In 2016 the following projects benefited from The Arab British Centre grants:
At Home in Gaza and in London
At Home in Gaza and London is a Station House Opera performance project produced by Pressure Cooker Arts and Artsadmin that uses digital technologies to bring together the lives of people in two locations separated by great political, economic and physical divides. By using a mix of live-streaming and recorded video, a single performance space is created where artists work together. They occupy each other’s homes, streets and other social spaces to share their everyday behaviour and concerns, as they dissolve into each other or become ghostly protagonists in the drama. By exploring the ideas and practicalities of home, the realities of life in Gaza and London, they become the medium for an expression of physical existence liberated by global communication. Adapting the simple video technologies available in places with limited internet or technical resources, At Home in Gaza and London opens a new way for artists to engage with each other across the world, allows audiences to participate and meet, and presents a direct and personal response to the problems of Gaza and its isolation.
Baqoun are a talented Christian Palestinian Dance Troupe, based in Beit Sahour (a small town close to Bethlehem). Baqoun started as a small group of young people who loved ‘Dabke’. In 2007, they began presenting folklore dancing in Palestine for local foreign audiences. Baqoun now has about 50 members – all of them are young people aged between 13 and 21, most of whom are students at school or university. They present traditional Palestinian dancing in a modern way, including a small element of theatre. They are entirely self-funded from their performances. The troupe visited the UK in June 2016. The centrepiece of their UK visit programme consisted of celebration events, with venues in all five episcopal areas of the Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales, plus Beverley Minster. The events combined dance, food, movement, celebration and drama in wonderful evenings of entertainment as they shared their stories about life in Palestine today.
Out of Place
Out of Place / Far from Here is a pilot project with a vision to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere in schools in London for new arrivals, as well as providing a platform for children in Syria to tell their story to an empathic audience. The project builds on the Tower Hamlets Schools Library Service’s annual creative writing competition for Key Stages 2-5, and extends the competition to schools based in Syria, leading to a bi-lingual Arabic-English publication for and by children. Currently we have 9 schools participating in Syria (3 in Duma; 4 in Idlib; and 3 in Beit Sawa). The publication will be a collation of the winning contributions from both the Syrian and British cohorts, real and imagined, and will be distributed to participating schools in Tower Hamlets and Syria, with a view to engaging pupils in a process of reading, discussing, interpreting and analysing the contributions of their counterparts, using tried and tested Global Learning methodology.
Buy the Book at www.amazon.com
‘Chapter 31’ 5 August – 3 September 2016 at P21 Gallery, London. This exhibition is a dazzling journey into the future of Palestine – through both utopian and dystopian visions of what lies ahead – in film, sculpture, installation, collage, painting and performance. ‘Chapter 31’ is the result of years spent by curators Mai Kanaaneh and Nadia Jaglom living between Europe and Palestine and the conversations and encounters this inspired. The exhibition takes its title from a chapter in a satirical novel by celebrated Palestinian author Emile Habibi, in which an alien invasion allows the protagonist to consider the impact of Israeli colonisation on the Palestinians who have remained behind in historic Palestine. At a time of heightened violence and the entrenchment of Israeli occupation, when many Palestinians feel disillusioned with the current leadership and political solutions being presented to them, Palestinian artists are now increasingly turning to the theme of the future. ‘Chapter 31’ provided a space in which some of the most imaginative and experimental of these visions were explored.
You can read an Ibraaz article about Chapter 31 Exhibition here
Based on real-life accounts collected from Syrian refugees, aid workers, activists, journalists and photographers, Spring Reign features live performance, video, original music performed by Chris Davies, and frontline photography by Musa Chowdhury. Devised by the company and scripted by award winning writer Rob Johnston it is produced and directed by Benedict Power. Spring Reign will tour venues throughout the UK in 2017 with the aim of reflecting the frustration and suffering of the Syrian people, whilst engaging with a more personal human crisis than the one presented in the daily news. The project has been extensively researched in association with Manchester based Syrian community group Rethink Rebuild Society, and developed into a full-length professional production with the support of Arts Council England, The Lowry Studio and Imperial War Museum North, amongst others. The performance also hopes to raise awareness of the UK registered charity, Syria Relief, and organisation, established to provide humanitarian aid to Syria.
Sudan Emergence of Singularities
Sudan: Emergence of Singularities is the first and most exciting Sudanese contemporary art exhibition in the UK from established and emerging artists, writers and intellectuals as well as special guests whose works are related to Sudan. Curated by Frederique Cifuentes, the programme will examine the artistic development of Sudan, a country, which is often ignored by the general media, art critics and galleries in the UK and worldwide and unknown to the general public. Sudan is in the centre of Frederique Cifuentes’ work as a photographer, documentary filmmaker and project manager for the last 14 years. In putting this project together, she has chosen talents who are at the forefront of this contemporary expression and whose art is innovative and fundamental. Though this exhibition is not exhaustive, artists and cultural partners from diverse media were selected on the quality and consistency of their work, the impact and contribution to Sudanese society and prospective interactions on the international creative scene. 23 March – 6 May 2017, P21 Gallery London.