Friday 12 June 14:30 – Saturday 13 June 19:30, online

Migrant Artists’ Mutual Aid joins with artists mayfield brooks, Mary Pearson and Jennifer Verson to host a two day virtual symposium which brings together important networks in the UK and across the Atlantic of artists, academics, arts organisations and the public sector to create a space for critical and exciting new thinking about the role of socially engaged artistic practices at an important historic moment.

Listen to MaMa Together Apart podcast

Presentations, videos and conversations will be streamed publicly via YouTube; for Proximity Zoom Rooms access please register for an invitation to join the discussions.

We’re pleased to announce the following performers and speakers, with advance videos for you to watch before the symposium:

Mary Pearson & mayfield brooks

Opening and welcome with Mary & Jennifer Verson Fri 14:30, How to Be Afraid? check-in #1 17:00, Transatlantic Horror Show: How to Be Afraid? performance 22:00, How to Be Afraid? check-in #2 Sat 17:00, trialogue with Seke Chimutengwende 18:30, digital interlude 19:30
credit: Jane MacNeil

How to Be Afraid? is a performance project that explores fear as an antidote to counteract the trauma of our separate but connected histories of the transatlantic slave trade, finding hauntings in our current psyches.

In our practice, we return to the question ‘What are you afraid of?’ as an improvisational score. The answer pours out and brings with it things we didn’t necessarily know were there.

mayfield brooks improvises while black, and is currently based in brooklyn, new york. mayfield is a movement-based performance artist, urban farmer, writer, and wanderer. mayfield is currently an artist in residence at center for performance research and abrons art center in nyc, and has performed & taught nationally and internationally.

Mary Pearson Performance maker, dancer/researcher, teacher, organizer. 2012-2018 toured solos FAILURE, The Sand Dog Cometh, and FoMO, mofos! internationally. Fascinated by collaboration as a complex and coordinated practice in survival. A co- curator of Con|VERGEREMIX collaborative performance residencies at Ponderosa Dance (DE). Teaching improvisation as a FAILURE Lab. Current practice is moving through collective and embodied trauma.

Jennifer Verson

Opening and welcome with Mary Pearson & Jennifer Fri 14:30, Proximity Zoom Room #1: What are our approaches to art and social repair? 16:30, Promixity Zoom Room #2: Connecting Social Justice Struggles through performance: Asylum, Detention, Slavery and our work with ISM Sat 13:00, Proximity Zoom Room #3: Performance and Peacebuilding practitioners 16:00

Jennifer Verson is a Doctoral Candidate at The Centre for Trust, Peace, and Social Relations at Coventry University where she holds a United Nations Alliance of Civilizations Studentship for her research ‘Performing Peace: Applied Performance and Scriptural Reasoning as a Peacebuilding Process’. The first joint studentship represents UNAOC’s  expansion of research activity in the area of intercultural dialogue and the role it plays in promoting (or inhibiting) social solidarity, trust and peaceful relations in diverse and changing societies. Performing Peace is an interdisciplinary research project that investigates the use of performance and performing arts in religious peacebuilding. 

She has a Masters Degree with Distinction in Cultural Performance from Bristol University. Recent publications include Migrant Artists’ Mutual Aid: A Short History in Images. Kritika Kultura, (30/31) pp.217-223 (2018). Co-editor Migrant Artists Mutual Aid: Strategies for Survival, Recipes for Resistance. Liverpool: Migrant Artists Mutual Aid (2017) . 

She is a founder and  Artistic Director of  Migrant Artists Mutual Aid (MaMa).

Intersectionality: Arts, Ethics and Activism (pdf download)

MaMa: a short history (pdf download)

Migration Songs: Memory, Proximity and Micro Political Engagement (video 8 mins)

Seke Chimutengwende

How to Be Afraid? check-in #1 Fri 17:00, Transatlantic Horror Show: Horror Project Reading 22:00, Trialogue with mayfield brooks & Mary Pearson, Sat 18:30
credit: Charlie Morrissey

Seke Chimutengwende works as a performer, choreographer, teacher and movement director. Recent choreographic projects include a duet, Black Holes made in collaboration with Alexandrina Hemsley which was part of the British Council Showcase in Edinburgh 2019 and a solo, Plastic Soul, which premiered at The Yard Theatre in January 2019.

Seke is currently researching a new piece looking at ghosts and haunted houses as a metaphor for how histories of slavery and colonialism haunt the present. Seke will introduce his research and share some writing that he is working on as part of this research.

Aleasha Chaunte

Humanise Project Human part 2 Fri 18:00, Stating The Obvious 21:30, Trialogue with Priya Sharma and Salma Noor Sat 14:30, Proximity Zoom Room #3: Performance and Peacebuilding practitioners 16:00
credit: Liverpool Arabic Arts Festival

Aleasha is an artist who works primarily on audiences; finding ways to cue, gain consent and encourage authentic, public intimacy. Her primary interests are ritual and the wisdom contained within fairy/folk/mythic tales. Aleasha is currently engaged in a research practice called the Humanise project which is exploring ways to reveal the mechanisms by which we (de)humanise one another.

Stating The Obvious is an acknowledgement that no matter how deep any of us go into investigating the human experience we find ourselves coming back to the same realisations. This session is about bringing these obvious things into consciousness and it is that consciousness that brings repair.

Priya Sharma & Salma Noor

Video & digital interlude Sat 10:00, trialogue with Aleasha Chaunte 14:30, Proximity Zoom Room #3: Performance and Peacebuilding practitioners 16:00

Priya Sharma is a film maker and researcher, and has been a Stuart Hall PhD Scholar in the Department of Media and Communications at Goldsmiths, University of London. Her research interests include emerging cultural identity, digital aesthetics, cultural production and the intersections between race, gender, sexuality and class.

art by Salma Noor

Salma Noor is a multi-disciplinary artist currently producing digital collages and GIFs. Her work uses punchlines and incorporates the compositional qualities of dereliction. She is interested in colour combinations, architectural spaces and black popular culture.

‘A Guide To Navigating Institutions’ by Salma Noor and Priya Sharma 

Comprised of a 5 minute animation, Salma Noor and Priya Sharma have created a short guide to navigating institutions based on their experiences as artists and facilitators working within and outside of arts institutions. They bring to light the diversity initiatives put forward by large arts institutions who have (by and large) failed to engage local communities and support marginalised artists and projects invested in genuine social justice and repair. In light of an upsurge in support for the Black Lives Matter movement, people have begun to demand accountability from these institutions who have gotten by on performative gestures towards social justice and community building. Edited so it can be easily shared on social media platforms (where much of these discussions have been taking place), this guide serves as a fun and uplifting primer for those entering into contracts with arts institutions, working as part of DIY collectives or bravely going it alone (or probably all three simultaneously). 

Sensitivity warning: flashing images 

Reading List

Samuel Farmery & Amina Rafique

Mama panel conversation Sat 12:30
Manual Vason with Migrant Artists Mutual Aid

Sam manages the day to day running of the MaMa group, and provides assistance with individual casework, as well as organising the food parcel deliveries during the COVID-19 lockdown. He has an MA in International Slavery Studies, focusing on Modern Slavery and has worked in the National Referral Mechanism, assisting victims of human trafficking in the UK.

Yasin Duman & Merve Kurt

Marbling Paper Ebru Art Performance (Merve Kurt) Sat 11:00, Presentation 15:30, Zoom Room #3: Performance and Peacebuilding practitioners 16:00

Merve Kurt is an interdisciplinary visual artist, humanitarian aid worker, and gender-based violence consultant. She exhibited the traditional marbling art of Ebru in Istanbul, England, Scotland, and Paris. She is particularly interested in the use of art in cohesion, integration, and expressing the diversity of society. She has explored a myriad of artistic media: from painting to ceramics, from hands-on to digital, from photography to felted making. She has attended several art therapy courses and implemented art healing techniques in her works since 2010.

Yasin Duman is a Ph.D. candidate at Coventry University and mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) consultant. His research focuses on intergroup relations and social cohesion between refugees and non-refugees in Turkey. He has been providing MHPSS and staff well-being consultancy programs to national and international humanitarian organizations including the Association of Assistance, Solidarity, and Support for Refugees and Asylum Seekers (MSYD-ASRA), Yeryuzu Doktorlari (YYD), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and Welthungerhilfe (WHH), and worked as a psychologist in Concern Worldwide. He applies art therapy techniques in his sessions and consultancy programs for individuals and groups.

Proximity: New Directions in Art and Social Repair is supported by public funding by Arts Council England, and with in kind support from The Bluecoat and Metal Culture.

Harriet Warnock, producer

George Maund, technical and broadcast support

Jon Davies, web support