Freedom of Movement?
Curated by Mandla Rae
An exhibition and digital performance showcasing multidisciplinary migrant artists’ responses to the idea of ‘freedom of movement’.
In recent months across Europe, people’s freedom of movement has been restricted due to national policies to slow the spread of Covid-19. For many people this is the first time their personal freedom of movement has been limited in this way. This has caused unfamiliar feelings of fear, frustration and isolation. But for people experiencing forced migration due to fleeing war and persecution in their home countries, this is the situation they have to live with every day and for many it can last years, sometimes decades.
Journeys Festival International and Zimbabwean artist Mandla Rae have been exploring this comparison during lockdown by connecting young artists based in Europe who face travel restrictions due to their immigration status with UK based creatives to create new digital artworks that will be shared online during Journeys Festival International.
The Freedom of Movement? exhibition experience is part of the LIBERTY EU Creative Europe programme. The work is a combination of film, soundscapes, animations, and performance created through new artistic partnerships between artists from different national and artistic backgrounds.
Artists Panel Discussion and Q&A
You can now watch back our Freedom of Movement? Artists in a panel discussion and Q&A that followed the exhibition’s virtual launch.
Independent performance maker and culture worker Xavier de Sousa Chaired the conversation between Freedom of Movement? artists, exploring their response to the topic, the social issues raised in their work and the wider contexts of freedom of movement as a whole. Xavier curates the digital series queeringborders and the co-founder of activist group Migrants in Culture.
This event is presented in partnership with People’s History Museum.
Top image: Morteza Khaleghi
Side image: Aspect Ratio by Betül Aksu, photo courtesy of plugin Contemporary Istanbul.
About the artists and their new work.
These newly commissioned works include a soundscape by multidisciplinary artist and researcher Betül Aksu, exploring her memories over the past seven years as she has moved in between European countries searching for home. Betül will be collaborating with Kurdish visual artist and performer Bahzad Sulaiman. Sulaiman’s new work will be a documentary film exploring the body’s mass in 30 days of quarantine.
Theatre maker and curator Pankaj Tiwari will be showcasing new film The Art of Walking - documenting his walk from Amsterdam to Calais. This is a performative project that raises awareness in Europe and beyond about the ongoing struggle of migrant labourers displaced after the COVID-19 lockdown in India and that have been walking long distances from big cities to their native villages. He will be collaborating with UK based Sanctuary Theatre Company Stand and be Counted. Following on from the show Where We Began, the company presents a new film exploring Taf’s experiences trying to apply for a spousal visa during a lockdown which causes even more uncertainties.
Irainian artists Morteza Khaleghi and Parham Ghalamdar will work collaboratively in film and animation. Manchester based Parham Ghalamdar will be creating a series of short animations, imagining a site at the border and creating short epigramic stories depicting how the issue of crossing borders is often held in suspension and uncertainty. Khalegi’s film will be showing the life of his friend Massud, who has been stranded in the Greek Island of Samo in a refugee camp, far from his former life as a tattoo artist in Iran.
Mandla Rae has lived in the UK for twenty years and they have not been allowed to travel outside of the country since they arrived. In this new performance, Mandla will explore intervention through conversations with the commissioned artists in this new work exploring disassociation, travel anxiety and those who travelled before Mandla came into existence.
The project aims to focus on the positive impact of creative integration through art and culture, helping to forge a new sense of identity and place (both locally and Europe-wide) with a strong focus on young people’s experiences and reflections at a time of significant change for Europe.
Find out more about the artists:
Commissioned by Journeys Festival International as part of Liberty EU programme funded by Creative Europe.
Freedom of Movement Curated by Mandla Rae