Guest post by ONCA Gallery
Brighton celebrates refugee week with the exhibition The New Babylonians, Gil Mualem-Doron at ONCA Gallery. The exhibition presents several participatory art projects created in the past year with young adults, refugees members of The Migrant English Project (MEP) Brighton and CARAS organisation London, and Art Rich (Portsmouth).
The project presents a complex and challenging participatory project on the theme of belonging, memory, place and identity that has resulted in captivating art that captures the spirit of our times and this great city. This city is New Babylon, not exactly the fantastical playground that was envisaged by the Dutch artist Constant Nieuwenhuys in the late sixties, nor the city in which a tower is built, tall enough to reach heaven. The New Babylonians are the people of a town that, as William Morris envisioned, is nowhere, yet the foundations of that city can be seen everywhere, if you just care to look.
At the heart of the exhibition is a large room installation – “Mesubim” (meaning in Hebrew ‘to go around’ as well as ‘sit at a dining table’). The installation comprises of a series of hand drawn and digital collages printed on porcelain plates and a recording of conversations with the participants. The work is based on a six-month participatory art workshop with a group of refugee members of the English Migrant Project who meet once a week to learn English and eat a home-cooked meal together. The collages were created through conversations and online searches for images of places from where they came, juxtaposing them with places in Brighton, where they currently live.
The second project in the exhibition is ‘The New Union Flag project’ – a proposal for a new flag for the UK that reflects on the UK’s colonial past and celebrates the country’s cultural diversity. Beginning at the end of 2014, a few months before Brexit, ‘The New Union Flag project’ has been touring the country and engaged with ten of thousands of people, among them Labour Leader Jeremy Corbin, through workshops in schools and museums, photo shoots, exhibitions, street interventions and demonstrations. The project has won the support of Art Council England and Counterpoints Arts. The exhibition will present a short history of the project and a short film made by Marcia Chandra about the project during its exhibition at Tate Modern in 2017.
In ONCA’s lower basement gallery, Mualem-Doron will exhibit his new participatory project ‘Protesting For Diversity’. ‘Protesting For Diversity’ is an online campaign for cultural diversity, created collectively by various groups in the UK through art workshops, photo shoots and rallies. The project is a response to the huge rise in hate crimes in the UK post Brexit, the rampant xenophobia in the mainstream media, and the derision politicians level at the importance of cultural diversity. As part of the exhibition, visitors are invited on Saturday, 23 June to participate in a placard-making workshop. The placards will be taken on 24 June for a ‘Refugees are Welcome’ parade in Brighton, organized by Hummingbird Project and for a photo-shoot at the Together event at the Dome.
The exhibition includes three events:
21 June 6 – 8pm // Private View with artist talk & live music by Jamal Alsakka
23 June, 1-4pm // Refugees Welcome Parade – Placard making workshop & photoshoot
24 June, 11am – 4pm // Brighton Dome: Refugees Welcome Parade
ABOUT GIL MUALEM DORON
Gil Mualem Doron‘s works have been exhibited in galleries and museums in the UK, Europe and the Middle East, among them Tate Modern, People’s History Museum (Manchester), Turner Contemporary (Margate), and Liverpool Museum. His work has been shown in magazines and discussed in several books. He has been awarded artist-in-the-community scholarships, the Henri Ford Conservation Award, and grants from the Arts Council England of the British Council. Gil founded in 2016 Brighton’s SEAS – Socially Engaged Art Salon which stages social and political art and events. SEAS is based from 2018 at the Black and Ethnic Minorities Centre at the heart of Brighton (BMECP). His work is multidisciplinary, socially engaged, activist and political, and combines research on art, architecture and urban culture. Gil’s artistic activities integrate various media, from drawing and photography to installations and performances, but they also include such trivial acts as walking, eating, demonstrating, burning, guiding, conversing, collecting garbage and donating blood. He has created participatory and collaborative works with various disaffected communities, among them Palestinian youths, refugees and homeless people. His work from 2000-2013 forms the basis of the book “Mind the Gap – Transgressive Art & Social Practices” (2014). From 2015 he has been working on the New Union Flag Project that was exhibited across England in Museums, Galleries, Libraries, community centres, festivals and social and political events. The project has been supported by Counterpoints Arts, Platforma and The Art Council England. More about Gil’s work can be found here: http://www.a4community.com