BAGRI FOUNDATION ANNOUNCES WINNERS OF DIGITAL AT HOME IN THE WORLD COMMISSIONS — AN OPEN CALL TO ASIAN ARTISTS IN RESPONSE TO COVID-19
The Bagri Foundation is delighted to announce the five winners of its open call for At Home in the World, a series of £1,000 online commissions established in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. They are awarded as follows: Film – Eiko Soga; Lectures & Courses – Noel Ed De Leon; Sound – Jennae Santos; Visual Art – Jasmin Kent Rodgman; Written Word – Shagufta Iqbal.
At Home in the World invited artists, writers, musicians, curators, filmmakers, researchers and academics from Asia or the diaspora to create online works to be presented across the Foundation’s digital platforms. The Foundation sought applications from those who have been adversely affected by Covid-19 and who have suffered cancellations of work as a result. There was no strict brief for the commissions, and the Foundation encouraged a diversity of proposals that explores ways of thinking about survival, care and solidarity, offered from a place of hope.
The commissions will be presented across all appropriate digital platforms from June through the end of August.
Says Alka Bagri, Trustee, Bagri Foundation: ‘We were thrilled with the response to our open call. It was a great way for us to find out about artists working across Asia that we otherwise would not have known. We see this as the beginning of more opportunities to support extraordinary Asian talent through our Springboard strand.’
Says Chelsea Pettitt, Head of Arts, Bagri Foundation: ‘It was an extremely challenging task choosing only five commissions. With the help of our judges, we are pleased to be able to give awards to artists who proposed interdisciplinary work from an array of unique perspectives. We were looking for the unexpected, and we are very excited by the diversity of the ideas presented through this programme.’
At Home in the World is inspired by the Vietnamese philosopher and Buddhist Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s collection of autobiographical stories of the same name. The proposals selected defy typical categorisation and provide insight into the inspiration and response that each of the artists had to this brief. Through an online portal, we are invited to join their journeys of creation, share knowledge and explore ideas.
Entitled Microcosmic Orbit, Noel Ed De Leon’s project, takes the form of digital conversations and live-stream performances from the attic of his home – recently converted into an exhibition space. It invites a series of guest artists to undertake a virtual tour of his personal collection of historical artefacts. Housed in his attic, these currently range from original equipment from the First and Second World Wars collected in Britain and the Philippines, to found objects speaking to interconnected economic and cultural histories.
He says: “As we live through times in which ‘being at home in the world’ means remaining locally rooted while thinking globally, it is a privilege to produce ‘Microcosmic Orbit’ – a work which invites guests to critically and artistically delve into a private collection of objects connecting the Philippines and Britain. This piece has been in the making since 2016, and it is fantastic to receive support from the Bagri Foundation in order to bring it to life as a virtual guided tour and live-stream installation at this point in time.”
Having grown up in a South Asian single parent family, poet Shagufta Iqbal is now raising her own two children as a single parent. She wants to create a series of poems that discuss the triumphs and difficulties of such an environment, how care, solidarity and love are created in spaces where survival is often the overwhelming focus. The new work will include slips of notes and pictures that her children and she exchange when they leave to their father’s home, culminating in a new poetic monologue that reflects on this chapter in their lives.
She says: “I am so pleased to receive the award from the Bagri Foundation. Creating this work would add an important narrative that often gets overlooked in South Asian communities. It will give an intimate and cross generational voice to the ways in which communities exist today, and how hope, love and a different kind of family still continues on despite the pressures placed on it at this difficult time.”
Jasmin Kent Rodgman’s project, entitled hot B stars, is a music, sound and cinemagraph installation. Inspired by one of the few collections of abstract tantric painting from Rajasthan by Franck André Jamme, ‘Tantra Song’; her own mixed Malaysian-Chinese-British heritage; and Malay ‘syair’ poetry, ‘hot B stars’ is presented as a collection of miniatures. Sound art is weaved into intricate musical textures, providing an auditory backdrop to each of the cinemagraphs.
She says: ‘At Home in the World is an opportunity to be present and respond to our rapidly shifting environment; a chance to play with new perspectives. I will be developing a visual arts piece that is influenced and shaped by a musical approach. With both forms driving each other forwards, I hope to build a constellation of memory and movement, uncovering the various places throughout the world that I call ‘home’.’
WSABI Fox, the art-prog band created by Jennae Santos, takes the form of numerous live instrumentations, movement cycles, and interactive pieces, and will be presenting Loops for Bedroom Dancers. This is a community-sourced sound and movement video series investigating intimate yet remote performance. Dancers of any experience and background, from anywhere in the world, are invited to create and film movement cycles set in their own bedrooms, soundtracked by WSABI Fox’s guitar loops— the seedling vertebrae of her unreleased forthcoming debut LP.
She says: “The impulse for this project came before the Covid-19 outbreak, but it feels urgent now that our communal spaces, which give us an unequivocal sense of grounding in the world as humans and artists, are now compromised along with our financial livelihood. With support from this award, I can embark on a project that explores how we connect and create in the face of quarantine.”
Eiko Soga project seeks to explore an idea of ecology of empathy between human and non-human worlds through an ethnographic video essay which includes an oral history of the Ainu elders. She will use the video to observe, learn, think, document and share the Ainu elders’ wisdom based on interview material that she collected last year using visual and audio recordings. She will produce a video essay that will become a platform to share her question: how we can imagine a future that is more ecological and inclusive, with a sense of reciprocity, in the post-COVID19 era?
She says: ‘‘I have been witnessing how the Ainu communities support systems, knowledge and skills have been at risk of loss. During the lockdown in England, I have been revisiting audio recordings of interviews that I conducted in order to engage with the Ainu culture and socio-political landscape in Hokkaido, Japan. I hope, that with the support of the Foundation’s mutual aim to share knowledge and expertise, my work will participate in a conversation to protect the Ainu elders lived wisdom, which is of value to the whole of humanity.’
For press information, please contact Albany Arts Communications:
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Carla von der Becke
t: +44 (0) 20 78 79 88 95; m: + 44 (0) 79 74 25 29 94
Notes to Editors
About Noel Ed De Leon:
De Leon is a visual and performance artist whose practice spans archiving, installation and performance art. His work explores the themes of history and memory, engaging with questions of how historical conflicts, migrations and exchanges may be traced through surviving historical objects. Born in Pangasinan in the Philippines, he moved to Manila and graduated with a degree in architecture. In 2007, he relocated to London with his wife, Leah, along with their three children. A year later, when the recession hit, he began to pursue work as an artist, finding ways to express not only his personal experiences in a global economy, but also his passion for investigating historical traces and resonances across Southeast Asia and Europe.
In 2012, he met Philippine veteran artist, David Medalla (b. 1938), and was subsequently able to participate in the London Biennale — an informal and experimental art network headed up by Medalla. De Leon designed his first site-specific performance, Life As I Know It (2012) on Trafalgar Square using original gas masks from the First and Second World Wars which he had begun to purchase from markets in London. He has since continued to experiment working with historical objects purchased from markets and private collectors in Britain and the Philippines. He most often uses these objects in live performance, combining them with his own body as a means to express lingering connections of war, violence, exploitation and global capitalism within which many Filipino migrant workers often find themselves.
Since 2015 he has been co-director of Batubalani Art Projects – alongside art historian and curator Eva Bentcheva – which is a London-based non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting Philippine modern and contemporary art in academia and curatorial practices. Since relocating to London, he has gathered a large personal collection of historical objects. These are currently housed in his family’s home, and are ‘activated’ when he performs. Since 2016, he has been reflecting upon ways to invite others to engage with the collection and make new links between his practice. He is particularly interested in collaborations with artists, scholars and curators whose practice addresses the role of archiving in contemporary art, and investigate how private and public historical collections produce new insights on the histories of exchange, conflict, destruction and inter-dependency connection Southeast Asia and Europe.
About Shagufta Iqbal:
Longlisted for the Jerwood Poetry prize, Shagufta Iqbal is a Poet, Film maker, workshop facilitator, and Tedx Speaker. Described by Gal Dem as a poet whose work ‘leaves you validated but aching – her narratives are important, heart-wrenching and relatable.’ Her poetry collection ‘Jam Is For Girls, Girls Get Jam’, has been recommended by Nikesh Shukla (editor of the 2016 best-selling ‘The Good Immigrant’) as ‘a social political masterclass in its exploration of cities, cultures, race, food and family’. She is also published in the ‘Slam’ anthology with Macmilian.
In 2018 she co-founded Kiota, a support organisation for POC creatives in the South West where they run a series of mentoring and multi-disciplinary peer learning programmes. She is also the founder of the poetry collective ‘The YoniVerse’, which gives a platform to South Asian female poets, and aims to encourage young women from the south Asian community to participate in spoken word and poetry.
In 2018 she judged the Burning Eye Books BAME pamphlet competition, to encourage a more diverse range of voices to break into printed spoken word, since then she has continued to work with Burning Eye Books working with and mentoring poets through the publication and touring process.
She co-created and wrote the 2015 award winning poetry film ‘Borders’ with Director Elizabeth Mizon, which has been screened at London Short Film Festival, Glasgow Short Film Festival, Encounters Film Festival, and Tongues on Fire Asian Film Festival, Athena Film Festival, Belfast Human Rights Festival. The success of the film resulted in awards for best writer and best editor at Underwire Film Festival, and winner of best experimental film with WVN Film Festival and winner of the Zealous Emerge Film prize. She is currently writing her debut novel and a second poetry collection.
About Jasmin Kent Rodgman:
British-Malaysian Artist & Composer Jasmin Kent Rodgman brings together the contemporary classical, electronics and sound art worlds to create powerful soundscapes and musical identities. A regular collaborator across various art forms including dance, word, film and VR, her music explores otherness, memory, connection and plays with a sense of narrative.
As Producer, Jasmin adds another level to her portfolio, creating bold new platforms for her music including visual artwork, site-specific and multidisciplinary theatrical productions. A driving force behind where and how her work is experienced, she often experiments with unique set-ups such as audiowalks, interactive installations, underground nights, moving image, 360° film and more.
In 2018/19 she was a British Council PRSF Musician in Residence, living and composing for two months in Lanzhou, China. In 2017/18, she was a London Symphony Orchestra Jerwood Composer, and was mentored by composer Errollyn Wallen and director/producer Jude Kelly. In 2019 she received a PRSF Women Make Music award for her site-specific music production TRIPTYCH. Her music and live productions have been performed across the UK and internationally with partners including London Fashion Week, World Music Festival Shanghai, Attakkalari Bangalore, Edinburgh International Festival, Wilderness Festival, Roundhouse, Shoreditch Town Hall, Barbican, Oxford Playhouse and the Royal Albert Hall. Her film scores have featured at festivals such as Sundance, SXSW, Toronto International Film Festival, Kaohsiung International Film Festival and the London Short Film Festival.
Jasmin has curated and collaborated with a number of celebrated artists inlcuding MC Lady Lykez and poets Salena Godden, Sophia Thakur and Solomon O.B; choreographers and dance artists House of Absolute, Patricia Okenwa, Alexandrina Hemsley, Hemabharathy Palani and Hetain Patel; and filmmakers Gaëlle Mourre, Tian Tsering and Lisa Gornick.
Activism has an important place within Jasmin’s music. Much of her work investigates and challenges ideas centred around the female body, sexuality, race and cultural heritage. An advocate of gender and racial equality, her wider creative work includes delivering mentorship programmes for young artists, speaking at international industry forums and events, and arts activism projects that seek to empower both community and artists.
About Jennae Santos:
Jennae Santos is a Pinay multidisciplinary performance artist based in Brooklyn, NY. Her work spans music, theatre, dance, video, and design, and her most significant transmission to date is WSABI Fox, an art-prog band which takes the form of numerous live instrumentations, movement cycles, and interactive pieces. WSABI conveys an intentional misspelling of wasabi, a comment on the vast Ignorance-Orientalism experienced while navigating the American art rock music scene as a Fil-Am womxn. WSABI is also an acronym for Warped Sangot And Boss Interior. The Sangot is a Philippine sickle and martial arts weapon native to the Visayas, where she draws her maternal lineage. It is a dual beacon manifested in two central principles which guide WSABI Fox’s practice: the Harvest and the Fight. In Harvest, seeds of community are sown through fervent collaboration— feast for culture. In spirit of the Fight, her art seeks to empower the oppressed womxn body through explorations in dance, hyper-sensorial intimacy, emotional songwriting, and the consummate bandleader construct who commands WSABI Fox, the MF BOSS.
The music of WSABI Fox begins with the solitary process of constructing and layering guitar loops which wax polyrhythmic and atonal, and wane ambient and harmonic. These loops bloom into full sonic and theatrical productions with musicians, dancers, sculptors, video artists, costume designers, and more, of various experiences and backgrounds. As a studied theatre artist, she reveres the intersection of direction, design, and bodies in space to viscerally communicate a story performed. As a DIY artist and self-taught musician, Santos believes the validation of artful expression should not be dictated strictly by formal training, but in the democratized will to relentlessly explore.
About Eiko Soga:
Eiko Soga is a Japanese artist-researcher currently reading for her DPhil at The Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford. Her doctoral project combines video, poetry and ethnography, based on an engagement with the Ainu culture. Since 2015, she has been learning about the social environment and cultural history through making videos and writing poetry based on her experiences in Hokkaido, Japan. Her research has had a focus on women, affective gestures, questioning how new artworks might engage with a sense of value that generates ecological and empathetic knowledge.
In March 2020, she had a plan to start fieldwork in the town of Samani with an Ainu woman called Ms Kane Kumagai who is known to be one of the last people to hold knowledge of the Ainu and is a leader of the Ainu cultural preservation team in Samani. She had a plan to document the process of learning and embodying Ainu knowledge through learning how to work in nature and cook throughout different seasons in the Ainu way that is considered to be ecological and community oriented. Learning Ainu cookery was going to allow her to develop a holistic view of how they engage with nature and people to establish their world view. However, due to the unexpected situation caused by the COVID19, her fieldwork had to be cancelled. She is now exploring a different way of communication with Ms Kumagai through the exchange of phone calls, letters, and photographs based in Oxford.
About the Bagri Foundation
The Bagri Foundation is a UK registered charity, inspired by unique and unexpected ideas that weave the traditional and the contemporary of Asian culture. The Foundation is driven by curiosity, a desire to learn and supports a myriad of exciting artistic programmes that challenge, engage and inspire. Through a diverse programme of film, visual arts, music, dance, literature, courses and lectures, the Bagri Foundation gives artists and experts from across Asia, or those inspired by the continent, wider visibility on the global stage.