Re-Presenting Refugees: discussion starting points

audience+mazThe discussion focus on 30th Oct 2013 is around representation, definition and mobilisation. Here follows a list of questions which Kooj is using as starting points:

– to what extent do or should the arts practices under a ‘refugee’ umbrella represent a distinct sector, what are its identifying characteristics and what can this achieve?

– what are the limitations or problems with such initiatives?

– how does such work support and progress wider discussions around support for refugees and human rights?

– the way people seeking refuge are treated continues to move towards tighter restrictions, reduced sympathy and rights, greater destitution, racism and xenophobia. Is art at its limit in being able to influence such developments, or does our game need to change?

– what kind of a sector is it or should it become – a loose movement or an organised set of voices?

– is there a challenge to established modes of practice that such work presents, and in what ways?

– what kinds of practice might be of particular importance in developing such a sector?

– presentation of arts works in relation to refugees can often label themselves and dig their own corner of predictable narratives and styles – which in turn can stereotype themselves. In what ways can arts practices avoid such predictability?

If anyone has any responses to these, feel free to add your comments by clicking on ‘reply’.


“Life Without Papers” wins Best Writing Award (cross-post from ASHA blog)

The following was originally posted on ASHA’s blog at  on October 17, 2013 by tonyopenshaw :

The blog project, “Life Without Papers”, created by Len Grant, features stories of undocumented migrant families and young people. Undocumented migrants have nothing. They are not allowed to work. They have no right to state benefits nor to a place to live. They are unseen and potentially the most vulnerable group in the UK today.

Undocumented (or irregular) migrants include those trafficked into the sex trade or for domestic servitude; they include visa overstayers; those whose asylum applications have been refused and others who have been subject to failures in the immigration system. All of these may originally have come to the UK legally.

‘Illegal immigrants’ – those imagined to have entered the country in Continue reading


RE-PRESENTING REFUGEES: discussion, performance, exhibition

90 Degree Citizen exhibition project:
Special Event on Weds 30th October, 6pm – 9pm, at Manchester Museum

>> RE-PRESENTING REFUGEES panel discussion <<
PASSENGER 12 multimedia performance <<
COMMITTED TO REPRESENT exhibition premiere – open to view from 5pm <<


A range of key speakers and artists explore critical issues around art, displacement and refugees.  As a dynamic movement, alternative practices and perspectives, cultural resistance or affirmation, political and historical contexts.  Open to the public on the eve of the Platforma national conference on arts and refugees.  A Virtual Migrants event .

Discussion begins 7.20pm – panel includes:

Flora Alexander – Iranian visual artist based in Glasgow
Yusra Warsama – poet, playwright and actor from Somalia
Tom Green – director of Platforma national network of arts and refugees
Humberto Velez – international visual, media and performance artist
Isobel Bowler – legal case worker at GM Immigration Aid Unit
Iseult Timmermans – artist and creative producer with refugee groups at Street Level Photoworks
Discussion chaired by Kooj Chuhan – artist and cultural producer; founder of Virtual Migrants and director of 90 Degree Citizen

Multimedia experimental performance: part 1 begins 7pm with part 2 after the discussion – includes artists:

Sai Murray (writer, poet, spoken word)
Maya Chowdhry (performer, writer, multimedia and interactive artist)
Aidan Jolly (composer-songwriter and musician)
Tracey Zengeni (vocalist)
Mazaher (VJ projections)
Elmi Ali (writer, poet, spoken word)
Pat Mackela (drums and percussion)

Committed To Represent – exhibition premiere with talks about the work at 6pm including special guest Mavis Makhaza from Gtr Manchester Immigration Aid Unit and WAST (Women Asylum Seekers Together):

Portable panels of photography and text, portraying the people behind the labels – our unsung heroes the legal immigration caseworkers and those who have needed their support. Created by Kooj Chuhan, Ursula Sharma and Mazaher, as a partnership project between GM Immigration Aid and Virtual Migrants.  This is a pop-up exhibition only on show until 1st November in the Kanaris Foyer at the museum.

This event is a part of the 90 Degree Citizen exhibition, on show from 10th October – 17th November at Manchester Museum, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL

FREE to attend, but please register at

The café will be open during this event for food and drinks.  Light refreshments provided.  All timings are approximate.

logo Banner funders

90 Degree Citizen – installing the exhibition

4bAmang Mardokhy arrives at Manchester Museum to install his paintings for 90 Degree Citizen – A rare exhibition of work by a new wave of visual artists whose experiences include life as refugees in the UK, and engaging with objects from The Manchester Museum.

“I have come from Kurdistan, north part of Iraq. Since the early start of my art experience, I also have learned how to live and express the sufferings of Continue reading

90 degree citizen - banner

UPDATE: Special Guests and online video – 90 Degree Citizen exhibition: Opens 10th Oct 6pm at Manchester Museum

WAST_logoSPECIAL 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

stephen welsh - youtubeNEW VIDEO INTERVIEW NOW ONLINE: Stephen Welsh, the Curator of Living Cultures at Manchester Museum, on museum collections and 90 Degree Citizen in the context of Victorian colonialism and ethnography

Thursday 10th October, 6pm, Manchester Museum, here are full details of the Opening Event from our website. Free, but register here

Re-Presenting Refugees event 30th October!

90 Degree Citizen
an exhibition by Virtual Migrants + performance / discussion events

on show at the Manchester Museum 10th October – 17th November 2013
migrant art – alternative connections – cultural boundaries
A rare exhibition of work by a new wave of visual artists whose experiences include life as refugees in the UK, and engaging with objects from The Manchester Museum

Special event:  Re-Presenting Refugees panel discussion with ‘Passenger 12’ multimedia performance  + special guests incl. international artist Humberto Velez, Denise McDowell the director of Greater Manchester Immigration Aid, and Iranian artist Flora Alexander
Wednesday 30th October, 6.00 – 9.00pm
plus: at 5.00pm a talk + preview of the “Committed To Represent” pop-up exhibition
FREE: please register at

view the trailer

Full details of the event

Exhibition full details here!

Refugee Week performance/talk at UniTEA

VM members Tracey Zengeni, Aidan Jolly and Sai Murray will be performing at this UniTEA Arts and Culture Event at The Brink in Liverpool today as part of Refugee Week. It’s a free event, open to all with tea, coffee and cakes of the world (!) available for the first 100 people.


Full details from below

Arts and Culture event to celebrate the positive contribution made by refugees to the culture, history and heritage of the UK

This is an arts and culture event, with 4 acts across the evening. The main theme of the evening is celebrating the positive contribution refugees have made to the culture history and heritage of the UK.

Tracey Zengeni is Zimbabwean artist who is bringing several pieces of her art to show and talk about, in addition to some acapella . Raj Govindarajah is a Sri Lankan film maker who has made a film about his friends experience of fleeing Sri Lanka and becoming a refugee in Britain. Aidan Jolly and Sai Murray are a musician and poet respectively, who have worked with many refugee and migrant groups.

There will also be a ‘Cakes of the World’ section, where desserts from common refugee origin countries will be available for attendees, and they can guess where the desserts originate.

In addition, there will be an ancestor mapping activity to plot the journeys of attendees relations throughout history.

The event is open to all, with free drinks tokens available to the first 100 people. It would be preferable if attendees could RSVP to:

Date From 19/06/2013 to 19/06/2013
Time From 16:00 to 19:00
Venue The Brink
21 Parr Street
L1 4JN
North West
Organiser Joshua Hughes
Category Arts and Culture
Price Free