Performance by Manchester artists aims to counter post-Brexit threats against our human rights
A new multimedia music performance raises the bar against the anti-human rights and anti-migration agenda hoisted onto Brexit. Viva Declaration! uses global jazz music with live mixed video to evocatively remind us of how important our human rights are. Created and performed by film and digital media artist Kooj Chuhan and the multi-instrumentalist composer Tagné Tebu, it focuses on the story of migration from ancient history to the present day.
The live show takes place at the People’s History Museum (PHM) on Saturday 22nd February at 2pm to launch their year-long programme of activity around migration. At the heart of the Viva Declaration! project is a strong message about human rights, that they are vital and that they should not be watered down. This is the potential scenario now that we have left the EU as was recently asserted loud and clear by Boris Johnson’s new Attorney General, Suella Braverman.
Video preview at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KdIer5NsBxE
Viva Declaration! also depicts protests against indefinite detention of people migrating to the UK, something which does not exist anywhere else across Europe and which many regard as the worst human rights abuse in the UK. The project includes work created in collaboration with the local campaign group ‘These Walls Must Fall’ aiming to end indefinite detention. By connecting migration with protest the event also concludes PHM’s acclaimed year-long Peterloo and Protest theme.
A legal charity the Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit is the third partner in the project and will be on the Q&A panel after the show at PHM. They have also co-produced with artist Kooj a photographic exhibition about their work comprising 12 display panels titled ‘Committed To Represent’. This is also on show at PHM until Sunday 23rd, alongside the ‘In Humanity’ art installation co-produced by Kooj working with These Walls Must Fall.
The project is developed and organised by Metaceptive Media who originally gained a commission from the internationally acclaimed HOME arts centre in Manchester to develop the first version of the piece. Metaceptive have previously delivered projects about Climate Change and about World War I as well as migration related work. Joining Kooj and Tagné will be special guest musician Helena Summerfield on saxophones and flute.
According to Kooj Chuhan who is the project’s director, “We are continuing Manchester’s distinctive lead in the UK as the city which is united in celebrating diversity against those forces wanting to divide us. This project for the first time brings together a museum, a legal charity, a campaigning group and a group of artists to generate a better understanding of human rights and migration. It’s important to make tangible the strength of feeling in Manchester for supporting those in need arriving at our shores under incredible duress. Even more than that, going forward we need all progressive creative people to get more active and counter the wave of watering down our rights that is going to hit hard and fast.”
Kooj Chuhan is artistic director and visual / video / VJ creator for the project. He has developed the narrative which reflects on wider ideas about borders and human rights throughout history. Born in India, Kooj mostly grew up in the UK after his family migrated here during the 1960s. He has worked across the themes found in Viva Declaration! for some decades, having worked as both an artist and a community activist on related issues for over 30 years.
Kooj has exhibited work across the UK including the Arnolfini (Bristol) and the ICA (London), internationally including San Diego, Paris, New Delhi and Toronto. He has won an award for digital arts connecting refugees with climate change, founded the Virtual Migrants artists collective focusing on race, migration and global justice, was instrumental in the early Manchester Black Arts movement and is the director of Metaceptive Media. www.metaceptive.net/about
Tagné Tebu is well known in Manchester as an astounding multi-instrumentalist musician composer. He came from Cameroon originally as a refugee to the UK, and strongly believes in the importance of legal systems for migrant justice. He has many credits as composer, arranger, producer and director. These include the 3-year Urban Music Theatre project, Manchester International Roots Orchestra, Another Country music and spoken word production. He has worked with international ‘world music’ stars Amadou and Mariam, Palestinian singer Reem Kelani and leading Romanian composer Michael Cretu. Tagné is co-founder and artistic director of Amani Creatives in Manchester. www.tebumuzik.com
Helena Summerfield is a graduate of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and an award-winning music educator. Although classically trained, she is a very experienced jazz educator including with the National Youth Jazz Collective. Outside of teaching Helena remains an active composer and performer in the Manchester area with bands such as HSQ (The Hillary Step Saxophone Quartet), Zamani, Ysbryd, the Tebu project and Mike Hall’s ‘Boplicity’. Helena also hosts a monthly show ‘Midweek Jazz’ on Reform Radio.
For more information about Viva Declaration! visit http://crossingfootprints.com/declaration
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