21 - 25 May 2019 / 12:00 to 18:00
Tate exchange, 5th Floor Blavatnik Building, Tate Modern, London SE1

Who Are We? Project at Tate Exchange

Move across Tate Exchange through commissioned installations, symposia, and participatory workshops exploring living archives, the power of popular culture and crossing borders; migration, mobility and citizenship; and the politics of cultural policy, language diversity and translation.

Take part in Learning Labs focusing on the increasing restrictions on artists’ rights and freedom of expression, the political potential of the neighbourhood-led co-operative commission, and the local/global re-building of arts/culture and civic infrastructures.

Throughout the week, we’ll choreograph conversations with artists, cultural activists, academics and cultural hubs across the UK – with guest partners and participants from Beirut, Berlin, Casablanca, Dublin, Istanbul and Madrid – to explore the comparative processes of cultural democracy and new models for artistic production and collaborative, socially engaged practice.

We look forward to continuing our collaboration with Tate Neighbours; and partnering with the British Council, Plymouth College of Art, English PEN,  Index on Censorship, and the design and branding agency, TEMPLO.

 The programme includes four commissions/installations:

Installation: Recognise, Risk, Reimagine, Rebuild, Redistribute

12:00 to 18:00 (Tuesday – Saturday)

What might real social change look like in practice and where are the viable blueprints? Who Are We? invites sixteen artists to make a collective, collaborative response to re-imagining cultural democracy.  How do we recognise the most urgent issues? What kinds of strategic/creative risk might be involved in owning them? And how might we begin to lay the foundations to rebuild our infrastructures and redistribute power and funding? With visual, live art, spoken-word artists and dramaturges: Isabel Lima, Gil Mualem-Doron, Selina Nwulu, Stephen Tiller, Juan delGado, Hamdi Khalif, Natasha Davis, Richard DeDomenici, Zia Ahmed, Bern O’Donoghue, Farhad Berahman, Edin Suljić, Hassan Mahamdallie, Marcia Chandra, Shay D and Laila Sumpton.


Installation: Li Dû Man (Left behind)

12:00 to 18:00 (Tuesday – Saturday)

Wars take away a lot from people. But sometimes they take away the people and leave their belongings behind. As a journalist covering the clashes in Kurdish cities in Turkey, 2015 – 2016, Zehra Dogan took the small objects she found in the debris, as testimony of a war no one was talking about. This installation tells the stories of those who fled, via what they left behind. It also invites you into a conversation and to participate in the crafting and performance of stories about place and displacement.


Installation: SoundShapes

12:00 to 18:00  (Tuesday – Saturday)

SoundShapes invites you to walk through and experience the sounds and shapes of languages. Combining digital content, sound, embroidery, film and photography, it will take you on a linguistic and cultural journey exploring the everyday realities of diversity and cultural difference. Challenging you to rate different languages depending on how familiar you are with them and whether you ‘like’ their sound or not. The Open University researchers Inma Alvarez, Carlos Montoro and Mara Fuertes-Gutierrez build upon the AHRC project Language Acts and Worldmaking and ‘A Stitch in Time’ (which was featured at Who Are We? in 2018), to collaborate in 2019 with branding and digital agency, TEMPLO.


Installation: As Far As Isolation Goes 

12:00 to 18:00 (Wednesday – Saturday)

A performance by musician and street artist, Basel Zaraa, and live artist, Tania El Khoury, about the health experiences of refugees. This builds upon a previous collaboration As Far As My Fingertips Take Me, in which El Khoury commissioned Zaraa to record a rap song inspired by the journey his sisters made from Damascus to Sweden. In the newly commissioned As Far As Isolation Goes, Zaraa creates a song inspired by conversations with friends and colleagues who have recently claimed refuge in the UK.  It uses touch, sound and interactivity to bring the audience in contact with those faced with inhumane detention centres and a mental health system that disregards people’s political and emotional needs.


 Instagram Series: Tales of Precarity (17 – 25th May)

An Instagram based storytelling project ‘Tales of Precarity’ by The Open University researcher, Tim Butcher, in conversation with seven artists from Counterpoints Arts’ network. ‘Tales of Precarity’ will run from 19 – 25th May with a ‘story’ a day featuring an artist’s portrait and drawing upon the question ‘How do we create meaningful public dialogue about the precarities of artists who risk?’ Discover these ‘stories’ and the portraits via @whoarewe_tex


Tuesday 21st May

Symposium Part 1: Migration and Identity

13:30 – 18:00

Symposium Part 1 – programmed by Umut Erel and Agnes Czajka – brings together a dynamic mix of Open University projects presenting a series of interdisciplinary conversations between the social sciences and the arts: focusing on ‘movement and identity through experiences of migration’; the ‘politics of citizenship’; ‘models of participation in the context of climate change’; ‘creative interventions into citizenship’ and ‘solidarity with refugees across a range of geographical and political landscapes’.


Wednesday 22nd May

Workshop: 20:20 – Curating in Public with Salusbury World and Partners

12:00 – 18:00

‘Salusbury World’ is a truly unique and visionary school-based refugee charity in North West London, which over the past twenty years has supported refugee children and their families. Salusbury World is about to embark on the co-production of an archive telling the stories of the early years of this school. This workshop will bring together some of these young people and families together with artists, designers and policymakers to explore the impact of the service and the potential architecture of an archive built upon multi-layered oral histories, visual artefacts and other intergenerational and cross-sector memorabilia. It is delivered with the project partners at London College of Communication and its students.


2 Workshops: Polyglots, Language Teachers and Learners

13:00 to 15:00 and 16:00 to 17:30

Language learning appears to be in crisis in the UK. Yet there are plenty of language ‘super-learners’, a thriving polyglot community and multiple languages being spoken in local communities. Open University researcher, Tita Beaven, brings A-level students, language teachers and polyglots – Richard Simcott, Lindsay Williams and Olly Richards – into two workshops with live artist, Natasha Davis, and poet, Laila Sumpton. Together they will explore why there’s disconnect between the so-called decline in languages in schools and universities, in marked contrast to the enthusiasm and dedication of polyglots. If being ‘plurilingual’ changes how you see yourself and the world, how can we inspire more people to learn more languages?


Thursday 23rd May

Symposium Part 2: Movement and Identity  

12:00 – 17:00

Symposium Part 2 – programmed by Umut Erel and Agnes Czajka – brings together a rich range of interdisciplinary research projects and creative collaborations from The Open University: including themes about ‘movement and immobility’; ‘Catalan political prisoners and exiles’; ‘desire lines – a dialogue on movement, belonging and the law’; ‘tales of precarity’; ‘home on the move – the changing notions of ‘home’ through poetry, translation and film art’.


Workshop: Building the ‘City of Refuge’ Archive


Digital makings of the City of Refuge is a comparative project exploring the ways in which urban communities – established and new – mobilise and manage change in the city after refugee and migrant arrivals. Building upon photographic footage and ethnographic stories across three neighbourhoods of Athens, Berlin and London, this workshop will explore the ways in which field research might be translated, transformed and re-narrated in a digital format for a public archive. City of refuge researchers, filmmakers and visual practitioners will join the branding and digital agency, TEMPLO, in this conversation. Digital makings of the City of Refuge is led by the Department of Media and Communications, LSE, in collaboration with the Department of Sociology at the LSE, and with Proboscis and Counterpoints Arts; it is funded by the Rockefeller Foundation ‘Resilient Cities Programme’.


Friday 24th May

 Learning Lab 1: Cultural Democracy and New Models of Art Commissioning

12:00 – 17:00

Join us for a conversation about how we might shift the axis of power within the decision-making and shaping of public art commissions and influence cultural policy. How might we ground the commissioning and curation process more deliberately within the diverse yet explicit needs of our neighbourhoods and in new communities of place and interest? What might this mean in practice?  Can active collaboration and co-creation between artists and citizens generate work that has the potential to be truly transformative: culturally and socially? With comparative case studies from Concomitentes, Madrid, coculture, Berlin, Ettijahat, Beirut, Create, Dublin, Platforma, UK and more. This conversation takes place as part of Counterpoints Arts’ Learning Lab Programme.


Workshop: Popular Culture and the Black Archive

15:00 – 17:00

Black music – from Jazz, the Blues, Reggae, Hip Hop through to Grime – has dominated popular music and culture for the last century. But do we know what’s in the UK’s archive collections about Black popular culture?  Who’s responsible for collecting this material, framing it and what are its sources? Where are the gaps and the buried and lost artefacts, and is this a fundamentally devalued and fragmented archive?  Who has the right to collect, shape and re-frame the Black archive for the past, the present and the future? Why is this an urgent question for communities, artists and activists, and national and regional cultural organisations? What role can digital media play in making archives more accessible and to whom? This conversation takes place as part of Counterpoints Arts’ Pop Culture and Social Change Strand.


Saturday 25th May

Learning Lab 2: Artists who Risk and Artists at Risk

12:00 – 16:00

 There is a very fine line between artists who risk and artists at risk. This line is increasingly blurred as artists repeatedly step into risky territories in their practice, becoming political actors, activists, agitators and cultural agents. With artistic freedom threatened and restrictions on freedom of expression and state censorship on the rise, what ethical responsibility do art and civic organizations – large, medium and small – have in defending and protecting the rights of artists they have commissioned? Especially those working with more vulnerable communities. Where are the local and global lines of solidarity between artists, arts organisations, advocacy, audiences, cultural policy, funders and grassroots communities?  A number of international artists and organisations whose work has involved them in different kinds of risk will be joined in person and via Skype by a range of actors working in this field: English PEN, Index on Censorship, International Rights and Arts Advisors and Artists at Risk Connection.  This conversation takes place as part of Counterpoints Arts’ Learning Lab Programme in partnership with Tate Exchange.

21 - 25 May 2019
12:00 to 18:00

Tate exchange, 5th Floor Blavatnik Building, Tate Modern, London SE1