Multiple identities, nationality, home and boundaries — the interface between where we come from, who we are, and where we go.
Over the past century, global culture has altered, morphed and become something entirely unique. The movement of people, values and customs has created cultural exchanges that serve to enhance any community. Assimilation is always challenging, but effectively we grab pieces of each other’s cultures and somehow make them our own. Identity is never straightforward and often complex, how you identify or see yourself and the many roles we carry, as individuals will always be tricky. One organisation, motiroti, is going to great lengths to explore these quintessential themes in the broadest context through short-film, which is working across three countries: Britain, India and Pakistan.
motiroti is an internationally acclaimed arts organisation that transforms relationships between people, communities and spaces. Learning is core to their philosophy, and they foster participation and collaboration across disciplines and between different cultures. Making multiple perspective artworks for the public realm, the projects, both artistic and educational, challenge and tease the perceptions of artists, organisations, audiences and individuals.
Artistic Director and co-founder, Ali Zaidi, says, “Representation has been at the core of making our work and on top of that accessibility. The aim has always been to make work, which is about questioning, subverting and transforming perceptions. That concept has been the guiding principal to this day. motiroti has been going for over ten years and the name was inspired by our first Bollywood musical, which was created from the point of view of; why is there not any Asian theatre around that is addressing the contemporary? At that time, it was normally adaptations of European literature. There was no way that I could have seen my mother or a young kid go and see a production like that, so it was only talking to a handful. There were masses of people that were disenchanted, because they were not getting to see anything that reflected their identity.”
360° Britain India Pakistan is motiroti’s latest project. It is a three-year programme of exchanges that will bring to light a rounded and contemporary picture of the cultural dynamics between the three countries. Sixty films, artists’ residencies and a new collaborative work will deliver outcomes that are both artistic and educational, yet also extend beyond the realm of the arts.
360° explores notions of identity, home and boundaries in the 21st century, in partnership with local, national and international cultural institutions, crossing geographical, linguistic, racial and religious divides. The first project launched as part of 360° Britain India Pakistan was 60×60 Secs, which comprises 60 one-minute films by 60 artists, commissioned by motiroti via an open call, and consists of 20 artists each from Britain, India and Pakistan. Working with established and emerging artists from the South Asian Diaspora, 20 from each of the three countries to present their unique views on identity in an age of globalisation through short-film is a massive undertaking. Zaidi continues, “In terms of getting artists to work within the confines of a one-minute film, it is derived from how advertisements work. All the commercials that you see on television are only selling cars and what-not, I thought, why can’t we instigate ideas and why can’t these one-minute films be a catalyst for something more than buying and selling?”
60×60 Secs introduces fresh artistic voices, images and ideas that transcend existing cultural and geographical definitions to unravel complex identities and stories. Pushing the boundaries of where work can be seen, audiences will encounter these films in conventional as well as unconventional settings: TV, digital arts and film festivals, art galleries, cinemas, public spaces such as shopping malls, cafes and restaurants. 60×60 Secs looks beyond media, political or religious definitions to unravel complex identities and stories, which contribute to the idea, that cultures are evolving.
Showing 60×60 Secs in alternative spaces only enhances the project’s accessibility, Zaidi says, “Knowing that we are living in a fast food society, our attention spans are limited. I wanted to get the films out through various channels. 360° is constructed in a way that it’s always Britain, India, and Pakistan; you won’t see one without the other, in total it is a three-minute ensemble.”
The first installation of 60×60 Secs was showcased at The Shunt Lounge in London and The Vibe Gallery in June and July. 60×60 Secs will premiere in India and Pakistan simultaneously in September and October 2008. Filmmaker Shekhar Kapur says, “motiroti’s work is like being immersed in a wide-screen cinematic experience with surround sound. Their thoughtful and beautiful projects inspire and tickle the sensibilities of an exceptionally wide range of audience.”
The second part of the programme will consist of three dynamic residencies bringing artists from Britain, India and Pakistan together to illuminate themes of “home and beyond”. Hosted in all three countries, these exchanges will encourage the participants to push the boundaries of their practice by questioning, challenging and learning from each other’s visions, beliefs and methodologies. During the third phase of the programme a new collaborative work combining digital technology, new media and live interventions will be created based on the residencies. The final works will tour internationally and become a vehicle for further connectivity between artists, communities, countries and continents.