“News from Nowhere” is a group exhibition for Refugee Week curated by award winning artist, Dr Gil Mualem-Doron and produced by the Socially Engaged Art Salon (SEAS). The “Nowhere” from which the exhibition’s “news” arrives is not William Morris’ utopian country but the dystopian places no one would like to find themselves in: from the Mediterranean’s abyss, to the Palestinian occupied territories, from countries still persecuting LGBTQ+ people to countries where xenophobia and racism are still tolerated.
Addressing Refugee Week’s 2021 theme, ‘We Cannot Walk Alone’, the exhibition launch will include a procession with music and the public art intervention, “Conversations From Calais”. This starts at the new LGBTQ+ Ledward Centre/ Jubilee Library where the first part of the exhibition begins. It then meanders to the Black and Minorities Ethnic Community Partnership Centre (BMECP) where visitors can view the large room installation, ‘Message in a bottle’, which was created with more than 250 residents of Brighton and the South East.
The exhibition, consisting of more than 20 local and international artists, is a continuation of SEAS’ May exhibition “The Face of the Other” which explored representation, the process of ‘othering’ and the politics of visibility. The large room installation “Message in a bottle” by Jane Lancashire and Gil Maulem-Doron began with Jane’s series of workshops where participants wrote messages to refugees that have drowned in the Mediterranean. Using hundreds of recycled bottles the messages were transformed into a three dimensional topographical map that adorns the ceiling with an amalgamation of a Victorian gazebo and a refugee makeshift shelter. This work will be on display at the BMECP and timed entry tickets can be booked here.
Using socially engaged practices, the project “Conversations from Calais” by graphic designer and illustrator, Mathilda Della Torre, is a public art project where transcriptions of conversations between asylum seekers and volunteers in Calais are posted in public spaces around many cities in the UK and abroad.
One of the highlights at the other exhibition site - The Ledward Centre - is the project ‘Where Love is Illegal’. Led by photographer Robin Hammond, the project documents personal testimonies of tens of LGBTQ+ refugees around the world who had to flee their home countries in fear of persecution.
And there is also Alqumit Alhamad’s digital collage of the UK Prime Minister’s mug on the rear of Leonardo da Vinci’s A Standing Male Nude decorated with enigmatic text in Arabic. The work is part of the series “News Print” in response to Johnson calling Gay people "Bum boys" as well as his calling Hijab-wearing women "letterboxes".
Addressing the world's oldest unsettled refugee population, the Palestinian refugees, the exhibition will feature the work of Visualizing Palestine, an independent, non-profit laboratory for innovation at the intersection of data science, technology, and design which creates data-driven tools to advance a factual, rights-based narrative of the Palestinian-Israeli relationship. Often described as a “complicated issue”, Visualizing Palestine succeeds in clarifying the history of this conflict and the everyday life of Palestinians under an Apartheid regime. The particular works chosen for the exhibition are related to restrictions of freedom of movement and other human rights violations.
The exhibition can be viewed in the windows of The Ledward Centre, at the Black and Ethnic Minorities Community Partnership (BMECP) and online from 13th June.
The opening event for the exhibition will be on the 13th June, 2pm in the form of a procession. The event, in collaboration with Sanctuary on Sea will be the main Refugee Week event in Brighton. The procession will include the covering of the Ledward Centre windows with hundreds of conversations with refugees, consequently restricting the view of the exhibition until the end of Refugee Week. Therefore, only people who join the procession will be able to see the window’s exhibition. The procession will end at the BMECP and provide the opportunity to view the second part of the exhibition in compliance with social distancing rules.
At 5pm the event will culminate in a live broadcast from BMECP via Zoom, a talk by the exhibition’s curator, some of the contributors and a Q&A.
Tickets fr the launch event are free, subject to Covid restrictions, and can be booked here. The exhibition at the BMECP is smaller and so requires timed entry. Free timed entry slots can be booked here.
The exhibition also forms part of Refugee Week 2021.
Participant artists: Alqumit Alhamad, Colette Batten-Turner, Márcio Carvalho, Hong Dam, Menel Deab, 江峰 Jiang Feng, Irene Fubara, Bashir Al Gamar, Robin Hammond / Witness Change, Jean Marc Joseph, Eman Khokhar, Jane Lancashire, Layla Madanat and Eleanor Nawal, Gil Mualem-Doron, Dimitris Pagonis & Menelas, CJ Reay, Maja & Anna Spasova, SOGICA, Mathilda Della Torre, Visualising Palestine and Rami Yasir.
The exhibition is supported by The Art Council England, The Rainbow Trust, BMECP, Brighton & Hove Communities Fund and The Irene Mensah Bursary.