Workshop One, 5 October 2016, Keele University
Saradha Soobrayen studied Live Arts, Visual Arts and Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University. She is a passionate advocate for Libraries, Poetry and Human Rights and has worked as a Poetry Editor for the LGBT Chroma Journal and as a Reviews Editor and Trustee for Modern Poetry in Translation. The Guardian named Saradha as one of the ‘Twelve to watch’, up and coming new generation of poets. She received an Eric Gregory Award in 2004 and was the poet representing Mauritius as part of the Southbank Center Poetry Parnassus Festival.
Robert Hampson has been Professor of Modern Literature at Royal Holloway, University of London, since 2000. A Conrad scholar and critic, he has a long-term involvement with contemporary innovative poetry as editor, critic and practitioner. His own poetry publications include Assembled Fugitives: Selected Poems 1973-1998 (Stride, 2000), Seaport (Shearsman, 2008), an explanation of colours (Veer, 2010), and sonnets 4 sophie (pushtika, 2015). Reworked Disasters (Knivesforksand spoons, 2013) was long-listed for the Forward Prize.
James Sheard, lecturer at Keele University, has been writing and publishing poetry for over 20 years. His 2003 pamphlet Hotel Mastbosch won the Ictus Prize, and was the Poetry Book Society’s Pamphlet Choice for that year. His collection Scattering Eva (Cape, 2005) was shortlisted for both the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and the Glen Dimplex Award for Poetry. His 2010 collection Dammtor was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation.
Walking with Thaer (2008)
Walking with Thaer was undertaken as part of the ‘Transnational Communities: Towards a Sense of Belonging’ project funded by the AHRC. Thaer led John on a walk from a space he called home in the city of Nottingham to a special place, mapping the spaces and places along the way that were important to Thaer. The process of walking and talking opened up a relational and dialogic space where embodied knowledge, the relationship between the visual, other senses, and memories were shared. The photographs and the narrative help us to see the importance of memories, that the past is ‘right here, in the midst of the present’ (Maggie O’Neill), and that the stories told here also ‘leap forward’ and help to ‘map the future’ (ibid.). In looking at the minutiae, what is ordinarily overlooked, we can often reach a better understanding of the bigger picture – towards a radical democratic imaginary.
John Perivolaris has received commissions to work on major photographic projects in the UK and internationally. Often collaborative, his projects use photography, text, and related media to reflect on diasporic states of being. Revealing how places are layered by time, his work is concerned with how the past is regenerated, the existential use of knowledge and memory, and how meaning is formed through migration, travel and our attachment to specific locations.
Poetic Responses to Contemporary Migrations
A selection of prose and poetry by Keele Creative writing students engaging with contemporary migration.
Workshop Two, 12 April 2017, “L’Asilo” – Naples
Over the fifteen years of her practice, Sedira has enriched the debate around the concepts of modernism, modernity and its manifestations in an inclusive way.
She has also raised awareness of artistic expression and the contemporary experience in North Africa. She found inspiration initially in researching her identity as a woman with a singular personal geography. From these autobiographical concerns she gradually shifted her interest to more universal ideas of mobility, memory and transmission. Full of her fascination for the relationship between mother and daughter, her video Mother Tongue (2002), depicts three generations of women and raises the issue of transmission in a globalized world.
Sedira has also addressed environmental and geographical issues, negotiating between both past and future (Floating Coffins, 2009). Using portraits, landscapes, language and archival research, she has developed a polyphonic vocabulary, spanning fiction, documentary and more poetic and lyrical approaches (Saphir, 2006; MiddleSea, 2008; Lighthouse in the Sea of Time, 2011). Sedira has worked in installation, photography, film, video and she has recently returned to object-making (Sugar Routes, 2013).
Preserving and transmitting memories of the past in order to leave a legacy for the future has often been at the core of Sedira’s work.
Zineb Sedira was born in Paris. She lives in London and works between Algiers, Paris and London. Her work was shown in solo exhibitions including The Photographer’s Gallery (London, 2006); Wapping Project (London, 2008); New Art Exchange (Nottingham, 2009); Pori Museum (Finland, 2009); BildMuseets (Sweden, 2010); Kunsthalle Nikolaj (Copenhagen, 2010); the Palais de Tokyo (Paris, 2010); the [mac] musée d’Art contemporain (Marseille, 2010); the Blaffer Art Museum, University of Houston; Prefix – Institute of Contemporary Art (Toronto, 2010); the Charles H. Scott Gallery in Vancouver and the Blaffer Art Museum, Houston (2013); VCUQ Gallery, Doha and Art On the Underground, London (2016). Her work was also shown in many group shows in institutions such as Tate Britain (London, 2002); Centre Pompidou (Paris, 2004, 2009); Mori Museum (Tokyo, 2005); Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art (Gateshead, 2005); Musée d’Art Moderne of Alger (2007); Brooklyn Museum (New York, 2007); Mathaf (Qatar, 2010); the Contemporary Art Center (Thessaloniki, 2011); the Tate Britain, London, UK; the MuCEM and the Friche de la Belle de Mai (Marseille, 2013); the Gwangju Museum of Art (South Korea); the Centre Pompidou-Metz (France, 2013); the MMK Museum für Mordern Kunst (Germany, 2014); the Power Plant, Contemporary Art Gallery (Toronto); Smithsonian National Museum of African Art (Washington, 2015); the Guggenheim (NY), Whitechapel Gallery (London) and Studio Museum, (NY 2016) as well as in biennials and triennials, including the Venice Biennale (2001 and 2011), the triennial for photography and video at the ICP (New York, 2003), the Sharjah Biennale (2003 and 2007) and the Folkestone Triennial (2011).
Sedira is the founder of aria (artist residency in algiers), a residency program to support the development of the contemporary art scene in Algeria through international cross-cultural exchanges and collaborations.
Where We Are Now (2017)
Documentary and portrait photographer Kate Stanworth presents nuanced personal narratives of migration as an alternative to mainstream media depictions of migrants and refugees.
Over the past year the British photographer has created a series of documentary portraits of individuals who left their homes in Africa and the Middle East months or years previously to start new lives in Germany, Austria and Italy. She spent time getting to know people and recording their stories as well as photographing their everyday lives, and where possible working with their own smart phone documentation of their journeys.
As well as portraying her protagonists in the new, often transitory spaces they now find themselves in, the project focuses on the psychological survival techniques migrants use: the re-framing and re-invention of their stories and the search for metaphors and narratives that help them find purpose through difficult and disorienting times.
Kate Stanworth is a London-based photographer specialising in documentary and portrait photography. She has undertaken commissions and personal projects in the UK, Europe, South America and Africa.
In the book Off the Record: An Oral History of Popular Music, B.B. King said: “People all over the world have problems, and as long as people have problems, the blues can never die”. The blues is not only a musical and poetic language: it is the story of people who have been forcibly uprooted from their land, their families, their familiar environment, and relocated into a new world; it is a raucous sound that echoes in the emptiness, and reminds us where we come from and where we are bound. This reading offers a selection of poems that express or mirror my experience of migrant poet in South Africa, a country where misfortune and celebration, joy and sorrow sit side by side. In blues poetry there is a hint of happiness in every cry of pain: these blues poems are stories of loss, nostalgia, grief and memory, but they are also stories of survival, endurance, struggle, hope and human resilience. Central to the idea of blues performance is the concept that, by performing or listening to the blues, one is able to overcome sadness and find happiness again. Therefore, in Wynton Marsalis’s words, this poetry reading aims at speaking of “affirmation with absolute elegance”.
Raphael D’Abdon was born in Udine (Italy) and lives in Pretoria (South Africa). He is the author of two poetry collections, sunnyside nightwalk (Geko, 2013) and salt water (Poetree Publishing, 2016), and has edited the volumes I nostri semi – Peo tsa rona. Poeti sudafricani del post-apartheid (Mangrovie, 2008), and Marikana. A Moment in Time (Geko, 2013). His poems have been published in journals and volumes, including: Illuminations, The Mamba. Journal of Africa Haiku Network, New Coin, New Contrast, The Palestine Chronicle, Picaroon Poetry, Sagarana, Semicerchio, Splinters of a Mirage Dawn. An Anthology of Migrant Poetry from South Africa, Stanzas, SunStruck. He has performed his poetry at various events, including: The Chinua Achebe Colloquium (Brown University, USA); ANA (Association of Nigerian Authors, Abuja); Poetry Africa (Durban); National Arts Festival (Grahamstown); Maya Angleou Tribute (Johannesburg), UNISA Summer School on Decoloniality. He is a lecturer at the English Studies Department of UNISA and teaches at the Mzansi Poetry Academy.
Gabriele Cipolla at “L’Asilo”, Naples, 12 April 2017
With the worsening of the migratory crisis caused by the war in Syria, Hungary, Serbia and Macedonia close their borders to thousands of people, interrupting one of the oldest migratory route: the Balkan route. In Greece, along the Macedonian border, men, women, and children are gathered in the camps, setting an immense tend city, where NGO, volunteers and activists challenge the mafia system of the traffickers of human beings.
Echoes draws a limbo where the desperation of a suspended future is contrasted by an obstinate and vital resistance, paying particular attention to the day preceding the eviction of Eko Station, the only informal camp left in the north of Greece.
Through the frequencies of a pirate radio, rebellious words and songs are echoed beyond the silence of the Fortress Europe.
Gabriele Cipolla. Born 1984, he lives and works in Milan. After attending the New Academy of Fine Arts in Milan, he improves his skills as a filmmaker by studying screening and as a director of photography at the school of cinema ‘Luchino Visconti’. His field of research goes from cinema to visual arts, and at the same time he works in the field of commercials and experimentation, with independent audio-visual projects. Since 2012, GC teaches filmic post-production and director techniques at the School of cinema ‘Luchino Visconti’ and the NABA University.
Lampemusa is a show based on songs and storytelling. It is about the story of Lampedusa, from the colonisation of the island in 1843 to its recent growing militarisation, its stories of fishing, the island’s main economic resource until the 80s, its histories of migration. The show also narrates the “epic” tradition of Lampedusa: Ludovico Ariosto chose this island as the setting for the fighting between three Christians and three Sarracins; then Lampedusa was a prison where anarchists, like Enrico Malatesta, were confined; and more recently it has also become a military base. Lampemusa offers also a picture of the local stories, which Sferlazzo has collected from the old people, most of them linked to some historical places such as the Sanctuary of Porto Salvo’s Madonna, where Muslims and Christians had prayed together for centuries.
Drawing from the tradition of the Sicilian storytellers, Sferlazzo plays the guitar, the “marranzano”, the percussions, and other instruments he himself invented.
Giacomo Sferlazzo is a political activist from Lampedusa, songwriter, and a re-assembler of matter, colours, objects, photos, waste. He has made four records as songwriter, with Jacopo Andreini he has realised an album of experimental music, “Nella pancia della Balena” (In the belly of the whale). For years he has searched for stories and memories about Lampedusa, thus gathering them in his show Lampemusa, based on songs and narrations about the different stories of migration that have crossed the island. In 2009 he founded the collective Askavusa, with which he organises the Lampedusainfestival and realised Porto M, a multifunctional space where the objects of the migrants landing in the island, are exposed, after being salvaged from the cemetery of the boats by Askavusa.
This was a work-in-progress and collective action around an installation set on the Theatre’s stage, proposed by the artist as a creative engagement with pebbles. It was a circle, made with the remains left by the sea, evoking the Mediterranean. Inside it there was a heap of pebbles, which were progressively inscribed with words by people from the audience and then placed out of the circle. The installation prompted to rethink about naming and border crossings.
Eclectic artist, coming from the Neapolitan punk and underground movement, he has explored art in different directions and laguages, from painting and sculpture to photography, performance and installation, using different, often recycled, materials. Ulderico’s artistic practice articulates the idea according to which “art does not exist to decorate the walls, it is rather an offensive and defensive instrument, it is a style, an ethics, a politics, a life in experiment”.
Ulderico is the embassy of the international art show “Berlinapoli”, co-counder of the underground movement “Area”, and founder of “Artestesa”, an annual art fair in Naples. In 1989 he participated in the memorable occupation of the “Tienamment”, an abandoned edifice in the Neapolitan outskirts, which became a space for independent culture and local and international art encounters. He has collaborated with different independent galleries and artistic laboratories, among which “Studio Aperto Multimediale”, “Teatro Spazio Libero”, “Cielo celeste, emporio spirituale”, “Dissociazione culturale”, and with the art group “Eretici Sfrattati”.