BIGsmall artists is currently seeking a Chinese partner for an exciting EuroSino Art Project. This cross-cultural project with exhibitions, artist talks and workshops will tour at several european cities including Belfast – Northern Ireland, Carbonia – Sardinia, Novi Sad – Serbia and many more. Bigsmall artists is a registered community interest company engaging in collaborative art projects in Europe and China.
The current project will collaborate with international artists from across Europe and Asia, the ‘Whispers’ project will explore the silence of subcultures and the invisibility of minority ethnic groups who exist in small pockets of urban centres. The project will focus on generating engaging dialogue and debate between the dominant mainstream culture and the minority groupings that are often perceived to exist at its periphery.
This cross-cultural project will culminate in a month-long contemporary art exhibition in Belfast with a series of performance events, a weekly talks programme and a community-based workshop series exploring minority perspectives in cultural, social political frameworks. After Belfast the project will travel to each of the partner venues and the local events will be organised in collaboration with each host/partner.
‘Hidden meanings’ will be a key issue of the ‘Whispers’ project and art is a classic example of how interpretation of form, colour and texture can vary dramatically depending on one’s cultural background. It is this diversity that breathes so much richness into the creative industries.
In Belfast the template is as follows:
Each of the four weeks will explore a different topic of ‘hidden meanings’.
Week 1 will focus on colour association, asking the question of how we build meaning around colour based on our upbringing through social, political and religious symbolisms. Over the five days, a different colour will be the focus of the day. Red. Yellow. Blue. Orange. Green. Artists and performers from China, Japan, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, UK and Ireland will unite in group discussions open to the public and they will also deliver individual presentations of artworks that can operate on both the mainstream and the subliminal level.
Week 2 will focus on the visual and emotional impact of text and how artists can work with text to make powerful and cross-cultural statements. Text viewed as abstracted symbols rather than linguistically specific or ‘exclusive’ messages.
Week 3 will address the idea of transformation of space and of meaning through performance, installation & altered media. With interactive and generativeartworks the workshops will engage with the wider community by moving beyond the gallery space into public spaces throughout the city.
Week 4 will focus on identity & multiple identities in Europe – cultural belonging & what remains when communities and individuals emigrate/immigrate, how we build a composite inclusive identity and whether this a progressive or regressive notion? How do host communities respond to immigrants? How far does an individual have to integrate? These issues are often at the root of the problem which can create harmful prejudices and misunderstandings between peoples.
Minority groups can often feel their voice is unheard within the mainstream channels of communication and therefore the concept of the ‘Whispers’ project is to provide a platform for these low-level voices, these whispers that operate at the heart of subliminal social and cultural change in urban contexts. And unlike the high-pitched sound from a loudspeaker, a whisper can invoke curiosity to the onlooker, a conversation observed but unheard… We often think of minorities on a purely ethnic or religious level, however, individuals with alternative sexualities and people with disabilities also fall into this camp of otherness. Even artists themselves will usually self-categorise as a minority grouping operating with an alternative perspective that can be reactionary to mainstream society.
This cross-cultural and multi-lingual approach will lead to a greater level of open-mindedness by the general public as they engage with the events as visitors and/or participants. The ‘Whispers’ project will also build new bridges and networks between key artists from across the globe, with the potential to develop spin-off projects in other countries around the world.
‘Whispers’ has a particular relevance in Belfast where the Chinese population is estimated to be over 3000 and one of the most intractable difficulties associated with first generation immigration is the language barrier. Engaging with wider issues of European & global diversity against the backdrop of a city which has been at the heart of inter community conflict for many years ‘Whispers’ will provide valuable insights into culture in the EU and reinvigorated cultural compass.
Equally ‘Whispers’ will be a very significant project for Cherimus in Sardinia which has as its remit the aim to bring contemporary global arts practice to the island and to facilitate the experience of art in order to grow new audiences.
Please email me for more details and a full discussion of the proposal. I am based in Beijing and am happy to arrange a meeting with interested parties.