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 wars, colonialism, games with the involvement and impact on European Colonies.  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 and recent conflicts 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 through selected characters from today and from history especially the ww1 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 these people and events but we remain stuck in a continual loop of wars, colonialism, which appears to have no end, driven along by a background musical tempo which plays 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

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.

Future Leaders – a new film by Kooj Chuhan / Metaceptive Media

A lively documentary profile of the inspiring national apprenticeship and training programme in carnival arts has just been released: Future Leaders – a new film by Kooj Chuhan / Metaceptive Media.  Anyone interested in arts, young people, communities, carnival, music, dance, visual arts, multi-cultural development and so on should find this interesting.

Full information about this fantastic arts programme which is run by Global Grooves is at www.futureleaders.org.uk .  Video created by Kooj Chuhan / Metaceptive Media.  [This video is also published on the Global Grooves YouTube channel where a lot more people have seen it – at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9B7uaoWYpcc ]

Includes an interview with Steve White – who was the drummer with the Style Council (Paul Weller) and other worthwhile bands.

Introductory information about Future Leaders

from their website:
‘Future Leaders’ apprentices (aged between 13 and 25 depending on the art form) will extend their practical skills in carnival arts based music making, dance, visual arts and drum kit, as well as gain project management experience, guided by leading artists and professionals in their field. Study opportunities include residential weekend workshops, business and project development, and CPD (continuing professional development), all cemented by distance mentoring from leading UK and international artists and practitioners, tutorials, and portfolio work.

Future Leaders - a new film by Kooj Chuhan  Future Leaders - a new film by Kooj Chuhan  Future Leaders - a new film by Kooj Chuhan

Interviewees in order of first appearance:
Holly Prest – Global Grooves Artistic Director and music tutor
Pareesha – visual arts apprentice
James – dance apprentice
Ali Pretty – artistic director of Kinetika and visual arts tutor
Oscar – music apprentice
Deanna – dance apprentice
Colin Spalding – artistic director of Rampage Mas and visual arts tutor
Stephen – visual arts apprentice
Dominic – music apprentice
Mariana Pinho – artistic director of Gandaia Arts and dance tutor
Farheen – music apprentice
Maisie – dance apprentice
Jon Hardeman – director of Grupo Ilu Axé and music tutor
Brian – parent of young arts apprentice
Simon – parent of young arts apprentice
Angela Chappell – Relationship Manager, Combined Arts at Arts Council
England
Steve White – leading UK musician and patron of Future Leaders
Eraldo Marques – Global Grooves Executive Director and music tutor

Filmed at the Castleshaw Centre (Delph), Livingstone Primary School
(Mossley) and Global Grooves Carnival Centre (Mossley)

Music Soundtrack taken with kind permission from performance by Jon
Hardeman, Grupo Ilu Axé, recorded live at Trinity Centre, Bristol, 2014.

All video production and editing by Kooj (Kuljit Chuhan) of Metaceptive
Projects and Media

Thanks to all of the participants, staff, volunteers, supporting
organisations, funders and individuals that made this possible.

In respectful memory of Mat Fox.

www.futureleaders.org.uk
www.globalgrooves.org

a Metaceptive production for Global Grooves.
www.metaceptive.net

Copyright 2014, Global Grooves / Metaceptive

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Interactive Digital Carnival Installation – a call to filmmakers, artists, poets, environmental activists

[ see the updated info on this project at www.metaceptive.net/chamada ]

Connecting with environmental activism and climate justice, to be created by artist Kooj Chuhan, ‘Chamada From Chico Mendes’ will be driven by an open call for contributions of video, images, poetry, sounds, and anything that could work with the theme.

ChamadaFromChicoMendes_v1crop_800x250To view the OPEN CALL – please click HERE .  DEADLINE EXTENDED: Please contact us by October 31st 2014 to express your interest.

The artist Kooj Chuhan (UK / India) is creating an interactive digital carnival installation connecting Brazilian environmentalist Chico Mendes with environmental justice issues across the world. It will be made from audio and visual material from many people and it will use interactive objects and projections that visitors can actually ‘play’ like percussion.

The digital art exhibition will take place February 28th – March 21st 2015 at a new Carnival Arts Centre in Manchester (UK), run by Global Grooves.  We then intend to tour this installation to different galleries, exhibition venues and also public places including at carnival events.

What is the installation about?

The exhibition’s 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.

There is so much around us to do with our environment, how we consume things, how people try and change things, and how big businesses get in the way. Chico’s story is universal, so the installation wants to show material from different people about other ways that these kinds of things happen in different parts of the world. We are especially interested in indigenous rights and issues for poorer communities.  The exhibition will be called “Chamada From Chico Mendes” (“Chamada” means “a call to all” in Portuguese).

This is a video art project that links carnival vibes with environmental campaigns, driven by people and groups from different places.  Read more about Chico Mendes: www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/20/brazil-salutes-chico-mendes-25-years-after-murder .

There will be posts about this work on the blog as the project develops, and there is an Open Call to any Film-makers or Video Artists, or anyone with images or footage to contribute, at www.metaceptive.net/chamada-open-call .  The way to contact us about the project if you are interested to get involved is via the form at www.metaceptive.net/chamada-contact .

There is also a special invitation to members of the Future Leaders carnival arts training programme by Global Grooves, who can use the same contact form above.

A project by Kooj Chuhan & Metaceptive in partnership with Global Grooves, with support from Arts Council of England and Youth Music.

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