Birmingham 2022 Festival today announces more events as part of the six-month programme.
Incorporating dance, live music, narration and an outdoor exhibition of original artworks and historic photographs, ME Dance Company’s Chain Stories takes you on a journey along the canals and across the sea to Ghana and Grenada, and back again. Exploring the struggles of those exploited in the Industrial Revolution’s push for cheaper labour and higher profit, it tells real life stories of people who literally came into contact with the chains that were forged in the Black Country and their fight for equality and freedom.
Jambo Cinema – The 1980s Indian Living Room & Bollywood VHS Rental Shop Experience – is a multifaceted immersive exhibition emerging from a nostalgic time in artist Dawinder Bansal’s childhood in Wolverhampton. The project is influenced by her time growing up as a young girl in her parents’ electrical shop, Bansal Electrical, which also rented VHS Bollywood films. It draws upon her memories of watching Bollywood films with her Sikh extended family, pays homage to her Kenyan roots, and explores the social history of South Asian home entertainment in 1980s Britain.
The Birmingham 2022 Festival iteration will feature a new short film called Asian’s Don’t Kiss (but we know how to make babies) inspired by the classic film Cinema Paradiso (1988) and the humorous musings of Dawinder’s life growing up as a young indian girl in the Midlands during the 1980s. Additionally, Dawinder will draw on her experiences of attending ‘daytimers’ which were daytime discos for young South Asians. This underground moment meant that teenage South Asians had a safe space to experience the nightlife they were forbidden to engage with due to cultural traditions and in some cases, safety from racial abuse. Nightclubs were taken over in the daytime, starting at midday and finished at 6pm. One Birmingham nightclub to hold these daytime gigs was The Dome. Dawinder will exhibit posters and material not seen by the public before and it is her hope to make this an exhibition that represented the lived South Asian experience in Birmingham and beyond.
All Roads Lead to Alexander takes you on a fully accessible, creative journey across the Commonwealth at the SAFS Windmill Community Centre, Smethwick, co-curated by children and young people with a range of special educational needs and disabilities from schools and colleges across Birmingham. Led by K’antu Ensemble, this showcase celebrates Birmingham’s diverse communities through the joy of art and music making, empowering those with quieter voices from the SEND community to have their place in the spotlight. Throughout the day, there will be a range of music and dance performances, art exhibits and foods available and performances will be relaxed, inclusive and participatory to cater to the needs of both participants and audience members living with disabilities in our communities.
Imagine Bamboo Summit explores what extraordinary structures, stories and circus performances we can build, make and imagine with UK grown bamboo – widely held to be one of the most sustainable materials on the planet. This is an epic international adventure, bringing together artists, craftspeople, growers and communities from the UK, India, Ghana and Bali, alongside performers and engineers from NoFit State, the UK’s leading contemporary circus theatre company. A free outdoor festival in Sunset Park – an award-winning, neighbourhood park in Ladywood – Imagine Bamboo Summit is presented by Imagineer Productions and artistic director Orit Azaz, in collaboration with Atelier One, BambooU, Rhizome Design, Ghana Bamboo Bikes and Nofit State.
Artist Beverley Bennett presents Nation’s Finest, Putting Down Roots and Birthing, an homage to the pioneering Blk Art Group. This multifaceted work will comprise of local gatherings, photographic public billboards and a short film displayed on digital live sites across Wolverhampton, Coventry and Birmingham. Wolverhampton is famously cited as holding the First National Convention of Black Art at Wolverhampton Polytechnic in 1982, organised by the Blk Art Group, who were all art students at that time. This historic event was a defiant demonstration of agency and ownership by young black creatives that continues to be heralded as an example of young people taking direct action.
For Nation’s Finest, Putting Down Roots and Birthing, Bennett has worked closely with Keith Piper, Marlene Smith and Claudette Johnson, key members of the Blk Art Group. Amongst the inspirations for the title is Keith Piper’s 1990 video commission ‘Nations Finest’, which was part of the Manchester Olympic Festival and explored issues of race and national belonging in sport. Visually, Bennett’s film centres on the grace and strength of two young black gymnasts, from a local gymnastic club, Sandwell Flyers. By capturing their skilled routines and tumbles, the film and billboards are a celebration of athleticism and talent, an ode to the young athlete’s determination, focus and dedication to their sport. During the gatherings in Coventry and Wolverhampton the multi-generational groups will reflect on the occasion of the commonwealth games. Their deliberations recorded and edited will become the soundtrack for the film raising important questions about who we are as a nation in 2022.
Let’s Go Further is a series of events, talks and discussions giving artists, audiences, and participants the opportunity to engage deeper with the themes of the Birmingham 2022 Festival. Aimed to provoke, inspire and inform, this free programme will run from May to September and involve a range of exciting, diverse and inspirational artists, speakers and panellists.
The first two events will ask audiences to look at the festival through fresh and radical perspectives. Reinventing the Rulebook on 30 May will give audiences the opportunity to hear directly from artists and producers about what they think a work of art should be today. Following that, Art Attack on 6 June will look at the relationship between art and activism through the voices of emerging and established artists involved in the festival.
All confirmed Birmingham 2022 Festival events can be found online at birmingham2022.com/festival where you can also join the mailing list to stay up to date as more events are announced.