Five highlights from our “A Canvas of Courage” exhibition
During 30 Nov – 10 Dec 2023, we had the honour to co-host our “A Canvas of Courage” exhibition with Amnesty International UK and Union Chapel in Islington, London. We had more than 400 guests at our Opening Event and Discussion Forum, which featured speeches, performance and sharing by leading activists, artists from across 7 countries.
It took 24 hours to drive the Pillar from Denmark to the UK
It’s the first time that the flagship sculpture of our exhibition, the Pillar of Shame, is shown in the UK. Jens Galschiøt, the creator of the Pillar of Shame, drove 24 hours across 4 countries with a crew of 5 people to transport the Pillar to the venue. It took more than 6 people to fixate the 4.5 metre sculpture! The Pillar has found a new temporary home at Amnesty International UK headquarters post exhibition.
The Pillar was unveiled in a dance performance
Loretta Lau, a performance artist from Hong Kong, performed her opening dance around the Pillar of Shame. Her dance was inspired by the people who used their bodies as the last weapons against authoritarian regimes. Making full use of candles, white cloths and twine, she performed a ritual to commemorate the people who suffered in various forms of genocides, at the same time unveiling the Pillar of Shame.
Leading human rights artists performance
Two more amazing human rights activist performer groups also performed in the event. Audrey Byeon, artist and dancer that escaped from North Korea, performed a dance combining folk traditional (200-year old Hwang Jin Yi dance) and modern dance, aiming to create a link that connects people, country and the world. Rahima Mahmut and her “London Silk Road Collective” group brought to us music that featured Turkish, Azeri, Iranian, Afghan, Uzbek, and especially Uyghur traditions.
More than 10 speakers from 7 countries shared at the Discussion Forum
Our multi-disciplinary panel of activists and artists from 7 countries shared incredible insights on the dynamic roles and evolving challenges of activist arts in the midst of geopolitical changes we have seen in the world. From visual art, performance art to poems, from gallery to community, from griefing about the past to shaping the collective identity for the future, the discussion provided multi-dimensional perspectives on the topic and was fruitful for all the participants. (details in our other Journal post)
The Community Table united artists, therapists and participants from all ages
Participants of the show engaged, reflected and connected on the theme of “courage” using postcards, drawing, writing and miniature building materials, facilitated by moderators from Art Refuge, our collaborator of the event. Some people wrote poems to human rights defenders via Amnesty International’s Write to Rights project. Families with young children sat around the table contributing their postcard-sized artworks which were added to a live community art piece “A Wall of Courage”.