This May, Socially Engaged Art Salon’s (SEAS) latest exhibition, somewhere was due to take place throughout Brighton Festival. In response to the coronavirus crisis, the exhibition is now available online. Discover the exhibition here.
In 2019, SEAS commissioned artist Maria Amidu to create a new collaborative work framed by the themes of migration and displacement. The work began with a potluck meal at SEAS, entitled, a seat at the table for seven visual artists whose artistic practices have been influenced by experiences of ‘being from elsewhere’.
To catalyse the conversation during the meal Maria made place cards using envelopes she stencilled with the words: homeland, recipes, art, journeys, culture, identity and displacement, instead of the artists’ names. Each envelope contained a handwritten provocation. Midway through the lunch, Maria asked each artist to open their envelope and speak for five minutes about what their word evoked for them. The conversations that took place as a result were recorded.
Listening to these conversations a few weeks later Maria wrote seven short texts using the process of free writing using one word from each of the artists' monologue as a starting point and writing within a self-imposed, 15-minute deadline. The prompt words from the recording and the provocations words from the meal were: cause (homeland); craving (recipes); urge (art); erasure (journeys); drops (culture); water (identity); and booklet (displacement). Central to the exhibition is somewhere, Maria’s resulting commission piece. Visitors to the site can watch one-minute, experimental films she created using a mobile phone, overlaid with the artists reading the texts. Pages from the artist book and the original texts are also featured on the site somewhere is testament to the stories told during a seat at the table, by artists with migrant and refugee background and speaks to the troublesome, contingent and precarious nature of being from elsewhere.
On Sat 15 May, SEAS will be facilitating a Zoom meeting to discuss socially engaged art in the time of social distancing. They welcome those working in the creative industry to discuss how artists can engage with their communities while maintaining social distancing. Register for the event here.
Find out more about Maria Amidu: www.mariaand.co