – Kimberley Glover
Street Guys – Chris Johnson & Jon Cockroft

© 2007, Metaceptive Media / Kuljit Chuhan

a Metaceptive Media production
in association with Living Colour productions

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Media Resources linking #Race with #ClimateChange #Migration and #Displacement

The following is intended to be a useful resource comprising videos of the various presentations from a fascinating and provocative workshop. It is for anyone interested in the connections between issues of race, migration and climate change, bearing in mind the academic context of the narratives and language used. This media resource was created and produced by Kooj (Kuljit) Chuhan / Metaceptive Media in association with Virtual Migrants artist collective.

On June 18th and 19th 2013 at Durham University (UK), a group of researchers, theorists and academics from universities across Europe came together to share critical studies and perspectives on the intersection between climate change, migration and race. The ‘workshop’ event was titled:

Race, alterity and affect: rethinking climate change-induced migration and displacement

Introduction to the Race, alterity and affect workshop:

This workshop was developed and convened by Andrew Baldwin, and included two very interesting (and ‘relatively’ accessible) keynote presentations from David Theo Goldberg and Uma Kothari respectively. The presentations generally involve language, concepts and jargon from academia and may be hard to understand for many of us, but what is being discussed is for the most part really worthwhile.

At http://virtualmigrants.net/racealterityaffect/keynotes, there are two very worthwhile hour-long videos of each of the keynote presentations mentioned above. Also, at http://virtualmigrants.net/racealterityaffect/otherpresentations, the rest of the set of presentations (unedited footage) can be accessed as a separate page.

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Kooj Chuhan is currently working on developing further creative, visual exhibition and video documentary projects on these and related themes, including a deeper partnership with Andrew at Durham and with the UK Climate Change and Migration coalition in London.

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