Assemble in Retrospect

MedeArts presentation, Assemble Dialogues March 2024, Goethe Institut Cyprus

Assemble brought together an exhibition of artworks and dialogues focusing on the rights of artists whose practice has been disrupted by forced migration and the role of culture within refugee support.

In March 2024, D6:EU and D6 Culture in Transit produced the Assemble Dialogues and Belonging exhibition. The events were held in the buffer zone of Nicosia, Cyprus at the Goethe-Institut.

The program brought together cultural and refugee advocacy NGOs from Cyprus and invited guests from England, Jordan, Scotland and Spain, alongside some of the artists who were showcasing their work at the exhibition. The artists shared firsthand experience of what it is like to continue their  artistic practice whilst being in exile from their home country.

The Dialogues fostered space for open exchange and offered a deeper understanding of different contexts for all involved; and shared opportunities and challenges for working with artists whose practice has been disrupted by forced migration. Insights from the Scottish Refugee Council illuminated the ways in which Cultural NGOs can collaborate with the Cyprus Refugee Council, while the presentation by Moving Artists, an NGO based in Bilbao Spain, revealed ways in which NGOs can facilitate mobility and cultural exchange between countries that have restricted access to one another. In particular, how Moving Artists has succeeded in enabling movement and transnational exchange for cultural workers whose practice is threatened by situations of conflict, isolation, instability, censorship and cultural crisis.

Safi Al-Sakran and Aseel Eisa from MedeArts (Jordan)

The discussions were both captivating and enriching. They were an opportunity for the creative and cultural practitioners involved who are concerned with the politics of care within their work to delve deeper into the roles of various organisations, gaining valuable insights into the realities faced by artists in exile. Not only did it give potential opportunities for the future in the form of collaboration, but also offered case studies to look at when wanting to be an agent of change as a cultural practitioner or artist.

The Belonging Exhibition in Cyprus was curated by Shirin Zeraaty and showcased five selected artworks from the original virtual exhibition and a new contribution by a Cypriot artist. 

The Dialogues and the Belonging exhibition wouldn’t be possible without the contributions and wisdom of local and international organisations that participated. A heartwarming thank you to Manos Mathioudakis from Cyprus Refugee Council, Mónica Laiseca from the Scottish Refugee Council, Soizig Carey from Cross Borders (Scotland); Safi Al-Sakran and Aseel Eisa from MedeArts (Jordan), Ixone Sadaba from Moving Artists (Spain)for sharing their insights and expertise with our audiences. We also thank Eleni Angastiniotou from Visual Voices (Cyprus) alongside their selected artists for the IN EX(ILE) LAB program, Eisa Baddour, Irkalla and Nina Itova, who spoke to us about their experience within the program.

To this extent we also offer our congratulations to the Belonging exhibition’s curator Shirin Zeraaty for her exceptionally caring curation and for walking us through her process of curating. A special thanks to Efi Savvides, Amak Mahmoodian and Myriam Dalal for sharing the process of their practice and their work as participating artists and Alia Gargum, Oleksandra Lytvyn and Zariq Rosita Hanif for showing their work at the exhibition alongside the others.

Curator Shirin Zeraaty presenting the process of putting together the Belonging Exhibition

The guests and organisations that made this program a reality. From left to right, back row first: Irkala ( IN EX(ILE) LAB artist, Visual Voices), Clymene Christophorou (D6 Culture in Transit), Matt Denham (D6 Culture in Transit), Aseel Eisa (MedeArts). Safi Al-Sakran (MedeArts), Myriam Dalal (Becoming Exhibition participating artist). Front row from left to right: Shirin Zeraaty ( Curator ), Andrea Carter ( D6 Culture in Transit), Argyro Toumazou (D6:EU), Paria Goodarzi ( Rapporteur for the Dialogues), Ixone Sadaba (Moving Artists), Soizig Carey (Cross Borders), Mónica Laiseca (Scottish Refugee Council) and Amak Mahmoodian ( Belonging Exhibition participating artist and Rapporteur for Dialogues)

The Assemble program was produced by D6:EU and D6: Culture in Transit and funded by Arts Council England, Four Nations International Fund, Paul Hamlyn Foundation and the Anna Lindh Foundation. Thank you to the Goethe-Institut Cyprus for their support.