Running from 28th September to 18th October, the festival took a purely digital approach for the first time ever.
For 2020 we were joined by Magid Magid In Conversation with European-based guests involved in human rights, activism and politics including founder and acclaimed young leader Yasmine Ouirhrane, Syrian visual artist Rasha Deeb and comedian Mo Omar.
The festival featured 10 new commissions that explored global cultures and refugee experiences from different perspectives across the world. These included three new audio pieces by leading refugee theatre group, Phosphoros Theatre, Sun Up, Rain Falls, River Rises in partnership with High Tide’s Suba Das. The soundscapes featured compositions by Danish composer Mira Siegel, and beautiful illustrations by Midlands-based illustration duo Pickle Illustration.
Maral Mamaghanizadeh’s captivating film, If You Want To Be Alive…Read My Lips, gave us a unique insight into her experience of being a Deaf artist. The piece demonstrated the difficulties of engaging politically when you do not have access to sound.
Manchester artist, Parham Ghalamdar, worked with innovative Limina Immersive to create Graffiti, Art and Protest in Iran, a beautiful virtual reality exploration of a painted water tunnel in Iran with music by Iranian hip-hop artist, Maydar.
Another Story Collective took audiences on an intergalactic journey in their work, DOWN UP SIDE, a voyage through space that traced Bedos’ journey from the Democratic Republic of Congo to the planet Mancunia through spoken word poetry, soundscapes and 3D illustrations.
Beshuar Hassan, a traditional Kurdish musician from Iraq, and Brant Tilds, a Jazz trumpet player from Detroit, shared their own journey in Between Two Rivers. The pair formed a deep bond through music, their podcast offers an interesting insight into how the Coronavirus pandemic altered their usual way of working together.
Iman Tajik’s performative photographs for This is Now Not for Me also responded to the Coronavirus pandemic. Comparatively, there was a sense of freedom in internationally-renowned artist Mohammad Barrangi’s Wonderland. The exhibition uses Persian calligraphy and illustration with modern printmaking techniques to transport viewers into a world of epic adventure. The preview of Mohammad Barrangi’s works is due to be followed by a large-scale exhibition in Leicester in 2021.
Similarly, this year’s festival shared a teaser of Bloodland Embrace, an animation that didn’t fail to move viewers with its depiction of the isolation caused by seeking refuge, alongside a soundtrack shifting from idyllic to eerie. The award winning interactive arts studio, Invisible Flock, will collaborate with Majid Adin and three young European animators to present the final animation of pan-European friendship and collaboration in 2021.
Journeys Festival International is supported using public funding by Arts Council England. Graffiti, Art and Protest in Iran, Bloodland Embrace and In Conversation with Magid Magid plus Sun Up, Rain Falls, River Rises were supported by Liberty EU with funding from Creative Europe.
See highlights from the festival in the film below and enjoy some of Journeys Festival International 2020 here.