Viva Declaration! uses global jazz music with live mixed video to evocatively place human rights as fundamental principles able to lever movements against structural racism and global inequality, both of which have become highlighted during the pandemic era and which underpin issues of migrant justice. Created and performed by film and digital media artist Kooj Chuhan and multi-instrumentalist composer Tagné Tebu, with guest musician the saxophonist-flautist Helena Summerfield. Viva Declaration! live in Morecambe focuses on the story of migration from ancient history to the present day. Plus a Q+A after the show with the artists and Gisela Renolds and Zia Khan from Global Link.
Viva Declaration! live in Morecambe at More Music
Now on Friday 18th June we have Viva Declaration! live in Morecambe at More Music, 8pm, to mark Refugee Week. Expect sections of free improv, interactive video and audio loops, spoken polemics, multi-layered rhythms and evocative melodic structures. Viva Declaration! includes a mix of spoken monologues by detainees, human rights activists and legal case-workers reflecting on the themes of migration justice. It includes material from Angela Davis, Walter Rodney, Shami Chakrabarti, Viraj Mendis, Bridget Anderson, Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit and These Walls Must Fall campaign. 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 with emboldened ideas emerging during the pandemic of protecting borders alongside tussles with the EU.
The project is developed and organised by Metaceptive (now Crossing Footprints) who originally gained a commission from the internationally acclaimed HOME arts centre in Manchester to develop the first version of the piece. Crossing Footprints have previously delivered projects about Climate Change and 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, “This project brings together a legal charity, a campaigning group, radical academics 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 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 taking place.”
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 and brings his own identification with Viva Declaration. 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. Helena remains an active composer and performer 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
Photos taken by Jack Williams