This was the beginning of a new website for Kooj, in early stages. The archive website for Kooj is www.kooj.net , however Kooj’s work as an artist is now being integrated into the website for Metaceptive Projects and Media – his creative company: www.metaceptive.net . Please visit that site instead, or bear with the possibility that this site becomes fully functional sometime, thanks!
The 2-screen installation ‘Buy This (v3)’ created with support from Virtual Migrants as part of their Centre Cannot Hold ongoing exploration of climate imperialism, was re-formatted as a single screen artists’ video and toured Canada as part of the Monitor 9 programme by SAVAC (South Asian Visual Arts Centre) in Toronto. It is now also archived by Vtape, a non-profit distribution and resource centre in Toronto. Vtape is the leading distributor for video art in Canada, established in 1980. They represent a collection of over 5000 titles, accessible to artists, curators and educators.
The original ‘Buy This (v1) installation was more complex and interactive, exhibited at The Arnolfini in Bristol (2009) as a part of the ‘C Words’ exhibition about climate justice. This later non-interactive video-based version (v3) was premiered at the first Platforma Festival in December 2011 as a proper 2-screen installation followed by Manchester’s local Chorlton Arts Festival in 2012, and then in 2013 toured a few venues in Canada courtesy of South Asian Visual Arts Centre (Toronto) as part of Monitor 9 with the two screens compiled into a single screen for ease of exhibition, and then also at No.W.Here Gallery in London.
Although this work has been screened as a single video stream, it is best viewed using two separate projectors as an installation because the intention is that the two screens loop at different rates so that the imagery juxtaposition continually changes. Here is the original description of the work:
Buy This (v3) video installation
by artist Kooj (Kuljit) Chuhan, 2012, a part of an ongoing exploration by Virtual Migrants artists’ group
Year of completion: 2012
Country of production: UK
Running time: 6 mins 20 secs as a continual loop
Refugees and ‘third-world’ migrants bring with them intimate and undervalued knowledge about climate change. ‘Buy This’ juxtaposes such voices on one screen against another, over-saturated with colliding imagery of wars, colonial struggles, environmental upheaval and UK racism, overlaid with scrolling news messages.
An exploration of how environmental change is integral to the economic and political forces bringing about human displacement and racial inequality, and a continuation of the “Centre Cannot Hold” project discussing climate imperialism and the violent commodification of humans and the environment.
Increasing numbers of people in the UK are sceptical of man-made climate change, outnumbering those who accept climate change as man-made. Many local members of refugee communities have recent personal experiences and observations from their originating countries which are able to testify to environmental change. By enabling local refugees to express first-hand observations from countries they have recently migrated from, collaborating with scientists and social scientists to discuss their data, local people can intimately appreciate changing conditions in other countries. At the same time, it is an opportunity to raise discussion in the UK about the global connections between race and climate, and also how they may impact on issues such as asylum in Europe and the West.
The media-saturated culture which we in the western world inhabit is a facet of a wider approach to (over-) consumption which has become the norm, and which is fundamental to ideas of maximising economic growth with the resultant process of murdering the planet’s resources and bringing about climate devastation. More than this, the arts, media and cultural sectors is largely complicit in nurturing false illusions and political amnesia, this ‘soft’ consumption of particular cultural and aesthetic meanings actually forms our ways of thinking, seals our disconnections, and this video work taunts the viewer to Buy This.
“ R E S O N A N C E ”
by Kuljit ‘Kooj’ Chuhan
digital media and video installation
Resonance uses visually poetic metaphors combined with testimonial narratives to create a statement linking migrant settlers in Britain with the colonial and industrial legacy that brought them here, and with contemporary experiences and creative developments. The work interactively focuses on understanding the migrant experience within the framework of global economy and centralisation of wealth, and draws on the daily lives and personal struggles of the respective communities.
As an installation, Resonance combines video screens with projected digital interactive multimedia, along with an original 3-dimensional soundtrack. It integrates layers of documentary video, interviews, graphics, animations and computer games, so allowing the viewer to navigate through a variety of environments exploring the contrasts and resonances between migrant settlers. Using digital montage, visual symbolism and creative video, with the support of the original soundtrack, contrasting notions of alienation and integration are continually explored without ever losing the sense of a wider contradiction.
Migrant experiences come together in an alternative history of cotton-spinning, which was the base of the industrial revolution and whose mills played a major part in the recruitment of migrant labour. The struggle for a pluralist identity is a metaphoric mirror-piece to the more linear and historic narrative, and provides interactivity with a range of dialectical expression. Over 40 interviews spanning Afro-Caribbean, Bangladeshi, Indian, Irish, Pakistani, Polish and Ukrainian communities contribute to and enrich the work, which focuses on the Oldham area of Greater Manchester, historically acknowledged as the pioneering global centre of cotton spinning.
The video and digital media artist Kooj Chuhan has exhibited at various film and media festivals and gallery spaces across Britain over the past seven years. In addition to productions and commissions he also works with colleges and community groups and regularly conducts lectures, presentations and discussions on related subjects.
Also available as a single-screen CD-ROM installation.
First commissioned by and shown at Oldham Art Gallery, January-July 1999. Game programming by Claudine Moutou.
“Resonance brings to life the many stories of migration to Oldham with a level of intimacy unusual in multimedia works. With a user interface that is unusual and yet feels natural in use, Resonance is a significant intervention in the struggle to tell our histories and experiences.”
Arun Kundnani, producer of the award-winning ‘Homebeats’ CD-ROM, Institute of Race Relations, UK.
“Resonance leaves the audience reverberating with a magical tapestry of the moving image – don’t miss it!”
Alnoor Mitha, SHISHA (South Asian Crafts and Visual Arts Network, UK).
Refugees and legal support pop-up exhibition
on show with Refugee Boy by Benjamin Zephaniah
1st – 3rd April 2014, at Waterside Arts Centre, 1 Waterside Plaza, Sale, M33 7ZF
Open to view from 1pm on Tues 1st and Thurs 3rd, and from 3.30pm on Weds 2nd. Tel. 0161 912 5616
How does the legal work of the GMIAU (Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit) help refugees to rebuild their lives? What motivates the caseworkers? How do refugees respond to the challenges that the asylum system throws at them?
This exhibition is a celebration of the work that caseworkers do and a testament to the courage of refugees and people seeking asylum. It consists of photography and texts as a series of 12 portable panels by the Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit and Virtual Migrants.
REFUGEE BOY – a play based on the novel by Benjamin Zephaniah, is on stage at the Waterside Arts Centre 1-3 April. Adapted for the stage by Lemn Sissay. Gail McIntyre (West Yorkshire Playhouse Associate Director) brings together the work of two of the UK’s most prolific and revered poets, Benjamin Zephaniah and Lemn Sissay in a heartbreaking and hilarious production that pulses with energy, love, loss and hope. http://watersideartscentre.co.uk/whats-on/1371-benjamin-zephaniahs-refugee-boy/
A special talk about the Committed To Represent exhibition by Denise McDowell (the director of GMIAU) will take place on Wednesday 2nd April at 6.20pm, before the performance at 7pm.
This exhibition is available for borrowing or hire (if you have available funds), and a speaker can be provided if desired. The panels can be set up to accompany any relevant event or activity involving an audience, or cultural / artistic programme. Please contact virtual migrants via www.virtualmigrants.net or contact GMIAU directly via www.gmiau.org .
More information along with previews of the exhibition are available at http://virtualmigrants.net/committedtorepresent .
This is a short post (for the moment) to introduce the work of Virtual Migrants. This article gives a flavour of some of our previous work: http://www.virtualmigrants.com/vmartcle/intro_exhale.htm
Soon-ish one of us will post up something specifically about our performance work though there is a youtube video of this work available to watch right now at http://www.virtualmigrants.com/passenger.htm . Until then, from our website the following summary statement about us is worth a scan by way of introduction:
virtual migrants connects and engages artists with digital media, and organises projects that add new aesthetics and perspectives to themes of race, migration and globalisation. virtual migrants create, exhibit and distribute artworks that incorporate digital media techniques that can be installed in galleries, public spaces or community venues.
Over the years we have produced interactive media art, film and music such as the “Terminal Frontiers” exhibition that has been shown in galleries across the UK and abroad, we have collaborated with UK-based artists and communities at all levels and geographies, have published educational resources about refuge and immigration, have created a series of performance works entitled “Passenger”, and have produced a major publication “Exhale” as a DVD-CD-booklet box set covering five years of our productions. We are currently working on issues around race, refugees, and climate justice as well as other linkages.
virtual migrants association was founded in 1998 to bring together a range of artists, particularly those working in visual, music, performance and writing, to collaborate on moving image and new media projects. Its critical purpose is to add new aesthetics, artistic responses and perspectives to themes of race, migration and globalisation; to cross boundaries between artists and non-artists, including with theorists, activists and communities; to draw attention to expressions of migrants whose existence is held in question; and to artistically explore and respond to the causes of racialised political issues which continually make headline news.
INFUSION – migration, expression, liberation
22nd Sept – 27th October, at: Turnpike Gallery, Civic Square, Leigh WN7 1EB. Opening times: Tues-Fri 10am-5pm, Sat 10.30am-3.30pm. Tel: 01942 404420
an exhibition by artist Kooj (Kuljit S Chuhan)
created in collaboration with Raphael Sherriff and Joe Mulenda, Rafiki Youth Project (Wigan) and Kamosi Youth Project (Leigh)
Includes the video art installation “Fear And Liberation” (printed PVC banners with video screen).
“Infusion” is a process which releases active ingredients, liberating the vital essence of a substance into the surrounding area.
This work integrates critical art practice exploring collective identities with community collaboration, created by an artist with over 25 years of work in community, migrant and activist contexts.
Artist Kooj Chuhan, originally commissioned by Community Arts North West (CAN), used cultural, media and performance methods to work with young people in Wigan and Leigh from countries such as Ghana, Iraq, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Guinea or DR Congo, and Roma areas such as Slovakia or the Czech Republic. A community performance with the title “Fusion” gave a platform for their expressions and was filmed and two members of Rafiki, Joe and Raphael, then worked with Kooj on his own project to create the “Fear and Liberation” installation.
Thinking around migrant youth issues, Joe and Raphael immediately suggested a key quote from the biographical film Coach Carter which expressed some of their feelings about the needs of young black men. This art installation uses words based on the concluding line which becomes a window through which we see a montage of video imagery, the young people in performance, hanging out, in alternative roles and shots of Wigan, with words they have written during workshops with Levi Tafari and MC Crystalize.
The two walls either side of this installation present complementary video work comprising firstly a projection of two drama films made by Rafiki with Kooj titled “Classifique FM” and “Dress Your Heart Out”, and secondly a smaller screen plays the montage film “F-Review” which contrasts cultural activities against global contexts for the young people.
The final wall presents “Landing”, an installation consisting of prints in frames or on the wall along with hanging clothing. This was produced during a gallery workshop where a range of young people brought in objects or photographs and located images from the internet, which they felt represented something of their cultural origin relevant to them now. They printed these off and generated a wall design from which Kooj created the final installation, a snapshot of a collective self-portrayal.
This room itself becomes another installation as an environment which the gallery visitors can inhabit, titled “Infusion”.