World War One’s Hidden Voices: documentary and art in two parallel exhibitions

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

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 RetakeTHE 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’.

www.metaceptive.net/poppy-retake

 

From the Shadows of War and Empire

documentary exhibition by Southern Voices

Few know about how European powers brought colonies into World War I, took resources from these countries and took the war to ‘fronts’ outside Europe. An exhibition which finally tells this major part of the story from the colonies’ point of view. We focus on India, the West Indies, German and British East Africa, and Nigeria – the British Colonies.

Did you know that the first and last shots of World War One by ‘British’ forces were fired not in Europe, but in Africa? Or that 1.5 million soldiers from India fought for the British? The exhibition examines the impact of 1914-18 on these selected colonised countries from the viewpoint of the colonised peoples themselves – their situation as colonies, the impact of the war on them and on anti-colonial struggles. Accompanied by ‘The Poppy Retake’ art installation by Kooj Chuhan, this exhibition gives us incredible context and information about World War One’s Hidden Voices.

www.southernvoices.org

World War One's Hidden Voices - funder logosWorld War One's Hidden Voices - funder logosPlease share via Facebook
www.facebook.com/events/1660602353990894

 

Strong responses to The Poppy Retake at Z-arts: WWI’s colonial impact, the game of war today

The Poppy Retake at Z-artsA 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 Poppy Retake at Z-artsThe 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).