Nestled in the heart of South Kensington, NYLA gallery is playing host to the Barakat Trust’s exhibition ‘Migrating Histories – Moving Identities’ part of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s Nour Festival of Arts.
The preview showcased a visual dialogue between reinterpreted maps and diagrammatic representations expressing the intimate relationship between peoples, histories, cultures and their natural environment. Set within the context of the constantly evolving and rapidly changing face of the Middle East, themes around migration, polarisation, destruction of heritage and the impact on identity and the human body were explored and debated.
The sense of continuous movement and migration of cultural landscapes was evoked by a number of emerging artists whose work spanned mixed media, digital and textiles. In particular the participatory, audience led ‘world installation,’ designed by NYLA, grew and evolved during the course of the evening like a pulsating organism, bringing to life the complex and delicate stories, the astonishing ancestry and bewildering intricacies behind each visitor as guests mapped their ‘migrating histories’.
‘The story of migration can be full of hope and optimism and beauty yet at the same time destructive and full of horror. Now more than ever, the focus needs to remain on the visual stories of migrating histories and our moving identities. We have all migrated from somewhere…
Who are we? And where do we come from? And does it even matter?’ These were the questions and conversations whispered throughout the evening as guests became involved in the interactive wall installation, inviting visitors to map their ‘migrating histories’. Other works included digital maps by NYLA and Hadiyah Hussain, an installation by Khaver Idrees, limited edition prints by Kevin Jackson, and a series of moving photographs by photo journalist and writer Sarah ElRashidi.
All the artists, to some degree or another, have been touched by the story of migration whether through their personal journey and cultural ancestry or the present day landscape of media and politics. Some of the artists have taken objects and earth from the Middle East and reinterpreted this in mixed media work to create a sense of beauty juxtaposed with a sense of horror allowing each onlooker to draw his or her own conclusions.
The exhibition runs throughout the Nour Festival. There is an “In Conversation” with the artists on Thursday, 3 November, from 18.30 – 21.30.