SPECIAL GUESTS ANNOUNCED: Mavis Makhaza from GM Immigration Aid Unit and WAST (Women Asylum Speakers Together), plus Tony Openshaw from ASHA (Asylum Support Housing Advice) will speak about their work in relation to the exhibition
at Z-ARTS 6th-29th June 2013, including Launch Event at 6pm on 6th June
Exhibition opening times are 5pm – 9pm weekdays, 10am – 4pm Saturdays, closed Sundays.
Committed to Represent
An exhibition of photography and texts as a series of portable panels by the Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit, in partnership with Virtual Migrants
How does the legal work of the GMIAU help refugees to rebuild their lives? What motivates the caseworkers? How do refugees respond to the challenges that the asylum system throws at them?
This exhibition is a celebration of the work that caseworkers do and a testament to the courage of refugees and people seeking asylum.
Design and direction by Kooj Chuhan. Research and text by Ursula Sharma. Photography by Mazaher.
Refusing The Refused
A short film created for ASHA (Asylum Support Housing Advice) from footage of a training workshop on Asylum Destitution on 22nd February 2013, a Virtual Migrants production by Kooj Chuhan
Destitution effectively means poverty and mental suffering at a chronic level, and this workshop involved a range of strong and emotive presentations and dialogues on the experience of destitution among people seeking asylum, the legal and wider political framework for this, and what kinds of support and action can be possible.
ASHA helps asylum seekers whose applications have been refused and fully determined, and whose status renders them homeless and destitute.
Both of these pieces of work are still ‘in development’. They involve intersecting elements of documentary, community portraiture, campaigning and education. This is an integral part of Virtual Migrants’ critical practice in artistic, media and cultural work.
Accompanying these works is an exhibition of paintings by Elizabeth Kwant, titled Tracing Presence. This comprises a series of large-scale portraits developed during her Artist’s in Residence with The Boaz Trust, a charity working to help destitute asylum seekers in Manchester.
6th-29th June at Z-arts, 335 Stretford Road, Manchester M15 5ZA
An exhibition to coincide with Refugee Week 17-23 June 2013
This short, simple and direct performance was used to start off the BME Communities and Climate Change Conference. It was devised and scripted by Kooj Chuhan (Virtual Migrants), and performed by Kooj Chuhan and Michelle Ayavoro:
Part of the BME Communities and Climate Change Conference organised by Manchester BME Network in partnership with its members, MC-UK, Creative Hands and Salford Refugee Network, Manchester, 22nd March 2013. Here are some extracts from the conference just to give a brief flavour of some of the presentations:
Blog from virtual migrant’s Sai Murray on the ludicrousness of celebrity charity, featuring “Red Nose Day” by fellow VM member Aidan Jolly.
ANNA GALKINA – Platform
JAYA GRAVES – Southern Voices
DEYIKA NZERIBE – Hulme Green Party
MARC HUDSON – Steady State Manchester
ARWA ABURAWA – Manchester Climate Monthly
KOOJ CHUHAN (chair) – Virtual MigrantsThe ‘Passenger’ performance will involve Virtual Migrants’ artists:SAI MURRAY (poetry/spoken word)
AIDAN JOLLY (music)
TRACEY ZENGENI (vocals)
TANHA MEHRZAD (multimedia projection/poetry)www.virtualmigrants.comPlatform (London) are a social justice organisation combining Arts, Activism, Education and Research. For more info on The Oil Road and their work including the campaign for justice in the Niger delta, Remember Saro-Wiwa see http://platformlondon.org/.*****************************************************a preceding event at the same venue as a part of “The Oil Road” launch in Manchester is:MANUFACTURED LANDSCAPES
Another excellent article by Rahnuma Ahmed connecting BP oil corruption with the CIA-MI6 intrusion into Iran in 1953 where they overthrew the democratic regime led by then Prime Minister Dr Mosaddeq and replaced it with their puppet dictator. One of the points made by Ahmed relates to the current challenges to BP by artists and activists about:
“…the “social legitimacy” which high-profile cultural organisations such as Tate Gallery bestow on big oil companies by entering into partnerships. They distract attention from their “impacts on human rights, the environment and the global climate.” True, but no mention of Mosaddeq and BP’s role in the 1953 coup. An oversight? Or, a callous indifference about the nation’s imperial history, one which continues in the present?”
This seems like one very clear example of UK climate activists focusing on issues that can more easily win support from their ‘obvious’ sympathetic contingents, yet ignore the hard political edges of imperialism. Is this something Virtual Migrants might pursue with the forthcoming book release of “The Oil Road” by Platform?
Iranian prime minister Mohammad Mosaddeq (1951-1953), popular and democratically-elected, overthrown in a coup orchestrated by the CIA and MI6 because he wanted to nationalise Iranian oil
Virtual Migrants presents
BUY THIS (v3) + RUNNING ORDER
video installation + performance
climate justice, race and migrant-refugee voices
at the Creative Corner Café, 14 Milton Grove, Whalley Range, Manchester M16 0BP, UK
a part of Chorlton Arts Festival. Admission free.
‘Buy This (v3)’ installation – Thursday 17-Saturday 19th May 2012, 10am-7pm except Friday to 9.30pm
‘Running Order’ live performance – only on Friday 18th May 2012, 7.30-8.30pm.
Running Order performance (Passenger 10)
a Virtual Migrants performance by artists Tracey Zengeni, Sai Murai, Razia Mohamed, Aidan Jolly, Tanha Mehrzad and Kooj Chuhan
Connecting the climate with US wars, UK policing and the refugee experience is a challenge for aspiring radio presenter Amira. A semi-improvised performance full of songs and poetry from contrasting geographies including Zimbabwe, Iran and the UK, performed in dialogue with the audience and accompanying the ‘Buy This’ video installation. ‘Running Order’ is the latest in the ‘Passenger’ series of events, involving the installation as an integral component.
7.30pm, Friday 18th May.
Admission free – come early to be sure of a seat
Buy This (v3) video installation
Thurs 17th–Sat 19th May 2012, 10am-7pm on Thursday and Saturday, 10am-9.30pm on Friday 18th.
There are some incredible and devastating predictions for the future levels of displaced people due to climate change. A recent issue of Forced Migration Review (#31) began to map out these issues in a useful way yet when you look at the range of articles you are left with a sense that this field is struggling to gain a proper framework; a question for a group like ours is on the role for UK artists with an initial UK audience in response to this, and its relationship to other political positions regarding refugee and migrant issues. Issues of resource depletion are directly affecting many originating lands of diaspora communities but the immediate pre-occupations of anti-racist and migrant groups seem to have left them forever on a back-burner. The potential urgency such communities could bring to the debate could be enormous. This project challenges us as politically engaged artists to disentangle, reposition and debate these pressing realities in a public forum.
This blog has just been set up by Kooj from Virtual Migrants (www.virtualmigrants.com), for The Centre Cannot Hold, a non-limited project about Climate Change and Imperialism.
There is a keynote paper by Kooj Chuhan, titled “Tolerating Mass Murder”, outlining our starting points for this investigation. You can read it HERE – comments/discussions are welcome.
An outline of the first stage of this project, currently focused at The Arnolfini in Bristol (UK), is as follows.
‘The Centre Cannot Hold (part 1)‘
by Virtual Migrants
Installation with performances and direct dialogues exploring climate imperialism
THEME / SUBJECT
The project will explore two critical, under-developed, poorly represented and inter-related areas:
(a) the ways in which Climate Change is a continuation of imperialist processes that have been active for a few hundred years. Destruction of human beings along with their environment on a large scale is nothing new, and climate change is perhaps the most sanitised way in which ‘third’ economies will be decimated by the omnipresent culture of greed led by the first economies.
(b) The perceptions of migrant, ‘third sector’ and diaspora people and groups in the UK, particularly of activists, and their counterparts in ‘third’ economies of the world. Active engagement of such groups with climate change particularly in the context of imperialism and racism appears to be embryonic at best, because of other continually pressing issues which are always of higher priority such as more direct racism, immediate survival and resistance. The potential of such groups beginning to discuss such narratives and forming linkages around such issues could be significant. Integrating with perspectives on class inequality and poverty is also critically relevant.
These areas are difficult, and this project will not pretend to be able to create work that is conclusive within this timescale. Rather, Virtual Migrants intends to continue this exploration and discussion over the next few years, with work being produced at various intervals of which the exhibition and events at the Arnolfini will be the first landmark stop on this journey.
FORM – aesthetics
The work will focus on the aesthetics of words, spoken and written, with an emphasis on immediacy and direct connection with the source of those words. Activists will be speaking directly about current situations, ideas, thoughts and activities as a part of the presentations. We want to minimise the amount of interpretation which artists would normally introduce to such work, and allow such non-performers and non-artists to become a part of work with integrated cultural, aesthetic and political meaning.
There are many examples across the world throughout history where popular consumption of words, both of their depth of meaning as well as of their beauty, has been an essential part of cultures which can more easily be critical and engage in discussion. Our approach is to encourage directness, anti-packaging, and active engagement with rather than passive consumerism of such narratives.
We intend to use musical and digital visuals to create audio-visual environments that reflect both historical and contemporary sensibilities, rhythms, and contexts in which these direct narratives can be enriched. These will inevitably be simple and complex at the same time, and will continually change and evolve during the period of installation.