ARTISTS AS WITNESS
This project is about the role of the artists in the social and historical context of the so-called refugee crisis,
and how Dragon Dance Theatre is participating.
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this PDF document is a review written by Bernardo Olmedo. It describes the latest Artist as Witness Exhibit which was held at La Muse en Goguette, during the month of August 2019.
ABOUT ARTISTS AS WITNESS - 2020 -
There are amazing things happening in Europe with the continuing refugee crisis. Last year you sent us to Lesbos and we met refugees from all over the middle east and much of Africa and even some from Bangladesh. There are still refugees coming to Greece; we are in touch with people in Chios and Leros who are receiving boats regularly. There are many many refugees in Mainland Greece hoping to go further north, to Germany or England or at the very least, to stabilize and legalize their situation so they can take part in the Greek economy.
There are multitudes of people arriving in Spain most of whom are Africans; when Saudi Arabia bombs Erytria refugees make their way to Greece, Italy Spain. What a scene at the Morroco border; , hundreds of people are walking converging to the coast looking for a way into Europe. The refugees say the violence is too much, and they feel must leave this region.
We continue to be in contact with the young men we met in the camps for unaccompanied minors on Lesbos (2016). Many, although not all of them are still in Greek cities, others have made their way to Germany, Italy, France and England. They have been going to school, they are in residences and they continue to be under the care of aid organizations. Some of them have families in Europe they have joined them some others are still trying to work things out, many are still minors.
We feel we should return to witness another aspect of the immigration phenomenon. The volunteers we are in touch with are a bit uncertain about their immediate futures. We want to engage, to be able to enter into a relationship with the refugees, as artists, with art projects. Theatre perhaps, especially if we go to Spain where the refugees are likely to speak one of our languages, which was not the case in Greece. Mask making continues to be popular and the managers of the residences like this idea. Drawing or painting is more difficult because of the materials. But a mural might work if we can find the right place and bring the materials.
In 2017, as a result of our witnessing we wanted to testify, we were able to exhibit images from the Greek coast, pictures of the distress that was occurring along the north coast of Lesbos. We exhibited on three different occasions, twice in France and once in Vermont. We also gave talks at two Universities; one in Trois-Rivières and one at Concordia in Montreal. We also published a book, with a collection of the weekly writings: "Chronicles from Lesvos" ; describing the workshops we gave, the people we met, the stories we heard and the incidents we actually saw.
In 2018, we were at the border of France and Italy, spending time at Cedric Herroux's campment as well as at the Red Cross Camp in Ventimiglia. During the last year, we continued to work on new images inspired from the many encounters during those visits.
These images will be part of an artist book.
In 2019, we were in France in August for a Dragon Dance Theatre project, and thanks to Anais Barrachina from La Muse en Goguette gallery, we exhibited a series of Watercolors
For 2020, we now in our printmaking workshop in Trois-Rivières, Québec, and we are preparing the plates that will be used to make an artist book. These books will contain the original engravings of our experience.
Where will we go next? We are thinking of Spain. With our camera and sketch book, with our masks and theatrical ideas, we want to continue this journey ; We will listen and learn people’s stories and understand better who is coming to Europe and why they are coming. Is it simply war or is war always driven by climate change? Is the ground sinking under the feet of the Bangladeshis? are the extraction industries enslaving the children? are the bombs making more and more people homeless and kids orphans? We plan to stay ‘til the fifteenth of November.
We continue to be independent artists and an independent theatre company. No state or institution or industry will be supporting this project. We count on you, friends of the Dragon and our friends and family to help us realize this latest investigation into the current state of the world. Your contribution will make it possible for us to spend two and a half months in the field ; being on the beaches for arrivals and at the detention centers, seeing the conflicts at the borders and meeting the people who live in these areas. There is so much to learn, so many stories to hear, so many images to make. Your contribution will make this project, will you join us ?
Contributions via PayPal at the following address:
Thank you very much, we will be in touch; we will keep you informed as the project unfolds.
Sam and Katah
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