Category Archives: climate

#Bangladesh and #climate change – 10th March, #Manchester meeting

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 .

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Performed News at the BME Climate Change Conference

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:

 

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CRUDE KILLINGS: climate, race, poverty – event on 28th November 2012

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DISCUSSION, PERFORMANCE + BOOK LAUNCH
a free event by Virtual Migrants, Weds 28th November 6 – 8pm

BEHIND OIL: Multi-billion dollar corporate oil activities are almost entirely hidden, sanitised, absent from history and consciousness.
We think we know about oil, but we don’t. Its not just what we use it for, more than that its about extreme power and control by companies and states over our lives, minds, environment, culture, economies and austerities…

at International Anthony Burgess Foundation, 3 Cambridge Street, Engine House, Chorlton Mill, Manchester M1 5BY
Book your place at www.crudekillings.eventbrite.co.uk (registration is strongly advised to be sure of entry)

Virtual Migrants present the latest of their ‘Passenger’ events using live music and spoken word, plus a panel discussion in response to Platform’s new book The Oil Road.The Oil Road, quotes BP – the fourth largest company in the world – describing their operations as “Safe, Silent & Unseen”, but we need both to “see” and to “hear” at whose expense are their billions of dollars of annual profits.This event by Virtual Migrants with support from Platform will explore the themes of the book and ask, “How does the sanitisation of difficult, violent processes and imperialist histories inform the fight for climate justice today?”The panel includes:JAMES MARRIOTT – Platform & co-author of the book
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

– film screening by MANCHESTER FILM CO-OPERATIVEJennifer Baichwal’s compelling documentary of photographer Ed Burtynsky’s voyage of discovery in today’s industrial China.Tuesday 27th November, doors open 7.30pmAdmission £3 waged/£2 unwagedwww.manchesterfilm.coop
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Iran, Mosaddeq, BP Oil, Tate Gallery, climate destruction and the CIA-MI6

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?

http://www.shahidulnews.com/2012/08/13/part-i-fifty-ninth-anniversary-of-cia-mi6-coup/#more-12698

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

BUY THIS (v3) + RUNNING ORDER : video installation + performance

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
a Virtual Migrants video installation led by artist Kooj Chuhan
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.

Thurs 17th–Sat 19th May 2012, 10am-7pm on Thursday and Saturday, 10am-9.30pm on Friday 18th.

A cultural-political-arts project on climate imperialism

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.