Common Ground, Vane, 2017



For ‘Common Ground’ Juan delGado has curated a programme of moving image works by and about refugees and migrants. From the everyday to the cataclysmic, the films and animations are tender, funny and heart rending.

The programme features work by Amer Barzawi, Ayman Nahle, Basel Shehadi, Syrialism, Wael Toubaji, and Sarah Zeryab, alongside prints by Iranian artist Mohammad Barrangi.

For this exhibition delGado travelled to Greece, Macedonia and Calais to record the journeys taken by refugees. delGado has not filmed these ‘invisible’ people but the places they have passed through and the traces of their existence they have left. In place of the images proliferated by the media delGado presents fragments of experiences and fleeting moments that tell the human story of people caught in the unfolding sweep of history. Altered Landscapes (2016) is an immersive, multimedia installation that traces a personal narrative through the scarred vistas of Europe in the midst of the largest mass migration in living memory. The landscape bears witness to the traumas and displacements of the people that move through it. Through video, photography, light and sound, Altered Landscapes takes the viewer on a journey: an intimate account of the experience of travelling through an unfamiliar landscape echoing the real-life experience of tens of thousands of refugees.

Mohammad Barrangi, a young disabled Iranian artist and para-athlete has been exploring the cultural reality he grew up with. Using motifs from Persian traditional arts concentrating on the human figure (mostly female) and animals, he creates prints with a personal insight into a world he wants to intimately share with us. Barrangi won first prize in the IV International Tragaluz Illustration Award, 2017.

‘Common Ground’ brings together a programme of short films and animations produced by young people, mainly from Syria, who have become part of a growing diaspora: a young generation of filmmakers who were thrown into one the most terrible conflicts in living memory. Some of them, like Basel Shehade, felt compelled to stay in their country to narrate and record testimonies that mainstream media had no access to. This is the cinema of urgency, a cinema born out of rockets, rubble and the colossal cataclysm of this ancient and diverse society. There was no time to learn cinematic techniques, no resources to produce a steady shot, a nice composition – the cruel reality of bombs did not allow a moment to write a film-essay. And yet, the extraordinary talent of these young artists is evident in these films, their stories narrated with the primary necessity of being seen, acknowledged.

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