28 / 02 / 20
By Ruma Parvin
Time is a witness. It witnessed five months of collaboration and growth between artists and curators of the SoulArt Collection, taking its rightful place in every discussion, decision, and development. Time witnessed the challenges and the swaying of emotions, but since its nature is to constantly be on the go, it pulled us along with it.
Time kindly accommodated our event ‘Does art have a soul?’, but did not offer ‘time’ to our mentors to see the end performance raw. Time watched amongst more than 70 people in its presence, all of whom (also) became a witness.
The witnesses from 18th January 2020, became part of our history.
Presented to them were challenges surrounding privilege, religion, rituals, access, acceptance, and opportunities in the art industry. They heard the accusations, the different viewpoints, insights, and personal experience. They were left to make their judgment.
Why does it ‘feel’ that explorations of faith or religion are not welcomed in secular arts spaces? How would art spaces look if groups were not marginalised and truly given a space to co-exist?
Does art have a soul? If so, who has a stake in it?
Time is also proof. It is proof that people of different faiths and no faiths can collaborate in harmony. Time is proof of friendships and understanding. Time can show you communities co-existing in tranquility.
However, time is also proof of unfairness in race, equality, beliefs, education, choices, and opportunities. We wanted to share our experiences.
It was an evening of openness, creativity with simplicity. An evening of education, understanding, and celebration. It consists of a short film: The Birth of Isa (A.S) by Hassan Vawda, print work curated by Juma Harding-Dimmock, a performance by members of the SoulArt Collective (Claudia, Rachel, Amina, Iona, and Ruma). Followed by an excerpt from Exhale, written and read by Zeddie Lawal and a panel discussion. There were snacks, there was chatter and there was enjoyment.
The SoulArt Collective members are Haleema Ali, Iona Champain, Claudia Dattoli, Gina Gambetta, Rachel Harris, Sumina Kasuji, Amina Koroma, Ruma Parvin, Fiona Ranford and Sammy Wan.
Our mentors included Brian Mullin, (associate director at the National Theatre), Hassan Vawda (artist, curator and researcher), and Emily Lim (director at the National Theatre).
SoulArt collective emerged from the Faith & Belief Forum and it’s Curators and Creators programme.
Special thanks to Fiona Ranford, Tim Mortimerto Aqeelah Malek, Siobhan Anderson and Jess Hazrati for supporting the programme. And to Amal (a Saïd Foundation programme) for funding this project.