Moving People: Africa-Asia Interface

on Migration/ Refugee/ Exile/ Diaspora

@Culture, a network of independent artists and cultural organisations from India, with Focus on Global South; Centre for Creative Arts (UKZN), Durban; GoDown Arts Centre and Kwani Trust, Nairobi – has put together a combination of events to be conducted during the World Social Forum 2007 at Nairobi between January 20 to 25, 2007. The programme is titled Moving People: Africa-Asia Interface on Migration/ Refugee/ Exile/ Diaspora.

The programme features seminars, visual arts, film festivals, video installations and performances, attempting to provide a composite view of culture and its position in political dialogue. The theme explores various facets and junctions of the commonalities between Africa and Asia, and includes migration, exile, refugee, diaspora, land and land alienation, slavery and colonialism, located through the thematic prism of ‘Moving People’.

More on @Culture and the project

The Programme

Follow the Arrows: Investigating Movement, Video & Art show

This multidisciplinary art show presents over 45 works on courses charted by movement of people across Africa and Asia. Set on an improvised caravan, the show reflects the motion and uprootedness in its subjects &endash; the migrants, the displaced, the refugees and the exiled. Included are installations, videos, photographs, prints and a video game, which map the geographies of conflicts that govern movement. Between slavery records and family pictures, desert graves and migrant shacks, missing people’s lists and homeland music &endash; a series of narratives of exclusions and assertions emerge.

Memories in Transit, Collaborative Sculpture Tableaux

Three artists from Africa and three artists from Asia worked together in Nairobi, to create portable sculptures. Two of them, (one each from either continent) are artisans skilled in the use of traditional methods and media for creating light weight structures. The collaborative works that were produced in the ten day camp are a mix of traditional and contemporary concepts and approaches of cultural production.

The mobile nature of the artworks embodies the idea of transit and forced movement among the people of the world. The use of traditional and junk material in the project is an attempt to counter the invasion of homogenizing market forces into the world of art.

Moving People Film Festival

An international film festival which presents moving stories of migration, exile, displacement and exploitation on film selected by four curators from two continents. The 24 films that are being shown between 21st and 24th January 2007, have been curated by Monica Rorvik of the Durban International Film Festival, Martin Mhando of the Zanzibar International Film Festival, Gargi Sen of Magic Lantern Foundation, India, and Khaled Elayyan of the Al-Kasaba International Film Festival, Palestine.

More on the Film Festival

Poetry Africa: Poetic Perspectives on Migration

Poetic Perspectives on Migration is a satellite project of the Poetry Africa festival, of Centre for Creative Arts (UKZN, Durban, South Africa). It offers a powerful experiential dimension, as a mix of distinctive east and southern African voices dynamically express and explore the complexities of migration through the vivid language of poetry and performance.

Return to Sender – In Letters from Tentland, six Iranian actresses captured the audience with their anger, their wishes and dreams, but also their call for tolerance and cultural difference – performed 43 times in 17 countries, this piece was banned in Iran in 2005. In Return to Sender, six exiled Iranian women formulate a passionate plea for freedom.

Centaurs is based on a text by Heiner Müller, Die Kentauren, which in turn is a variation of Kafka’s Metamorphosis is interleaved with passages from Mahmood Mamdani’s Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: America, the Cold War, and the Roots of Terror. Centaurs reflects the shifts in the notion of identity in an era where the term ‘nation’ is equated with ‘religion’ and ‘security’ with ‘surveillance’.

Migritude explores global themes – heritage, war, freedom – by making intimate family treasures public. Similarly, it expresses universal experiences of colonised peoples through the journeys of the performer’s own diasporic Indian family. Shailja Patel is an Asian African poet and theater artist.

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