The Threepenny Festival Association, Virtual Migrants, Rainbow Collective, Voices That Shake!, with the London Mining Network and War On Want created an artist led intervention in the protest outside the BHP-Billiton Annual General Meeting in London on October 19th. A map representing villages displaced by the Cerrejón open cast mine was created and rolled out in front of the entrance to the conference hall, leaving shareholders with the choice of confronting or dodging their complicity. The film was made alongside this process, documenting the struggle of the WaYúu people, and calling for action.
Following our recent tour, here is a photo gallery of Continent Chop Chop as it was performed in Leeds, all photos by Max Farrar. We are going to add more updates about that tour as time goes on, as well as details of what we are currently developing. For full details of the Continent Chop Chop project, go to http://virtualmigrants.net/continent-chop-chop/ or locate the project in the drop down menu above.
Click on any image to view the photos in a nice and cool large-size slideshow.
NNIMMO BASSEY is an award-winning African climate activist and poet: we want to make a film about his work and how it connects with austerity, refugees and our wider realities. Please spread the word about our crowdfunding campaign, or donate yourself if you can:
This film will be more than a film about a strong and critically important activist – which is worthwhile in itself. It will also connect Nnimmo’s work with immediate headline issues concerning many of us – austerity and refugees – and so will join some of the dots which many environmental films do not. [Read more…]
Selected posts by Kooj Chuhan recently on Virtual Migrants’ Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/VirtualMigrants :
Poster Film Collective cultural consciousness in the 80s
Whose World Is The World by Poster Film Collective cultural consciousness in the 80s. Any parallels now? http://poster-collective.org.uk/whoseworld/index.php
These posters were often in the youth clubs and community centres that we worked in, running creative, campaigning and discussion activities focused on anti-racist and suppressed historical ideas and knowledge. They gave a continuity in the environment that the people who used the building could continue to reflect on after the activities and workshops, in an immediate and visual way without too much text clutter. I really think we need this kind of stuff again in our physical environment, maybe the digital world makes us forget these possibilities?
Migrant crisis: tackle the cause and not the symptom?
The Chance Or Choice report suggests long term answer lies in [Read more…]
This weekend on 1st Nov 2014 the ‘Doh Mix Meh Up’ Exhibition in Oxford presents video art titled “Buy This (v3)” on race-migration-climate issues by Kooj Chuhan / Virtual Migrants.
The ‘Doh Mix Meh Up’ exhibition
‘Doh Mix Meh Up’ – Diaspora and Identity in Art
A free one-day exhibition and performance programme exploring the role of the arts in understanding, expressing and experiencing diaspora.
1st November 2014, 3pm – 10pm
‘Exploring Diaspora through [Read more…]
Important and critical article by Arun Gupta, ‘How the People’s Climate March Became a Corporate PR Campaign’, originally published at http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/09/19/how-the-peoples-climate-march-became-a-corporate-pr-campaign/ .
I’ve never been to a protest march that advertised in the New York City subway. That spent $220,000 on posters inviting Wall Street bankers to join a march to save the planet, according to one source. That claims you can change world history in an afternoon after walking the dog and eating brunch.
( … )
The 2-screen installation ‘Buy This (v3)’ created with support from Virtual Migrants as part of their Centre Cannot Hold ongoing exploration of climate imperialism, was re-formatted as a single screen artists’ video and toured Canada as part of the Monitor 9 programme by SAVAC (South Asian Visual Arts Centre) in Toronto. We now have this video installation art archived by Vtape, a non-profit distribution and resource centre in Toronto. Vtape is the leading distributor for video art in Canada, established in 1980. They represent a collection of over 5000 titles, accessible to artists, curators and educators.
The original ‘Buy This (v1) installation was more complex and interactive, exhibited at The Arnolfini in Bristol (2009) as a part of the ‘C Words’ exhibition about climate justice. This later non-interactive video-based version (v3) was premiered at the first Platforma Festival in December 2011 as a proper 2-screen installation followed by Manchester’s local Chorlton Arts Festival in 2012, and then in 2013 toured a few venues in Canada courtesy of South Asian Visual Arts Centre (Toronto) as part of Monitor 9 with the two screens compiled into a single screen for ease of exhibition, and then also at No.W.Here Gallery in London.
Although this work has been screened as a single video stream, it is best viewed using two separate projectors as an installation because the intention is that the two screens loop at different rates so that the imagery juxtaposition continually changes. Here is the original description of the work:
Buy This (v3) video installation
by artist Kooj (Kuljit) Chuhan, 2012, a part of an ongoing exploration by Virtual Migrants artists’ group
Year of completion: 2012
Country of production: UK
Running time: 6 mins 20 secs as a continual loop
Refugees and ‘third-world’ migrants bring with them intimate and undervalued knowledge about climate change. ‘Buy This’ juxtaposes such voices on one screen against another, over-saturated with colliding imagery of wars, colonial struggles, environmental upheaval and UK racism, overlaid with scrolling news messages.
An exploration of how environmental change is integral to the economic and political forces bringing about human displacement and racial inequality, and a continuation of the “Centre Cannot Hold” project discussing climate imperialism and the violent commodification of humans and the environment.
Increasing numbers of people in the UK are sceptical of man-made climate change, outnumbering those who accept climate change as man-made. Many local members of refugee communities have recent personal experiences and observations from their originating countries which are able to testify to environmental change. By enabling local refugees to express first-hand observations from countries they have recently migrated from, collaborating with scientists and social scientists to discuss their data, local people can intimately appreciate changing conditions in other countries. At the same time, it is an opportunity to raise discussion in the UK about the global connections between race and climate, and also how they may impact on issues such as asylum in Europe and the West.
The media-saturated culture which we in the western world inhabit is a facet of a wider approach to (over-) consumption which has become the norm, and which is fundamental to ideas of maximising economic growth with the resultant process of murdering the planet’s resources and bringing about climate devastation. More than this, the arts, media and cultural sectors is largely complicit in nurturing false illusions and political amnesia, this ‘soft’ consumption of particular cultural and aesthetic meanings actually forms our ways of thinking, seals our disconnections, and this video work taunts the viewer to Buy This.
Manchester hosts an important meeting Monday 10th March on the subjects of climate change, food sovereignty and workers rights. A talk will be given by Badrul Alam, president of the Bangladesh Krishok Federation (the largest peasant federation in Bangladesh). It will be held at the Friends Meeting House, 6 Mount St, from 7pm.
Bangladesh is one of the areas of the world most vulnerable to climate change, sea levels rising faster than the global rate. Badrul Alam, president of the largest peasant federation in Bangladesh, has served on the international leadership of La Via Campesina. He is also a leader of a political organisation in Bangladesh which is a permanent observer to the Fourth International. The BKF are heavily involved in campaigning against climate change. They have organised a series of climate caravans across Bangladesh itself and other parts of Asia. A central part of that work is the promotion of food sovereignty as a sustainable alternative to agribusiness. The BKF were also involved in work around the Rana Plaza disaster in 2013 when an eight-story commercial building collapsed in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, leaving 1,129 dead (one of many events drawing attention to the appalling labour conditions which enable Western clothing companies to make large profits). This meeting is part of a tour that Badrul will be doing across Britain in the first two weeks of March. Organised by www.socialistresistance.org .
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.