After much anticipation, the Journeys Festival International CCI seminar took place on the 20th of October 2017, in which five prestigious panellists discussed their own personal thoughts and feelings on the topic of Culture and Mobility: Displacement, Adaptation, and Creativity, as chaired by Dr Marius Kwint.
The seminar opened with a short introduction from Professor Pal Ahluwalia, who commented on the ‘amazing cooperation’ between Journeys Festival International, the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries and the Citizen Race and Belonging (CRaB) Research Network.
Dr Patti Gaal-Holmes, a senior lecturer in Film Production at the Arts University of Bournemouth, used her time to discuss her own identity and what the concept, and construction of identity means to her. She talked about the meaning of belonging, displacement, and freedom, of moving by choice, and by force, as well as the impact of immobility. Patti raised the question of what are the spaces of emergence, and how can things be mobilised through art and culture.
Aakash Odedra, an award winning contemporary British dancer and choreographer who founded the Aakash Odedra company in 2011, spoke about his own sense of displacement that he felt from childhood, and how through dance he learnt the ability to speak without words, Aakash said,
“Dance had the ability to transcend words, it had the ability to speak and I feel like a language belongs geographically to a nation, or a country, and its locked by that boundary, but I felt like movement didn’t have that boundary”
Aakash went on to discuss the formation of #JeSuis using dancers from Turkey, and how he was amazed and inspired by their will to be able to speak and go further. Aakash finished by acknowledging that he is just one tiny part of the population, but as that tiny part, he wants to speak loudly and create change.
Dr Amanda Rogers, Senior Lecturer in Geography at the University of Swansea, chose to confront, the optimistic nature of the seminars theme. Amanda addressed the concept of the ‘Darker Side of Creativity’, pointing out three main issues with creative migration: ambivalence towards the homeland, emotional and creative burnout, and exploitation, both self exploitation and exploitation from others.
Dr Cathy Seago, Senior Lecturer in Choreography and Dance at the University of Winchester, discussed how dance and choreography can serve as a metaphor that when we move, we change. Cathy said, “in movement we shape and are shaped by our environment”, she went on to suggest that movement materialises in four different manners: form of movement, progression of movement, projection of the movement, spacial tension created by movement. Cathy then took theories of dance and applied them to the concept of movement as a whole, including migratory movement.
Stephen Shropshire, a contemporary dance maker dedicated to actively engaging in the cultural discourse on dance, suggested that the polarisation of concepts in contemporary dance encourages an ‘I and the other’ narrative, which results in the limitation of artistic mobility, practically and conceptually. Stephen goes on to discuss and analyse the theory that artists are activists, which he then relates this to his own personal experiences of displacement, and using dance and choreography to move beyond that feeling.
The seminar ended with a Panel discussion and Q&A, which welcomed, and encouraged the audience to join in on the conversation. Each panellist spoke intelligently and eloquently about their subject matter, with each discussion being entirely unique, whilst remaining linked, and sharing the same underlying themes, and relating back to the overall topic of Culture and Mobility, displacement, adaption, and creativity.
The times at which each panellist began their discussion are listed below:
00:00:00 – Start
00:02:35 – Professor Pal Ahluwalia Introduction
00:09:40 – Dr Patti Gaal-Holmes
00:23:10 – Aakash Odedra
00:36:00 – Dr Amanda Rogers
00:48:05 – Dr Cathy Seago
01:01:00 – Stephen Shropshire
01:25:57 – Panel discussion/Q&A
01:56:45 – Closing remarks
Feature by, Katie Clarke
Images courtesy of Sarkiz Mutafyan, and Journeys Festival International.