FROM A TINY SEED GREAT THINGS GROW
Share the Experience of Afghan Migrants through New Artistic Program
In what will be the first major artistic engagement with the Afghan and Persian communities of Blacktown, Blacktown Arts presents Daneha, a multi-faceted artistic program made up of a visual arts exhibition, artist talks, musical performances and theatre.
Daneha (“Seeds” in English) explores the displacement of the Afghan community across the globe, and the cultivation of roots in foreign, unfamiliar soil. The program will transform The Leo Kelly Blacktown Arts Centre into a multi-functional space for community to engage with contemporary artists, as collaborators, audiences and active participants in reimagining identities.
‘The Afghan community of Blacktown has grown by almost 40% since 2011,’ said Blacktown City Mayor Stephen Bali MP. ‘Daneha is the first major artistic engagement with our Afghan and Persian communities. I am proud that our arts centre is presenting a diverse program that offers unique opportunities to reflect on the experiences of migrants and refugees, and explore the challenges they face when settling in a new land.’
The program launches on Thursday 5 July with a visual arts exhibition featuring new works by Avan Anwar (Melbourne), Elyas Alavi (Adelaide), Zainab Haidariy (Germany), Gerrie Mifsud (Sydney) and internationally acclaimed and Blacktown-based artist Khadim Ali. Khadim is an established artist who was awarded the NSW Government’s 2016 Western Sydney Arts Fellowship worth $50,000 and his work is held in numerous public collections around the world.
“I’m now a Hazara-Australian,” said Khadim Ali. “My work for this exhibition focuses on how I am enjoying being an Australian, and how this transitional period of my life is changing my art, changing my perspective.”
The arts exhibition will feature works by members of the local group Afghan Women on the Move.
“Afghan Women on the Move creates a radically safe platform for women as survivors of war and trauma, to gather and participate in arts and cultural programs, outside of religious and political influences,” said Maryam Zahid, the group’s coordinator.
The video work Borderline (2017) by Atefeh Kazemi and Zahra Akhlaqi (Soraya) is also screening as part of this exhibition. The video is a series of interviews with second and third generation Afghan immigrants who were born in Iran and continue to live in the country.
Taking place in June, the women’s artworks will be developed in workshops lead by artist Nazanin Marashian, and will connect identity and culture through the use of personal signs and symbols.
The program includes two Artist Talks. The first, on Saturday 18 August, is moderated by Abdul Hekmat and will be an opportunity for audiences to connect with Khadim Ali, Elyas Alavi and Maryam Zahid (Afghan Women on the Move), find out more about their works, life experiences and the program.
The second, on Saturday 1 September, is a discussion facilitated by Paula Abood on work creatively with refugee women and will include Maryam Zahid, Monirah Hashemi (international playwright/actor) and international theatre director, Lief Persson, from Teatre Dos.
The Daneha program will culminate with the Australian premiere of Sitaraha – The Stars, a moving one woman play which intertwines the stories of three generations of women living in Afghanistan. Navigating war and religious oppression, the women use songs, dance and storytelling to try and keep their stories alive. Taking place from Thursday 6 – Sunday 9 September, Sitaraha features Monirah Hashemi and is based on real conversations and research.
Daneha offers a unique opportunity for the people of Blacktown and beyond to come together to reflect on the experiences of migrants and refugees, and join with them in all the challenges and opportunities that present themselves as they regather in new lands.
The Leo Kelly Blacktown Arts Centre is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm. Admission to the visual arts exhibition is free.
Sitaraha (The Stars)
Click here to RSVP for the artist talk on Saturday 18 August 2018
Click here to RSVP for the panel discussion on Saturday 1 September 2018