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FOCUS ON

IDENTITY INTERNATIONAL

A GLOBAL ART AND CULTURE PROJECT BRINGS TOGETHER TWENTY ARTISTS FROM TWELVE COUNTRIES

A Call Out for artists working on the theme of 'IDENTITY' brings together an dynamic group of creative individuals and ideas. JUNE 2017


'Such is The Patriots Boast', 2016, paper cut Tracey Eastham

Cover image: Project member Szilvia Ponyiczki


ID - ENTITY

Curator's Comments

Responding to a call for artwork on the theme of 'Sense of Place' re-kindled a search for meaning in the 'Self' and for the forgotten pieces of my 'Identity'. I had been waiting for this moment and I was fortunate enough to recognise it. To use a well-known metaphor, I decided to walk down that road travelled many times, but never mapped.

If a project topic could help me find the honesty that I had been looking for, I knew that others could be searching too. I believe that by creating this group we could establish a global support network and an inspirational learning space. We know that something powerful can happen when people work together. I was of course primarily looking for compelling work, and I have been astounded by the talent, and integrity I have encountered. The 'Focus on Identity' Project, is a process, a hope and a calculated risk. I was looking for others from around the world who are either starting on a similar journey, who had been searching for a longer time, or had found their voice. I was hoping to gather people together who would give to each other, who would be willing to create together. The call attracted a large number of submissions, of which 17 were selected. You will notice that in this publication of artists from around the world, that there is no hierarchy based on experience, age, or number of exhibitions. There are twenty individual artists with affiliations and connections to fourteen countries. Entries are numbered 1 to 17. That is the order that statements arrived and were made ready for this publication. Number 16 includes four members of a co-operative who also chose to send in individual work. The common threads within all the art works are intellectual and artistic curiosity and a thirst for making sense of who we are and the social, political and cultural contexts in which we find ourselves. We are a global, diverse, creative group and together we can cultivate a distinct and significant voice. I believe this group is destined for a memorable and successful creative adventure. Thank you, everyone, for joining in and welcome to 'Focus on Identity'. George Sfougaras June 2017

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Fatemeh TakhtKeshian, Negotiating 2, Mixed media on canvas

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FOCUS ON IDENTITY INTERNATIONAL

ARTISTS' STATEMENTS AND CORE VALUES

FOCUS ON IDENTITY THE ARTISTS

Twenty artists and two collectives from

around the world working on the theme of 'Identity' within a fluid global context.

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EVAGELIA HAGIKALFA

HANNAH COBB

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SERENA LABORANTE


"Identity is the way we perceive and express ourselves. Factors and conditions that an individual is born with—such as ethnic heritage, sex, or one’s body—often play a role in defining one’s identity. However, many aspects of a person’s identity change throughout his or her life. People’s experiences can alter how they see themselves or are perceived by others. Conversely, their identities also influence the decisions they make: Individuals choose their friends, adopt certain fashions, and align themselves with political beliefs based on their identities. Many artists use their work to express, explore, and question ideas about identity." Quotation from MOMA 'Investigating Identity'.

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THE CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

a

March 2017

re you an artist who addresses

issues of identity, selfhood, religious affiliations, family history or nationhood in your visual or written work? Or have you or your family experienced displacement as a result of political events? We are looking for visual artists working in any 2D or 3D media, able to express in written form the feelings and drivers behind their work. We would also welcome writers of fiction and academics who wish to participate in the project. Some of the areas or questions that you may be addressing in your work are listed below. The list is not exhaustive (or meant to restrict participation), so if you feel that you would like to take part, please contact the curator. The outcomes of the project will be the: International links between artists in the UK and abroad. A global forum and media hub for artists working on the theme of identity, and reconciliation. A publication of visual work and accompanying narrative by contributing artists. Longer term collaboration on line. International engagement and exhibitions. Formation of a core group of international contributors to promote links and further develop the scope of projects using art as a tool for international dialogue.

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The original call for work, posted on the Curator Space website and in social media in February 2017. ome of the questions posed are listed below: To what extent you aware of the formation and use of cultural constructs, influences, norms, histories, myths and symbols within your practice? How are these concepts expressed? What motivates or inspires the use or allusion to these concepts? Is the work used to explore universal issues or as personal catharsis? If both, which concern predominates? Can cultural constructs, influences, norms, histories, myths and symbols be decoded by the audience of the work? Are the references overt, subliminal or hidden? What other related themes relating to identity find expression in your work? What role does family history, history of conflict or displacement play in the narratives or subjects depicted within your work and how are you influenced by your geographical and/or national setting? In what ways can art be used as a means of reconciliation? What would a global platform for the use of art as means for reconciliation look like?

George Sfougaras via Curator Space, March 2017. .................................................................................................................................................................................................... 6


PARTICIPATING ARTISTS There is no hierarchy based on experience, age, or number of exhibitions. There are 20 individual artists, from recent graduates to established international artists. The group was selected from a ďŹ eld of 50 submissions. Entry no 16 includes four members of an art co-operative project, who have sent work individually.

1 Fatemeh Takht-Keshian. Iran, UK 2 Evagelia Hagikalfa. Greece, UK 3 George Sfougaras. Greece, UK 4 Tracey Eastham. Uk 5 Frederic Bigras-Burrogano. Canada, UK 6 Hannah Cobb. UK 7 Szilvia Ponyiczki. Hungary, UK 8 Eleni Zevgaridou. Greece, UK 9 Simon Welch. UK, Singapore, France 10 Elmira Zadissa & Ramona Zadissa. Iran, Sweden, UK 11 Serena Laborante. Italy 12 Maureen Jordan. Ireland 13 Yuqi Xiong. China, UK

14 Yaroslava Kellermann. Ukraine, Poland, Germany 15 Hannah Ferreira. Trinidad and Tobago, UK 16 Barbara Ash. UK, India 16 Priti Vadakkath. India 16 Pritam Bhatty. India 16 Katarina Rasic. Serbia, India 17 Raksha Patel. UK

Participant no 5, Frederic Bigras-Burrogano' creates work as part of the 'Long Distance Call Art Collective'. Entry no 10 are Elmira and Ramona Zadissa, who are primarily social activists using art as a means of communication. The 'four number 16' entries are Barbara Ash, Priti Vadakkath, Pritam Bhatty and Katarina Rasic who were part of one collective application by Barbara Ash. 7


IDENTITY 1 Name Fatemeh TakhtKeshian Country of Origin Iran Country of Residence UK I explore the theme of identity by looking deeply at the subtle dialogue between ‘I’ and ‘Eye’; how identity is constructed by selfperception and others’ conceptions. About

Fatemeh TakhtKeshian, Negotiating 2, Mixed media on canvas

FATEMEH TAKHTKESHIAN

I have BA and MA in Painting from University of Science & Culture and Islamic Azad University in Tehran, Iran. I was awarded my practice-based Ph.D. in Art by the Lancaster Institute for Contemporary Arts Department at Lancaster University in 2016. My thesis was entitled ‘Reviving Identity: An Investigation of Identity in Iranian Artworks in the period 1958-1966 in relation to a Contemporary Fine Art Practice’. My work introduces a cultural understanding of the Iranian identity in the middle of the twentieth century. Emphasis is put on the way the Tehran Biennials (1958- 1966) refracted the changing dynamics in Iranian international relations, and the way the Iranian state used this cultural event to change the image of Iran outside the country. To do so, I introduce an original constellation of art practice, archival research on Tehran Biennials and the concept of Iranian identity within Persian culture, tradition and history. I also bring together the normally separate methodologies used in historical, theoretical, archival and art practice. What does the concept of identity mean to you? Why are you interested in the concept of ‘Identity’ in your work? I explore the theme of identity by looking deeply at the subtle dialogue between ‘I’ and ‘Eye’; how identity is constructed by self-perception and others’ conceptions. This project is a mixture of an academic and artistic treatment of the notion of self-observation that challenged my perception of my own personal identity. The experiences creating such fertile moments were those I lived during my time living in the UK and they profoundly reshaped my social identity from a local cultural context in the direction of a multicultural context. It is an identity journey that captures the transitional stage of becoming a PhD student in UK; from a girl dependent on the family into an independent artist; from stability into uncertainty. This process opened a lens with a panoramic view of how social identities interact, negotiate, and differ. From these observations arose the motivation underlying this research. 8


One or two pieces of work which mark important departures in your creative development, and the reasons why. ‘The I-Eye: The Multi-Layered Identity’ project includes drawing into recycled second-hand books. These texts, filled as they are with their previous owners’ dreams and ideas, are overlaid with her dreams, nightmares and life experiences. She aims to show their real faces and how they describe their identity, reflecting on them with the mirror of her own artworks. In the larger paintings old photos, symbols and traditional motifs are combined to make layered portraits of identity. The pieces in this series complete each other, like different sides of the same form. The faces, depicted in different situations, manifest the truth behind her portraits, trying to hide behind forms and colours. However, hiding it seems to be impossible, even by omitting the portrait and substituting it with an empty shape. Images and visual elements are woven together. Sketchbooks combine with films and pictures recorded in Iran and Britain, these images, elements, pictures and films lay over each other as semi-transparent layers. They collectively perform a circle: they walk and flow inside or outside of one another, cover or uncover and appear or disappear within each other. They are a mixture of different themes, dreams and imaginary places and states which have elements of secrecy and disclosure. This series of works evoke the conflict among the different layers of her identity.

6 Fatemeh TakhtKeshian, From Ideal Ego 9, Drawing and collage.

Fatemeh TakhtKeshian, From Ideal Ego 10, Drawing and collage.

What are the important concepts in your work generally? Personal and academic experience have allowed me to construct a sense of identity through a collection of socially-situated layers, by which I mean a layering of perceptions, experiences, and responses to a variety of transitions from the geographic to the conceptual. These layers of experience have produced valuable tensions from the day I left the comfort of my local community in Iran to venture into the challenging new culture of the UK. In my practice, I explore the notion of identity through different media: collage, painting, 3 drawing and video. While thoughts of selfhood, nationality and gender have long informed my practice, issues of identity have become prominent since I have moved to the UK. While researching identity, I have found myself as a multi-layered person: a combination of individual and collective. As an artist, I try to combine the fragments of myself while knowing that they lead to contradictions and ironies in my multi-layered self. Every time I examine a layer, elements of my identity appear or disappear as I try to replace or move the layers. I attempt to capture the dialogue between ‘I’ of reflection and ‘eye’ of depiction. The ‘I’ is an internal view that indicates a self-perception, while the ‘eye’ is an external view of the society towards that self. What would you like to achieve through being a part of this project? I would like to be in touch with other artists who mainly work with the concept of identity. Five most significant exhibitions/events The I-Eye, PhD degree show, , Lancaster, UK, September 2016 Takhtkeshian,F. ‘The I-Eye: The Multi-layered Identity’, Presentation at the Second International Identity conference held in Vienna, 6th-7th September 2016. FASS Building Exhibition, Lancaster University, Lancaster UK, Dec 2014 – September 2016 Takhtkeshian,F. ‘Formation of a Different Medium of Perception’; The Luminary, the on line post-graduate journal based at Lancaster University, (2013). In-betweenness, Group exhibition of Lancaster PhD Art and Film students, The Storey Gallery 2015 Layers of identity, Lancaster University September 2014 Participating and displaying works in Walking the Line: Drawing in Other Terrains symposium, Peter Scott Gallery, Lancaster University, 2013. 9


IDENTITY Perhaps, the fact that I don’t live in my country any longer, forces me to focus on the concept of identity more often unconsciously than not. A favourite quote and inspiration for a new project I am working on currently, comes from Parmenides and his theory of Ontology: “Nothing comes from Nothing, therefor Existence is Eternal”

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Name Evagelia Hagikalfa Country of Origin Greece Country of Residence UK

EVAGELIA HAGIKALFA About

I am a mixed media artist from Greece and I live and work in Portsmouth Southsea, UK. Although my public presence in the Arts is very recent I have been working with mixed media for the past 5 years. I combine my interest in storytelling and collecting to compose intricate works from found objects using collage and assemblage techniques. Narrative is integral to my work and I draw from mythology, philosophy, poetry and personal experiences. Before that I taught art as an secondary art teacher for 14 years. What does the concept of identity mean to you? Why are you interested in the concept of ‘Identity’ in your work?

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Identity is the one thing that defines us as sole entities. I can never escape where I come from, nor do I want to, the way I speak and what I say, the stories I grew up with and everything that helped me develop both as a human being and as an artist. Even when I try to move away from the clichés of my origin, they have a way to lore me back, as if my brain only works in this way. My whole being is culturally and historically anchored into the precise moment that I left Greece. It is a large part of me interwoven to every aspect of my life and being. That exactly moment, locked me forever into a rosetinted view, a time capsule in which I remained, while everyone else at home moved on, their identity changing and developing with time. No matter how far I travel or how much I changed as a person, my fundamental identity contains my heritage. Similarly, I am attracted to the identity of other people and even objects. As a collage and assemblage artist I collect odd things discarded as unwanted and although most of the time the history and memories involved with these objects are unknown to me, there is a strong urge to give back a new identity and purpose.


One or two pieces of work which mark important departures in your creative development, and the reasons why. The Light boxes are an on-going project using found photographic slides of all sizes and origins. Came as an accident and developed into an obsession, working with found slides has given me the opportunity to create little 3 dimensional worlds using layering and collage techniques. I make the lightboxes in old found boxes and during my last installation, I used old photographic lenses. The lenses make the work more interactive and personal, forcing the viewer to look in, in order to access the work and automatically enter a different reality. It all started after a friend donated his aunt's slide collection in an attempt to create space in his loft. He described her as a "spinster" that always traveled. Truly enough the slides documented her travels from the early 60s till her death. Her “Adventures” was an attempt to re-create her memories as I saw them, while knowing nothing about her apart from the above statement and bring back to life the places and people she saw through her camera. All 3 pieces were part of one installation and was the beginning for all other work in that technique. It gave me a unique way to create new worlds combining unrelated landscapes and moments in time, while they present a very possible 3-dimensional alternative reality. The Wisest Man was the next step and apart from developing my practice with the light boxes, it also allowed me to connect my interest in philosophy to my work. I use the “collages” to create a story, a dialogue almost with the concept of wisdom. Your recent FIVE most significant exhibitions or artistic events. 2017 Fringe Art Festival Bath, Flux, Bath, UK 2017 Fresh, Rural Arts, North Yorkshire, UK 2017 Patchworks, Taverne Gutenberg, Lyon, France 2017 Multiple Equation, Taverne Gutenberg, Lyon, France 2016 2017 From one Story to Another, Coastguard Studio, Portsmouth, UK

What are the important concepts in your work generally? As I mentioned above, I am drawn to philosophy. I have always liked to explore questions, as possibly most artists do, but never really looked in more depth the actual people that shaped our thinking until relatively recently. I started with the symbolism of mythology and moved slowly into the ancient and some modern philosophers and their approach to the same basic questions. Their conclusions are then set as questions for me to explore. What I attempt to do with my work is a visual conversation around our basic concepts of reality, life, ideology and identity. What would you like to achieve through being a part of this project? By being part of this project I believe I will have the opportunity to develop further as an artist. It is important to belong within a “community” with similar concerns but different approaches. It is equally important to be able to discuss your ideas and starting points and being challenged on your decisions. I am looking forward to see where this project is going to take me and every other member of the group.

THE WISEST MAN; MIXED MEDIA 11


Name George Sfougaras Country of Origin Greece Country of Residence England, UK

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IDENTITY

I am interested in symbols and ideas that shape us and our views of the world. The past, present and future are a fluid continuum. We slide between these three constructs often with little awareness.

'TALISMAN' SCREEN PRINT

GEORGE SFOUGARAS Curator of the 'Focus on Identity' Project

About I was born in Crete and have lived in England since my early teens. I taught art for many years in a variety of settings, undertook research and developed curricular materials which sought to broaden schools educational offer and to encompass a global perspective. I have worked in school leadership teams, and most recently as a head teacher. I carried on painting throughout my career and since 2015 I have been fortunate to be able to dedicate my time to making art. What does the concept of identity mean to you? Why are you interested in the concept of ‘Identity’ in your work? Whilst growing up in Greece was aware of living a distinctly mono-cultural environment, where roles and responsibilities were clearly defined and where I was fully integrated by birthright. Coming to England in the 1970s profoundly influenced my self-perception and my awareness of cultural identity. I became interested in my family's history and how that has shaped me personally, including in a physical sense. Being a 'European' in terms of my passport designation and country of origin, whilst looking distinctly not Western European, has been both a challenge and an asset; it has allowed me to access diverse cultural environments, ideas, aspirations and struggles. It gave me the means to look at life from a variety of perspectives. Most recently I have been able to make work which that attempts to capture the tensions and ideas that define who we are, others' perceptions of us and our subjective political contexts. 12


What are the important concepts in your work generally?

'HOPE' SCREEN PRINT

One or two pieces of work which mark important departures in your creative development, and the reasons why. 'Hope'

Cultural Geography and History are significant sources of inspiration. I know after many years of making art that if it is not felt in the heart, it will not look or feel or look right on paper. The main concepts in my work are time and our distinct or shared beliefs. I am interested in the way these elements interact, creating wonder and other times chaos. Some of my work is purely personal, expressing what moves me, what I love, or feel strongly about. Other times the commentary alludes to the state of the world, as in my series of works entitled 'Songs from my Father' where the beautiful lyrics and innocuous images refer to mass migration and human conflict. Your recent FIVE most significant exhibitions or artistic events.

The image above, made for Small Print International, is entitled 'Little Hope'. Mass migration from the Middle East to the Greek islands was at its highest. The image represents a moment in time and refers to human transplantation, danger and the hope of putting down roots in another land. It represents a move from academic painting to more graphic and often printed work. It is important as it made think about communicating a complex idea by using only a few pictorial elements.

2017 Commission for Digital Literary Map of Wales 2016 Winner 'Ideas-on-Paper', Midland Printmakers Open. 2016 Finalist in Capturing Human Rights for Freedom.org, Washington DC. 2016 Solo Exhibition Art Centre Chester. 2016 Winner Small Print International.

'Personal Maps' (Remembrance and Reconciliation).

I was moved to curate this project, in order to help create a successful international artistic community of kindred spirits, with a shared purpose.

I started to draw simple descriptive maps around May 2016. My mind turned to places and experiences that I have held onto, or more accurately filed for future reference. Echoes of my childhood and places half-remembered emerged in a simplified linear form, sometimes superimposed over archetypal faces of my younger self and my parents, or in the form of illustrations of places half forgotten, lost in time, or destroyed by war. In the image to the right, entitled 'Map' a history of my hometown unfolds in the shaded areas of the face. This has led to more graphic works based on historical research and archival material, such as the reconstruction of a part of old Smyrna from pre-1920s French insurance maps. Smyrna, modern Izmir is my mother's birthplace. Large parts of the city were decimated by the fire of 1922.

What would you like to achieve through being a part of this project?

'MAP' SCREEN PRINT

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IDENTITY

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Name Tracey Eastham Country of Origin UK Country of Residence UK

National identity, fragility, the preservation and presentation of architectural ruins within landscape, heritage, and history.

Tracey Eastham About I am an artist and lecturer in art higher education. I was born in 1983 and am based in the North West of England. I make work using paper that explores ideas around social, cultural and national identity and I am represented by Paper gallery in Manchester. My works themselves link to themes of ruin, preservation, and the artiďŹ cial construction (and deconstruction) of national identity. The work appropriates representations of landscape by selecting and then layering together imagery found and collected from science ďŹ ction and romantic literature, the English landscape painting tradition, and heritage publications. The works are consequently delicate, precarious, and at times, in a part state of collapse. This precariousness speaks of our relationship with the natural environment, which we attempt to encapsulate and frame with constructs of identity, class, and ownership. To this end, the use of gold comes from an interest in history as a valorising force that engenders social and cultural connection and identity.

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One or two pieces of work which mark important departures in your creative development, and the reasons why. 'Tower (destroyed)' made in 2015 was a key departure in my work as it was the first time I used sculpture in my work. This has opened up more sculptural and site-specific work and allowed me to develop the themes of fragility and ruin. It also cemented my fascination with the colour gold as an apt metaphor for how society valorises images of the past. What are the important concepts in your work generally? National identity, fragility, the preservation and presentation of architectural ruins within landscape, heritage, and history.

Cradle of Civilisation, 2017, paper cut out in glass bell jar

Your recent FIVE most significant exhibitions or artistic events. Solo exhibition at Paper Gallery, Manchester called 'Babel' based on the tower of Babel fable April 2017 Group exhibition at Kir Royal Gallery, Valencia called 'Paper Dialogues' - September 2016 Shortlisted for Greater Manchester Arts Prize - July 2016 Solo Show/Residency at Art Gene, Barrow-in-Furness - September 2015 Gallery Mentorship with Paper gallery, Manchester - July 2015 'What would you like to achieve through being a part of this project? Collaborations with other artists in order to further expand my work and open up different ways of presenting my ideas. I'm particularly interested in working with artists from different cultures as a way to reflect similarities or differences in the way that national identity is communicated through historic imagery.

Such is The Patriots Boast, 2016, paper cut out 15


IDENTITY Name Frederic BigrasBurrogano

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Country of Origin Canada Country of Residence UK

I use photography to document the ambiguity of preconceived ideas versus the expectation of the viewer. I am primarily interested in the construction of cultural heritage, the materiality of imagined communities and its semiotics.

Frederic Bigras-Burrogano a member of the LDC collective

About I am a Montreal-born visual artist currently based in Norwich, UK. My work is broadly concerned with national identities and the role rural communities and landscape plays in their formation. I use photography to document the ambiguity of preconceived ideas versus the expectation of the viewer. I am primarily interested in the construction of cultural heritage, the materiality of imagined communities and its semiotics. I aim at creating a space in which the viewer is forced to re-examine his position concerning a phenomenon or concept. What does the concept of identity mean to you? Why are you interested in the concept of ‘Identity’ in your work?

Because Identity is a loose concept, it's immaterial and hard to describe but at the same time easy to recognize. For me it is the perfect vehicle to discuss broader issues of nationality, belonging and self-reection.

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One or two pieces of work which mark important departures in your creative development, and the reasons why. I started using 3D scanning and 3D printing which echoes photography as a capture making technology, offers a material and demonstrative experience. (see image to the right). These objects further explore the documentary overtone that is prevalent in my practice but also challenge the limitation of photography and its burden of representation. What are the important concepts in your work generally? Long Distance Call is an artist collective consisting of Frederic Bigras-Burrogano, a Francophone Montreal-born artist and conceptual landscape photographer, and Marianne R. Williams, a cultural heritage information professional and researcher. LDC’s collaborative practice focuses on the use of photography, research, artefacts and 3D printing to investigate the liminalities of documentation, identity, and primary source materials. Concerns with the construction of national narratives through landscape and examining the bias of authorship in documentation and evidence are large areas of focus.

3D PRINT S

Your recent FIVE most significant exhibitions or artistic events. LDC has exhibited at Les Territoires (Montréal, Canada), Der Greif, a process 2.0 at the Krakow Photography Festival (Krakow, Poland) and at the Chinese European Art Center (Xiamen, China). LDC’s images have been published in the photography magazine Young Shot (Exeter, England) and the collective has delivered lectures at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences of Canada (Calgary, Canada), the University of Toronto, Xiamen University (Xiamen, China) and Champlain College (Saint-Lambert, Canada). Most recently, LDC was awarded a Creation and Research Grant from the Quebec Council of Arts and Letters.

What would you like to achieve through being a part of this project? To meet artists and researchers and create a platform to discuss and share ideas. Hopefully leading to publications or exhibition where our work can engage with one another and show various interpretation of themes that are common amongst our practices. It would be great to meet, maybe we could organize a conference with on line presenters for those who can't physically be there.

TOURISTS AT THE HOODOOS PHOTOGRAPH

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IDENTITY 6 Name Hannah Cobb Country of Origin England, UK Country of Residence England, UK

Making political art is something I could always see myself doing, from a young age.

HANNAH COBB About I live in Preston, England. I am an artist and a musician, working around the North of England currently. I take my artistic inspiration from the lives of other people, which I am fascinated by, hence the conception of my 'HOME' project; presenting the real experiences of people who were born/have lived in a country outside of the UK. What does the concept of identity mean to you? Why are you interested in the concept of ‘Identity’ in your work?

I've always been fascinated with the concept of identity because it is incredibly subjective. The majority of us struggle with knowing and understanding their own identity, but also be quick to project an identity onto an individual. Identity is one of the ever changing factors of life and is unpredictable. I feel as though 'Identity' is a perfect project title as it envelopes so many key artistic observations; it is always flowing, always changing and never perfect.

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One or two pieces of work which mark important departures in your creative development, and the reasons why.

What are the important concepts in your work generally?

My 'HOME' project has really taken me out of my comfort zone and made me talk to people in a way I never had done before, in terms of asking personal questions to people I don't know and sharing that information with others (with permission.) It is also subtly political, which I feel is necessary in the times in which we live, and making political art is something I could always see myself doing, from a young age.

The most important concepts are probably selfexpression of internal emotions and the concepts of understanding the human condition on a wider scale. As explained previously, this derives from my fascination with the theme of identity and how much I take from the world around me and attempt to express within my art, in order to be accessible for others.

Your recent FIVE most significant exhibitions or artistic events.

My Blanket entitled 'Paradigm' was my final A piece under the brief of 'Identity and Portraiture'. It holds a strong feminist message regarding the way women are approached and spoken to in a sexist way on a daily basis. I am proud of the needlework that went into this piece and feel it is one of my strongest yet.

FemFest, Leeds Harris Open Exhibition, Preston Running a Screen Printing Workshop at the Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Preston Porter & May EP2 Launch Gig at The Continental, Preston Escape to Safety Refugee Exhibition, Preston

What would you like to achieve through being a part of this project?

I would like a to achieve a wider understanding of international artistic practices and other people's concepts of the world around them. I am very excited to be working with a network of artists from around the world as I would love to hear how others express themselves with the concept of Identity.

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IDENTITY 7 Name Szilvia Ponyiczki Country of Origin Hungary Country of Residence UK

My research on dreams led me to the conviction that depicting my own dreams, partially modified by waking reasoning, could help others to find a way to their own self, realising their own identity, finding meaning and making sense of life experiences. About

Szilvia Ponyiczki

I am a Lincolnshire based artist of Hungarian origin. Interrogations about the self, the personal and collective unconscious and the representation of dreams are at the core of my work. I paint, mainly with acrylics and incorporate text elements into my paintings. After a long incubation period, of feeling lost, I started to concentrate on my unconscious. Firstly I just mapped my reactions, feelings and behaviour, searching for those childhood events that have shaped me. Later, I turned to my dreams, which I believe can lead us to understand ourselves if analysed sensitively and attentively. Lately, I have been painting dreams. I have started a Master of Fine Art course at Nottingham Trent University in 2016 after 15 years as an architect. What does the concept of identity mean to you? Why are you interested in the concept of ‘Identity’ in your work? I think that to live a happy and satisfying life, one has to believe in his/her own importance and in a meaningful existence. We have to notice and respect the uniqueness and value of every human being. To achieve these, having a clear sense of one’s own identity and individuality is the key. My research on dreams led me to the conviction that depicting my own dreams, partially modified by waking reasoning, could help others to find a way to their own self, realising their own identity, finding meaning and making sense of life experiences. 20


What are the important concepts in your work generally? The paintings I have created during the past couple of years are based on my own dreams. I have a large number of dream sketches but the ones I turn into a painting are the ones that depict the struggles of the self, which is trying to find its way in life, looking for its real identity. My style is figurative surrealistic. I prefer to depict at least part of a human body in my paintings, believing that it helps the viewers place themselves into the depicted situation. The feelings provoked can lead the audience to scrutinize their own struggles, to look into themselves.

One or two pieces of work which mark important departures in your creative development, and the reasons why. ‘ Caught in the Whirl’ – part of the ‘Deconstruction of the Self’ series (Image shown above). The reason why I think this image is an important departure in my creative development, because it summarizes the messages of my previous works on the topics of the unconscious, identity and multiculturality. The painting clearly depicts the struggle of a human being, trying to find his/her way in this world. Our age is an epoch of overwhelming media control, in which we are sensing the world around us through real and unreal news. We are being caught up in the circulation of life, which is a whirlpool that pulls us down if we let it happen. Being unable to communicate our own opinion; unable to make it count. (The fish represent lost souls and the unconscious, the base of the painting is canvas fully covered by multilingual newspaper articles, symbolising the immense effect of media and multiculturality at the same time.)

Being a non-native British, incorporating multicultural elements in my work is an important part. We are shifting to a more global world and our societies mirror that. Feeling isolated in our increasingly complex urban spaces is an issue for many of us. I respond to this situation by using newspaper texts in several languages, as an integral part of my paintings. These partially readable and understandable text elements can be related to the ways of the unconscious. Therefore the use of these elements represents my way of thinking as a whole. Your recent FIVE most significant exhibitions or artistic events. ‘Event One’, exhibition, Primary, Nottingham (UK), July 2017 ‘Threads’ exhibition, Dundas Street Gallery, Edinburgh (UK), June 2017 Threads’ exhibition, Espacio Gallery, London (UK), March 2017 eNRA’ exhibition, Art Gallery of the Mining Museum, Rozsnyo (Slovakia), November 2016 RSMA, Mall Galleries, London (UK), October 2016 What would you like to achieve through being a part of this project? I would love to work in collaboration with likeminded people, discuss their art and identity related thoughts and works, to have a wider understanding of this topic that really interests me and on which I base my artworks for quite a while now. 21


IDENTITY 8 Name Eleni Zevgaridou Country of Origin Greece Country of Residence United Kingdom

All my sculptural works share a fascination about the human connection, body language and individuality.

Eleni Zevgaridou About

I was born in Thessaloniki, and lived most of my life in Athens, Greece. After 28 years in the communication and advertising sector, I turned my full attention to art. In 2010-12, I studied sculpture under Professor Sławomir Andrzej Mieleszko at the Art Institute of Maria Skłodowska-Curie, University of Lublin, Poland. Prior to that period, for more than 10 years, I was experimenting with mixed media, painting, sculpture, attending the workshop “Topos Ekphrasis” in Athens, with Anna Mailli. In 2015 I received a Master’s degree in Fine Art at the University of Lincoln, UK. In 2016 I was elected Member of the Royal British Society of Sculptors. What does the concept of identity mean to you? Why are you interested in the concept of ‘Identity’ in your work? Developing a sense of self or an identity is essential to become a mature individual and therefore form mature societies. Identity issues emerge stronger than ever before due to societal demands, stress, multicultural environments and increasing lack of values and ideologies. For the last 4 years I am looking deep into identity realising how fragile has become to keep a strong sense of self nowadays. Sculptural portraiture suggests an enhanced experience by sharing the space with the spectator and by its palpable nature. To experience our own three dimensional and full scale representation in a sculptural way confronts us with self issues, by addressing issues around representation, issues of verisimilitude and the uncanny.

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One or two pieces of work which mark important departures in your creative development, and the reasons why.

What are the important concepts in your work generally? My work takes a variety of forms, abstract, figurative and narrative. All my sculptural works share a fascination about the human connection, body language and individuality. Your recent FIVE most significant exhibitions or artistic events. My first Solo Exhibition with the “NOMATEI - A Koinônia of Minumental Figures “ Project (2016), Gallery Genesis, Athens Greece

“NOMATEI - A Koinônia of Minumental Figures “ (detail shown above). This work examines the interactive nature of minumental, representational, full body portraitures arguing that the body posture could be equally important with the face for personal recognition. I started this journey by exploring people’ s body language, making minumental full body figurative sculpture. I created a collection of full body portraits of individuals within an institution and then placed them back into the institution, both spatially and socially, through the gifting of the objects themselves back to the subjects they represent. I investigate the interaction between the viewer and the object by conducting a variation of stagings of small scale sculptural portraits looking for the differences in reactions and perceptions of the spectator. This process demonstrates the complex web of interactions which take place in the process, between agencies which might traditionally understood as artist, subject, viewer, participant, recipient, audience and object. My attempt is to demonstrate how a small scale human figurative sculptural process/object can open up resemblance to the sitter into a complex social, aesthetic and conceptual framework.

Taking part in a Group exhibition-tribute to George Zongolopoulos “Silent presence: Meeting Zongolopoulos, 45 years later”. The Hellenic American Union and Hellenic American College (HAEC), in cooperation with the George Zongolopoulos Foundation, organised an exhibition in tribute to the renowned Greek artist featuring works by contemporary Greek sculptors and painters around a core of original artwork by George Zongolopoulos. (2016-2017) G. Seferis’ way. Group exhibition, Under the aegis of Festival Phillippon, in 2016, exhibiting in IANOS gallery Athens, also travelling to the 59th Festival Phillippon in Kavala, Greece The Archive Project (MACE): Accidents Need not Happen. Project Space Plus, University of Lincoln, UK, a group exhibition on the Media Archive for Central England, a screen archive for the East & West Midlands that exists to preserve the rich cultural and social history of the Midlands as reflected in film. What would you like to achieve through being a part of this project? Looking into identity is a long journey through which I learn about the people and myself and this gives me great hope that we will manage through the difficult times we live. By investigating this subject I attempt to fortify my understanding of this world and I hope that this project will open new paths to my mind and making and that I will share the journey with same minded people. 23


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IDENTITY Name Simon Welch Country of Origin British subject born in Singapore. Country of Residence France

There's often a telescoping between microcosm and macrocosm and a paralleling of personal and family history and wider historical events.

Simon Welch

About My father worked for the government so we moved a lot when I was a child, but mostly around the London area. I originally studied painting in Liverpool in the 1980s. I then spent a couple of years in Egypt and Canada (for the contrast), eventually ending up in France in the mid-90s where I resumed my art studies. I got into making short films (via installation pieces using video projection) which are shown in art exhibitions and film and video festivals internationally. I teach film editing part-time at Strasbourg University. What does the concept of identity mean to you? Why are you interested in the concept of ‘Identity’ in your work? Identity is a complex concept that provides endless possibilities in artistic terms concerning one's own identity as a person, or an artist but also in relation to other people, one's ancestors in the past or else the family, the group the neighbourhood, the nation, culture, religion and so on. At the present time, some of these elements are becoming overly politicized and therefore decisive and dangerous, and this provides equally important material for artistic exploration. I have some experience of this in that I'm an expatriate Briton living in France with two French children and am now in a precarious situation as a result of the Brexit vote.

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One or two pieces of work which mark important departures in your creative development, and the reasons why. I think, in general terms, in my work there was a shift away from painting towards more conceptual approaches which ended up with video installations and then single-channel videos which were unedited single-shot sequences in real time. One of the first of these sequences to be projected as a film in its own right was "Tamarins" (2006) in which visitors were filmed reflected in the glass of what appears to be at first sight an empty cage at the zoo. I gradually became more interested in editing as an artistic process and the first really edited film in this sense was "Cast" (2012), which followed some night fishermen on a beach. What are the important concepts in your work generally? I think I'm still in the process of figuring out what the work is really about, to be honest. But I guess a number of recurring motifs and ideas are apparent. There's often a telescoping between microcosm and macrocosm and a paralleling of personal and family history and wider historical events. There are also various examples of transformation and the effect of filming itself on this process. The film "Domain and Range" (2015) approached the notion of identity in terms of the fate of a medieval French sect whose members were persecuted and fled to London, paralleled with the history of certain members of my own family who were also members of a religious sect who were persecuted in the early 19th century. Both these cases echo recent examples of religious intolerance in France and elsewhere.

The ďŹ lm "Capsule" (2016) shows the run-up to the birth of my twin sons who are half British and half French but who also have Italian, German and Spanish ancestry. The ďŹ lm also references my own birth in post-colonial Singapore and the absurd problem this presents when it comes to asking for British nationality for the twins. Your recent FIVE most signiďŹ cant exhibitions or artistic events. Filmideo 2017, Index Art Center, Newark, NJ, USA, 2014, 2015 & 2017. Cairo Video Festival, Egypt, 2014, 2015 & 2016 FIVA 06 International Video Art Festival, Buenos Aires, Argentina, December 2015 & 2016. Frontale International Film Festival, Wiener Neustadt, Austria, 2015 & 2016. Szczecin European Film Festival, Szczecin, Poland, 2015 & 2016. What would you like to achieve through being a part of this project? I think it would be interesting to show work with other people who have a similar take on things in terms of the way things seem to be going in the world today. Various forces seem to be conspiring to increasingly create conflict and ostracize those who are perceived as somehow different in a way that has an uncomfortably 1930s feeling about it. Maybe it's possible to help modify such polarities through artistic means.

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IDENTITY 10 Name Elmira Zadissa & Ramona Zadissa Country of Origin Iran/Sweden Country of Residence England

We try to highlight aspects of already heard stories, the repeated words finding new meaning by being put in a different context.

Portrait and diary page, 1991

Elmira Zadissa & Ramona Zadissa

About We consider ourselves to be activists who use art as a mean to create room for new ideas, experiences and practices. We are interested in storytelling and have worked with various projects in Sweden, Iran and the UK. We mainly use mixed media, photography, metagraphy and text. What does the concept of identity mean to you? Why are you interested in the concept of 'Identity' in your work? As a social construction which plays a major role in how we relate to our surrounding, and in return how our surroundings perceive us and mechanisms others use in order to reect, highlight or ignore elements of our self-image. We ďŹ nd identity to be a constant negotiation, hence interesting to explore and examine.

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Left: 'Aude', mixed media collage, 2017 Above: 'Miche'l, mixed media collage, 2017 Images from the portfolio 'Brexit Stories'.

One or two pieces of work which mark important departures in your creative development, and the reasons why.

The decision for the UK to leave the EU is one that not only transforms the socio-political structures of the country but also consequently affects people’s self-image and understanding of their identity. We use mixed media collage to document how EU nationals feel they are affected by Brexit, their views on their future in the UK and their strategies in response to the referendum. We want to highlight how identities are negotiated and constructed. Brexit has created a situation where many white (western) Europeans feel stigmatised in the same way people of colour and black people do in their everyday lives. With this project, we wish to highlight some of the mechanisms which racialises bodies. Moreover, we want to create a broader understanding about the stigmatisation many people face because of their race, ethnicity, religion and origins. This project is a contribution to portraying a turbulent time in the history of the UK and Europe.

Your recent most significant exhibitions or artistic events. Brexit stories, Lucy Cavendish college, Cambridge, UK 19-20 May 2017 Breaking Noon, City Library, Umeå, Sweden, 9-30 May 2013 What would you like to achieve through being a part of this project? Through this project we hope to connect with other art makers, space changers around the world, those who question the concept of imposed and chosen identities through their work.

'Daniel' mixed media collage 2017

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IDENTITY

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Name Serena Laborante Country of Origin Italy Country of Residence Italy

I pay particular attention to that which relates to folk traditions and religion that often originates from pagan culture which is a paradigm for expressing personal spirituality

Serena Laborante

About

I'm an artist and basically, I'm a drawer; my work is always composed by drawings or paintings even if it concerns installations. Drawing is the key motif in my artistic research. I have started working as set designer in some laboratory of scenography for a theatre in Italy, whilst simultaneously exposing my work to galleries, festivals and centres of contemporary art in Europe and US. What does the concept of identity mean to you? Why are you interested in the concept of ‘Identity’ in your work? Identity is the key with which we can acknowledge people deeply, by exploring past and traditions we can identify, co-locating people through the interpretation of memory. I'm interested in the concept of Identity because I want to explore the theme of memory, firstly through my own memory, by depicting my memories related to my childhood and my family. Then memory in general, related to collective and folk traditions. I believe that just representing my past I can touch the audience, because each one of us experiences specific situations or emotional conditions. It is these common, shared experiences that I wish to stir within the audience. Identity is a multitude of memories both personal and collective, inside us. 28


One or two pieces of work which mark important departures in your creative development, and the reasons why. I wish to create an invisible relationship that may connect viewers with my works through a sensitive and intelligible strong bond, organised by my artistic practice which is based on my interest about memory. When I talk about memory I mean personal memory, as well as memories in relation to the body. In terms of the body, my work alludes to the way we store up our memories in a philosophical and spiritual context and how we do conserve the feelings related to memories and the memories themselves.

What would you like to achieve through being a part of this project? I wish to be part of an artistic collective, working together and to attain a certain recognition, through publications and exhibitions, hopefully within all the countries represented by the participating artists.

What are the important concepts in your work generally? I talk about collective memory which relates to religion and anthropology. I am interested in highlighting my own memories as well as collective human memories. I pay particular attention to that which relates to folk traditions and religion that often originates from a pagan culture which is a paradigm for expressing personal spirituality within ‘primitive’ contexts. In my work, this concept is displayed in images representing rituals arising from collective memory and folk traditions, which then will be transformed in personal memories within us, in a cyclical way. Your recent FIVE most significant exhibitions or artistic events.

Artistic residencies 2016 two months at Ars et Mundus Centre of Contemporary Arts of Kaunas (Lithuania) 2015 one month at the C.o.C.A. Centre of Contemporary Arts of Modica (Italy) Collective Exhibitions 2017 Premio Arte Marchionni, MAGMMA Museum, Villacidro (Italy) 2017 Fine Arts Exhibition, Decatur Arts Festival, Dalton Gallery Agnes Scott College, Decatur GA (U.S.A.) 2016 From Studio Floor, Cambridge Guildhall, Cambridge (UK)

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IDENTITY Name Maureen Jordan

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Country of Origin Northern Ireland Country of Residence England

The work I would choose at the moment as a selfportrait is ‘Stains’, made from an old bedframe hung with stained glass fragments. The luminous glass references ‘sacred’ art and the power of religious iconography to conjure fragmented memories.

About

MAUREEN JORDAN

I was born in Belfast and grew up in Northern Ireland, the third child of an economic migrant. My childhood was full of stories: the heroes and heroines of Ireland alongside the Kings and Queens of England. We were in Ireland but not Irish, British but not English, many layers and claims on our identity. Add the stories of the church: I was born in original sin, apparently, yet the Virgin Mary held up as the ideal woman, the mother of the young man tortured on a cross. Martyrdom was big in Ireland in those times as was sexual circumscription. In the fissures, I filled in the gaps with other stories: fiction, fantasy, poetry and later, drama and film. Going to other places in my imagination not only provided escape but also perspectives from alternative worlds and insights to the ‘other’. My career has been working with and around artists, never quite having the courage, self-belief or opportunity to fully ‘become’ an artist until relatively late. What does the concept of identity mean to you? Why are you interested in the concept of ‘Identity’ in your work? Seamus Heaney has expressed it: “The early life-experience is central ….you aren’t so much trying to describe it as trying to locate it….. like putting your hand into a nest and finding something beginning to hatch out in your head”. My cultural identity is the particular which gives access to the universal – a universe seen through a keyhole. As I grew so did my scepticism of meta-narratives alongside a deepening understanding of ambivalence, contradiction, conflict, paradox and fabrication. I seek transformation along the avenue David Morgan describes as ‘via negativa’, confronting enigma, the disturbing sense that the world is not right. This kind of work engenders a sense of the enigmatic, a profound scepticism, a sensibility of suspicion but one that is still prepared to hope. The new presence of the work succeeding the presence of the sacred in the work. It’s like my identikit makes contact with another story and something altogether else begins to happen or to hatch out. Also, I want to bear witness to my time and place. 30


One or two pieces of work which mark important departures in your creative development, and the reasons why. My current work-in-progress is a semi-figurative piece which will form part of an installation/ exhibition in Folkestone in October in collaboration with another artist, Clare Beattie. This is my first collaboration and also the first time I have worked with something approaching a ‘figure’. The work,(a detail of which can be seen on the left) plays with ideas about the savagery of (our) nature, subversion of the fairy-tale and the concept of metamorphosis. According to Jane Warner: “Metamorphosis is a dynamic principle of creation, vital to natural processes of generation and evolution, growth and decay, yet it also threatens personal identity”. I am using animal pelts, feathers, an animal skull, leaves, blood, flowers, nests and animal ‘artefacts’, materials I have not used before but also ‘natural’. An influence is the myth of ‘Leda and the Swan’ particularly the poem by WB Yeates and referencing Celtic animism.

What are the important concepts in your work generally? Cultural influences on identity and place Political motivations in general and feminism in particular Spirituality and sexuality. Your recent FIVE most significant exhibitions or artistic events. Installations: ‘The Milk of Human Kindness’ Nottingham Light Night February 2017 ‘The Infant Phenomenon’ ‘Art in the Woods’ 2016 sculpture trail Holmfirth ‘Juice’ in junkstop sculpture-trail for New Mills Festival July 2012 Exhibitions: ‘Stains’ Ashurst LLP Gallery, London. August 2016 – Feb 2017 ‘SHOT’ Brewery Tap Gallery, Folkestone October 2014 What would you like to achieve through being a part of this project?

Detail from 'Stains' painted lass and metal

I work in isolation and live in a semi-rural location. I have limited connection with other artists and no longer travel as much as I would like. I toured a lot when younger and now miss that diversity of cultures. So, the sense of being part of a diverse community. Opportunities to present my own work and gain an understanding with and connection to, the work of other artists. An international, culturally diverse platform but one that is grown organically with like-minded artists.

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IDENTITY Name Yuqi Xiong Country of Origin China Country of Residence United Kingdom

My main focus is on the tension between feminism and its cultural impact in my country.

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Yuqi Xiong

About I am a Chinese teacher who works in Jiangxi Science and Technology Normal University in Nanchang, China. I have graduated from Hangzhou Normal University and have got a master degree and bachelor degree there. Now I am studying MA Fine Art at the University of Southampton. The subject of my research is related to social gender, my outcomes refer to videos, photographs and drawings, and installation art. What does the concept of identity mean to you? Why are you interested in the concept of ‘Identity’ in your work? The reason why I was interested in “Identity” originated through my observation of family dynamics. Now my main focus is on the tension between feminism and its cultural influences within my country. At the beginning, I was just curious about unequally social distributions and opportunities in terms of gender. Actually, I have seen more possibilities in terms of both positives and negatives in real life. The ‘One Child’ policy, new challenges and notions in marriage, made me think more deeply about gender roles and expectations. I deal with the actual issues in reality, but I am also challenging them for a better future.

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What are the important concepts in your work generally? The context of my work is to take the lives of women as key to the consideration of gender stereotypes, gender differences, social phenomena and values in a new way. I am concerned about all forms of oppression about gender in all aspects of life. I have tried to look at the social, political, material, psychological and cultural 'norms'which transmit the complex behavioural patterns and social codes that negatively impact on women.

One or two pieces of work which mark important departures in your creative development, and the reasons why. The prominent changes of my works occurred in the field of media. In previous work, I was more concerned with ready-made object and installation art. The outcomes are always static objects, then I thought there were some limits in the narrative. So I started to consider video art and performance. Dramatic arrangements connected with documentary elements that seemed more engaging and open. My work 'White in White' seen on the previous page as my 'self-portrait' represents a creative breakthrough. I was aware of coming back to think about life itself, incorporating more subjects, such as history, human nature and religion and bringing those diverse elements in my work.

In my the detail of my piece Inside/ Outside' shown on the left, I combined shirt collars with kitchen supplies and found objects to represent genderisation of physical appearance, beyond the body. The use of the symbolic red colour was another important element in my work. Your recent FIVE most significant exhibitions or artistic events. Ceramic work Moonlight won Bronze Prize of “Jiangxi Star” Creative Design Contest and took part in the related exhibition, China, 2016. Installation works and painting works took part in Jiangxi Contemporary Art Exhibition, China, 2015. Work Meal took part in the Seventh International Biennale of Fiber Art, China, 2013. As the only representation of Hangzhou Normal University took part in the Second International Art Design Postgraduate Teaching Seminar and Exhibition, China, 2012. Work City Impression won Excellent Prize in the Rongchen International Biennial, China, 2010.

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IDENTITY Name Yaroslava Kellermann

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Country of origin Ukraine Country of residence Poland/Germany

My works sometimes serve a dual purpose: communicating meaning whilst being visually pleasing as objects.

Yaroslava Kellermann About I was born in Ukraine. After the graduation in Slavic Philology (Kyiv, 2006) and Strategic Management (Warsaw-Viterbo, 2012) turned back to my vocation - jewelry design. Having begun with loomed necklaces gradually passed to resin (cold enamel) and vitreous (cloisonné) enamel (since 2015). Interested in art, Greek mythology and history. What does the concept of identity mean to you? Why are you interested in the concept of ‘Identity’ in your work? I finally understood my grandmother’s reverence and respect for each and every breadcrumb, many years after the Iron Curtain had finally fallen in 1991 because some people started talking about Holodomor, the famine of 1932-1933. I discovered that my great-grandmother lost four children, through famine. The story of my family is not unique, it is as usual as multiple stories of almost each family from the Soviet-ruled part of Ukraine. Suffering, death, betrayal, even cannibalism had a significant impact on the identity of my countrymen. Psychological effects last for generations resulting in people being reluctant to use initiative, distrusting government, feeling uncertain about the future, conformity, fear of revealing one's self-identity to the others, inferiority and the emergence of Stockholm complex. It is not only a tragic history, it is Ukraine's present. The events of Holodomor demonstrate the dangerous influence of totalitarian authority on individuals, and the whole society in general; how the traumas are passed further and replicated in the future generations; how important is to weep and to heal the society exposed to this trauma and finally to step over it, discarding stereotypes, superstitions and prejudices. These significant events, which still resonate in our history are important in my take on life and help to shape my work. 34


"Nature morte"

What are the important concepts in your work, generally? One or two pieces of work which mark important departures in your creative development, and the reasons why. Two of my works are important to me. These are "(Lost) Paradise" (2016) (above) and "Nature morte" (2017) on the right.This work is my personal milestone. Having finished it I decided that I would like to convey more meaning in my enamels in terms of current events; I would like to make the spectator think beyond the aesthetic appearance of my jewellery. The first one reflects on how identity is shaped by means of cultural exchange and interpenetration. Being Ukrainian I often think of the clash of my native culture (symbolised by Oranta, Scythian pectoral, St. Sophia church) with another way distinct way of life. Will they evolve, stop existing or will they be assimilated? There is no answer yet. The trigger for this project was the war in the Eastern Ukraine. Attacked by the flow of negative news featuring people dying, showing destroyed cities without water and heating, overall aggression and violence I tried to sublimate my impotency in creating an art object. In a wider sense, the motive symbolises any cultural struggle, where the weakest is 'doomed' and the strongest nourishes from the latter and flourishes till the very moment when the next conflict arises. Then the battle repeats. This topic is a universal theme occurring since time immemorial. Moreover, we are witnessing such battles every day and take part without even being aware of our participation.

I am enchanted by femininity and its evolution through the centuries. Many of my works showcase women of previous centuries, modern ones or fantastic creatures; all are beautiful in their diversity. I explore concepts through objects which have aesthetic value and which sometimes deal with difficult subjects. My works sometimes serve a dual purpose: communicating meaning whilst being visually pleasing as objects. Your recent FIVE most significant exhibitions or artistic events. ART NOUVEAU contemporary jewellery“ exhibition (Vicenza, September 2016); Web Community Award Winner of the JVF Jewelry Design Contest "Fuchsia inspirations" (November 2016) Exhibition for the finalists of "Fuchsia Inspirations” Contest January 2017 (Vicenza, Italy) Participation in “Art in Dream” project (since January 2017) "Nature Morte" by Amber Trip exhibition (Vilnius, Lithuania), March 2017 Planned exhibition in Ramybes Gallery in July 2017 (Palanga, Lithuania).

What would you like to achieve through being a part of this project? I would like not only to share my vision of identity with the others as well as learn from them, but to make my art more widely available through the synergy of the group. Other aspects I would like to work through are the phenomenon of on line identity and the coexistence/conflict of national and cosmopolitan dimensions of identity. 35


IDENTITY

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Name Hannah Ferreira Country of Origin Trinidad & Tobago Country of Residence UK

I knew I was different and I knew they knew I was different but none of us could articulate it.

About I am a recent Fine Art graduate based in Yorkshire. I specialise in painting. I understand identity as a conflict or synthesis between how you are seen by others and how you perceive yourself. It is a social construct, a culmination of experiences of culture and surroundings - your norms and values, and how this is recognised when confronted by difference. I find issues of race and representation are bound up in this and can complicate how you are defined by others and by yourself. As a white woman born and raised in the Caribbean as a young girl, I saw myself as Trinidadian but also recognised my English roots from my mother. This hybridity of ethnicity is characteristic of Caribbean Islands. Moving to England as a child was difficult as this hybridity was not understood. I did not fit into a binary identity of the Caribbean that people understood. I believe this has to do with a lack of authentic representation of the Caribbean. I looked like the children in my class but did not sound like them. I knew I was different and I knew they knew I was different but none of us could articulate it. Today, when people are surprised to discover my heritage, I cringe as I read their mind jump to conclusions of an imperialist ancestry because of my skin colour even though my Trinidadian family are primarily of Portuguese descent. I admire the writings by cultural theorists Stuart Hall and Homi Bhabaha in how they explore the complexity of cultural and national identity in a globalised world.

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One or two pieces of work which mark important departures in your creative development, and the reasons why.

My painting shown above, entitled Greenhouse #1 uses a greenhouse as a metaphor for Caribbean diaspora migrating to the UK.

My painting titled 'Jigsaw' reflects on this area of representation as I recreate an old toile depicting white colonisers on a tropical location. I create my version of white people in the tropics by using imagery from old family photos, painting this story into existence. The textile-like design is interrupted by a canvas jutting into the side. A leafless tree is painted on the canvas. It is an image that was striking and unusual to me when I moved to the UK because trees in Trinidad do not lose their leaves in this way. The bold juxtaposition of painted panels speaks of this confrontation or clash of cultures.

The way an independent micro-climate is needed for these imported tropical plants to survive in the UK echoes the difficulty of adjusting to a completely new environment. The grid of the glass frames and the strong, sprawling foliage is a nod to the experience of attempting to break out of binary classifications of nationality. Historically, the greenhouse became stylish in the Victorian era; when Britain's Empire grew rapidly across the world.

Significant recent exhibitions/artistic events: Re:creation - View Two Gallery, Liverpool. (2016) A Room With a View - The Storey Gallery, Lancaster (2017) Surplus - 49 Darley St, Bradford (2017) 53 More Things to do in Zero Gravity. Degree Show - Lancaster University (2017) Through being part of this project, I am interested to see the methods and visual languages harnessed by other artists to explore similar issues of identity, migration and representation. It would be great to recommend academic texts, books or films that have been influential and to get feedback on work from artists who have had a similar experience. It would be great to see how the same theme can be explored from so many different perspectives and in a plethora of media and I hope we are able to exhibit work together in the future. 37


Name Barbara Ash Country of Origin U.K Country of Residence U.K & Bangalore

IDENTITY

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Member of the Melting Pot Co-operative Project

Exotic playground Watercolour, acrylic, canvas, 2016

Barbara Ash

About I am an artist based in Bristol, UK and sometimes Bangalore. I create installations, sculptures and drawings, exploring issues around childhood, identity and femininity, often through large-scale toy and doll imagery and painting. I trained at the Royal College of Art, in London, and have been working in India since 2006; as I fell in love with Bangalore. I have been intermittently based there since 2010 working on projects and exhibitions. What does the concept of identity mean to you? Why are you interested in the concept of ‘Identity’ in your work? I find it intriguing to peel off the layers of identity that go to make up our character; the many factors qualities, beliefs and background history that form a personality with their own particular position in the world. Working in India the last few years led me to examine & challenge my own cultural assumptions & also discover the way, as a foreigner abroad, other people perceived me as a citizen of a certain country & with a certain colour of skin. My work uses autobiographical starting points, with initial roots from the personal sphere, but also corresponding on a wider level to broader universal themes. One of the most significant events in a person's life, namely the loss of a parent, is something that is not recognised as an issue of import in societal terms, but instead often misread & derided as “mid-life crisis”. Having lost both parents in recent years I have tried to address these themes in my work as a form of personal creative therapeutic exploration, to commemorate & celebrate the (loss of the) couple who brought me into the world & have contributed deeply to my “identity”. 38


One or two pieces of work which mark important departures in your creative development, and the reasons why. Melting Pot – This project is the result of a partnership between Katarina Rasic & myself to form a working artist collective, and use our "international links", by connecting artists and shows in India, where we have working bases, with our home countries of Serbia & U.K. My approach with the Melting Pot project was to explore the complexities of cultural perceptions and identities, nationalism, colonial legacies and family history, and play around with ambiguous ideas of “belonging” following a period of nearly 10 years of dividing my time between India & England. This direction produced many changes to my life, both personal & professional, & set myself on a completely different tangent. Melting Pot brought to the fore areas, both personal & political, in a mix, possibly not that comfortable. This touring exhibition was the first time I had managed a project & co-ordinated an artist collaboration, I am happy to be involved as I feel it has opened up new areas of production & artist empowerment for the 4 women group & somehow made sense of my strange two country dance. What are the important concepts in your work generally? My work explores female identity, cultural conditioning, freedom and childhood experience. I was brought up Catholic and am currently exploring my family history and critiquing early influences, in part following the recent death of my mother who was a staunch Catholic. My great-grandmother was from a small village in Cork, Ireland, and the family fled to London, like many others as part of the Great Famine Exodus. I am now addressing how these religious influences have an underlying impact on my childhood experience and, subsequently, a hovering presence in my artwork. I plan to visit Cork and am very interested in the whole Magdalena Laundry era and Roman Catholic social-sexual attitudes to women and how this permeated the wider climate in the context of women’s status in society. Your recent most significant exhibitions or artistic events. Melting Pot, Project Management & participation in a four woman touring show, launching at Kashi Art Gallery, then travelling to Kerala, India, Sublime Galleria, Bangalore, India, Kombank Art Hall, Belgrade, Serbia, Serbian Embassy, London, the Nehru Centre (the Cultural wing of Indian High Commission), London & then Gallery Beyond, Bombay. 2016 – 2017 (an ongoing project) Royal West of England Academy, selected for the current shortlist to become an Academician, & invited to show in the upcoming Annual Open, 2017. British Women Artists' Annual, Judges Favourite; commended by Mary Allen, former Secretary-General of Arts Council England, 2015 What would you like to achieve through being a part of this project? I think it’s important to collaborate with other artists & make working connections. Artists often work in isolation & its constructive to develop networks to support each other & exchange ideas, information & opportunities. I am very interested to see other artists approach to the theme of Identity & how we all relate to this common area.

I find it intriguing to peel off the layers of identity that go to make up our character; the many factors - qualities, beliefs and background history that form a personality with their own particular position in the world. Elephant in the room Watercolour, acrylic, canvas, 2016

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IDENTITY

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Member of the Melting Pot Co-operative Project Name Priti Vadakkath Country of Origin India Country of Residence India

Priti Vadakkath Priti Vadakkath, 'Four times Five is Twelve- Untitled-1', 2010,

Watercolour

About Born in 1971, in Fort Kochi, Kerala, I live and work in Kochi. I am an Artist and a mother of young person with Autism. My work is as much informed by my cultural background - having been brought up in a large, catholic joint family - as much as it is with my daily interactions and observations with my son and his success and failures in coping with the same world that he and I inhabit. What does the concept of identity mean to you? Why are you interested in the concept of ‘Identity’ in your work? Identity is a set of beliefs and conviction that one has. This is often informed by one's interactions with and personal reading of the world one lives in. This concept of Identity is evolving and mutating, unlike other personal traits and values like honesty, courage, etc. Personal Identity is relevant only in its identification, which necessarily involves an outside reference point. This predication that only by being identified as one or the other does one give meaning to one's identity or, does it have to be that way, is the question that I try and define and seek answers through my work. 40

One or two pieces of work which mark important departures in your creative development, and the reasons why. The first piece of work (shown below) entitled : 'About Face-1' , was the first time I explored working up close with the face and how I could use the explorations of that to reveal much more . Being essentially a watercolour artist it helped me push the medium.


Within every marginalized community, exists a subsection that is often most marginalized, those who live within the margins of their mind, enduring mental and neurological setbacks. My endeavour is to mitigate that and bring them out from the margins.

Your recent FIVE most significant exhibitions or artistic events. 'I AM' - Group show of 25 women artists ,curated by Ushmita Sahu , AM Multidisciplines Gallery , Kolkata.

The second piece of work (see above) entitled: ' They are no more and they were no less. (Critical Dust) ' For this work the curator had given all participating artists a Clipboard and asked us to use it in any way in our work , our interpretation of what 'the clipboard' means to us. This work helped me explore a different medium than my normal practice and brought about it's own unique creative challenges. What are the important concepts in your work generally? In my works, there is often a play between a child’s perspective on life – with all its innocence intact – and the more ‘grown-up’, ‘worldly-wise’ and cynical view of it. It dwells on the delicate internal negotiations between freedom and order and asks the question about the price one pays and the innocence one forfeits, in our search for truth.

Melting Pot - Gallery Beyond, Mumbai

The Women's Project – curated by Tanya Abraham, Kashi Art Gallery, Kochi

Clipboard - curated and organised by Shijo Jacob, Durbar Hall, Kochi

Reviving the Retinal, curated by Kathleen Wyma at Gallery OED, Kochi What would you like to achieve through being a part of this project? Within every marginalised community, exists a subsection that is often most marginalised, those who live within the margins of their mind, enduring mental and neurological setbacks. My endeavour is to mitigate that and bring them out from the margins.

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IDENTITY Name Pritam Bhatty Country of Origin India Country of Residence India

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Member of the Melting Pot Co-operative Project

Pritam Bhatty 'Facade' Watercolour

About I am an artist who did her formal training at Sir JJ School of Art (Drawing and Painting), Mumbai. I have had exhibitions of my work in India and abroad. What does the concept of identity mean to you? Why are you interested in the concept of ‘Identity’ in your work?

One or two pieces of work which mark important departures in your creative development, and the reasons why. The shift from oil on canvas to water colour changed my work. In the oils I used the space in a more realistic way, there was a backdrop of a room or landscape in which my main character/s were placed. With water colours the picture space became the proscenium. . It also opened up my use of colour.

The concept of identity is something I’ve been made aware of constantly as I come from a very mixed background. India is such a melting pot of language and culture that a common question on meeting strangers is ,”Where are you from?” Due to the fact that there is so much diversity, people slot each other in terms of ethnicity, religion and language. In this sense I am “unslot-able”.

There is a disconnect between what I consider tolerant, secular and civilised and what I see happening. 42

'Bad Faith" Watercolour


Images above: From the series Venus Flytrap and Bloodlines. Manipulated photographs. What are the important concepts in your work generally? I began to explore the idea of family and memory; of diaries and photo albums as receptacles of memories and family history. I realised it is close to impossible to share and experience the memories captured in them in the same way as the creator intended and therefore my looking at them was entirely subjective. The idea of layering of memory and time opened up interesting possibilities of how I could use the material in my work. The idea of a needle piercing the surface and holding all the elements together is symbolic of keeping memories, emotional connections and the layering of time. Floral patterns recur often, as a child they are the most vivid recollection I have of clothes, upholstery and curtains in my grandfather’s house. In the smaller works, ‘Bloodlines’ I zoomed in to photographs of children, these seem in contrast to the adults, candid and far more animated. Your most significant exhibitions. 1993 Solo exhibition of drawings and paintings at Cymroza Art Gallery, Mumbai. Influenced by significant literary sources such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s (One Hundred Years of Solitude). 2006 Gallery Beyond, Mumbai, Watercolours inspired by ‘Women Who Run with the Wolves’ by Clarissa Pinkola Estés. 2008 New Delhi, Group Show, The Journey Up. A satirical look into the art world. What would you like to achieve through being a part of this project? Any other statements you would like to make regarding this project. The question of identity and belonging is pertinent today more so with the current government that we have in India. There is a marked polarisation taking place along communal and religious lines. I find myself being marginalised as a minority as I don’t have a strong allegiance to any particular religion or community partly due to the inter-marrying in my family of different nationalities and faiths and partly as an atheist. There is a disconnect between what I consider tolerant, secular and civilised and what I see happening. In this project the challenge is to be able to address this in visual form. 43


IDENTITY Name Katarina Rasic

16

Member of the Melting Pot Co-operative Project

Country of Origin Belgrade, Serbia

Country of Residence Mumbai, India About I am an ar st from Belgrade, Serbia, working and living in Mumbai, India. Through travelling and experiencing new places, my art is constantly changing and developing new levels, exploring different ways of expression, through pain ng, installa on and performance work. What does the concept of identity mean to you? Why are you interested in the concept of ‘Identity’ in your work? In my artistic practice I have been exploring the ideas of belonging, tradition, female identity. Concept of “home” and national identity is particularly interesting topic for me to explore. Hailing from a country with a turbulent history and living on a different continent (India) I can say that my cultural identity was formed as a blend of many different influences. I was born in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia which fell apart in 1992 and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was formed, in 2003 it became Serbia and Montenegro, and in 2006 just Serbia, so without changing my location I lived in 4 countries. Therefore, I never formed a strong national identity; rather I see myself as a melting pot of different cultures, costumes and ways of thinking and understanding, blending together in one personality. 44

Katarina Rasic What are the important concepts in your work generally? Concepts of home, identity and cultural rejection and acceptance prevail in my artworks.. Investigation of my inner self through performance art and how it reflects in my painting is the main interest of my work. My immediate surroundings as well as my cultural background intermingle in these works, creating an interesting blend which always pushes me forward. Your recent FIVE significant exhibitions or events. 2017 – Mumbai conversation, performance project in collaboration with Art Oxygen and artists Anne Murray and Teresa Paiva, Juhu Beach, Mumbai, India. 2016 – Colombo Art Biennale- Performance art program, Colombo, Sri Lanka. 2016 - Melting Pot-organizing-participating in travelling exhibition of 4 women artists: Barbara Ash (UK), Gayatri Gamuz (Spain), Pritam Bhatty (India) Venues: April - Kashi Art Gallery, Kochi, India. May - Sublime Gallery, Bangalore, India. July - Kombank Art Hall, Belgrade, Serbia. July - Nehru Center, London, UK. July – Serbian Embassy, London,UK. January 2017 – Gallery Beyond, Mumbai, India. 2014 - Art Adda project in collaboration with Jeetin Rangher supported by Indian Foundation for Art, Bangalore, India.


One or two pieces of work which mark important departures in your creative development, and the reasons why. Cocoon performance, Venkatappa Art Gallery, Bangalore, India, 2016 (Top left). In series of performances under the name Cocoon, I started the investigation of the concepts of artist transformation to the artwork, notions of home, personal and private space and its blurred version in the busy cultural world of India. I believe this was an important discourse in my work and my inner transformation and development of the new concepts and ideas for the future works. “Katarina’s performances are raw investigations of cultural rejection and its role in the acceptance of an inner self. These works defy the notion of a separation between the artist and the work and exemplify the miraculous transformation of the artist, the viewer, and the work itself into a visceral experience of fear, anxiety, and release, all emotions entwined in the daily experience of being a foreigner living in the busy cultural world of India.” – Anne Murray

Yugonostalgia ; Size - 108x90 cm; Technique Acrylic, oil and gold leaf on canvas; Year 2016. This artwork has an important meaning to me because it reflects back to my cultural heritage (communist Yugoslavia) and on my constant rejection of the same. Interesting is that I transform the Christmas star from an original photograph into the communist star, investigating the important changes that happened in one culture and society in a very short period of time. What would you like to achieve through being a part of this project? I believe that collaboration and connection between artists working on common grounds is the key to building a greater and stronger art community.

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IDENTITY Name Raksha Patel

17

Country of Origin UK Country of Residence UK

My recent work explores the early experiences of Asians arriving from East Africa to Leicester in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

RAKSHA PATEL

About A visual artist, gallery educator and lecturer that explores themes of migration, race and identity. What does the concept of identity mean to you? Why are you interested in the concept of ‘Identity’ in your work? My recent work explores the early experiences of Asians arriving from East Africa to Leicester in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The work is inspired by both factual imagery, i.e old photographs as well as personal memories, which are bought together and juxtaposed with the physical industrial landscape of Leicester today. I have been photographing derelict factories that are now overgrown with plants that I place next to sumptuous silks from the Indian Sub-Continent in my paintings.

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'Little Lakes' Pencil on paper

One or two pieces of work which mark important departures in your creative development, and the reasons why. The painting 'An Opulent Veneer' (above) shows a lace fabric hanging within a window frame. In this work the window frame becomes a metaphor for containment, the loosely hanging drapery has a wayward nature in the way that it falls yet is structured through the frame; it is indicative of the containment of cultures from abroad that live in terraced housing, and to some degree are limited behind the closed doors and windows rather that open spaces that people live and occupy in hotter climates. The drawing 'Little Lakes' (top right) shows two women of Indian descent struggling with the colder damp climate that Britain offers. The women walk home crossing puddles in delicate silks from a day's work. The puddles in this drawing are cyphers for the struggles that people faced when adapting to a different culture and climate, yet were overcome with little difďŹ culties as they are minuscule in comparisons to the waters that were crossed across continents.

Your recent FIVE most signiďŹ cant exhibitions or artistic events.

Lives, Loves and Loss, Traces at National Trust, Fenton House, London. 2016 The Trouble with Painting Today, Pump House Gallery, London, 2014 We Were Trying to Make Sense, One Shantiroad, Bangalore, 2013 Forget-Me-Knot, Pitzhanger Manor and Gallery, London 2013 Jerwood Drawing Prize, Jerwood Space London and touring. 2011/12 What would you like to achieve through being a part of this project? Dialogue, connections and the work to be exhibited and seen on a wider platform.

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Hannah Cobb Detail from 'Paradigm' Embroidery

FOCUS ON IDENTITY ISSUE 1 JUNE 20117 COLLATED AND EDITED BY GEORGE SFOUGARAS


“NOMATEI - A Koinônia of Minumental Figures “ Eleni Zevgaridou

FOCUS ON IDENTITY MAGAZINE Images contained herein are the sole copyright of the artists included in this publication. Content may not be reproduced for commercial purposes, without the express permission of the artists.


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