a painting involving a bird with red feathers and black Arabic writing on a blue and yellow background
Artwork by Ali Saied Ashour, as part of 'It Was Paradise' by Rachel Gadsden

Unlimited International Collaborations – Taking on the World

Unlimited is funding a number of international collaborations, bringing together artists from across the globe. Through Unlimited, these collaborations have undertaken Research and Development of their new creative projects, so now what happens next, and more importantly – why? Jo Verrent, Senior Producer for Unlimited, explains…

The idea of Unlimited commissioning international collaborations goes back to 2012, when five new pieces were created as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. Now, five years later, we get to revive that tradition; it’s a fantastic way to share learning about access, aesthetics and societal issues across the globe.

Unlimited is proud to announce that we are funding full commissions of the following projects, which we’ve already supported through R&D periods, across four art forms:

Music

Baluji Shrivastav is working with blind musicians and dancers from both the UK and India to create Antardrishti – Inner Vision, an immersive performance also utilising the skills of Addictive TV to add video footage for an immersive experience. Isabella Tulloch had the privilege of popping over to Goa to see the results of their R&D in October – you can read more about her trip here. They plan to develop the work further in India and tour the final piece through summer 2018 across both India and the UK.

Visual Arts

Unlimited is supporting not one but two visual arts collaborations – fusing artists from different practices and parts of the world.

Richard Butchins will be developing The Voice of the Unicorn, a multi-disciplinary collaboration that incorporates the silence of non verbal artists from Ateiler Corners – some of whom toured the UK in 2016 –  and butoh-trained dancer Kasuyo Morita revealing to the audience the unknown world of non-verbal behaviour & communication. The Voice of the Unicorn will be a triptych of moving image work and experimental documentary, revealing to the audience the unknown world of the non-verbal. Filmed partly by the artists themselves (using 360, virtual reality, covert and regular techniques), the aim is to curate a unique encounter between each collaborator and the camera, that best reveals the world from the perspective of the artist’s mind. The work will explore alienation, silence, and isolation felt by the disabled person/artist. It will also reflect on the differences between the way disability is treated and experienced in Japan and the UK especially in light of the forthcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The installation will tour from Spring 2018.

Rachel Gadsden will be continuing It Was Paradise – her collaboration with Ali Saied from Palestine, and emerging artists Mahmoud Abu Daghash, Emy Hussein and Hosaam Khdair amongst others. Despite issues with visas, the project has flourished, bringing in many partners from both the West Bank and across the UK, and transforming the lives and perceptions of disabled artists in Palestine. The work is a cross cultural collaboration, which considers the effects upon individual and community of the sense of isolation and abandonment arising from physical and psychological confinement. The artistic collaboration addresses global concerns around migration, the lingering flight of the refugee, disabled and bereaved people and is inspired by the poem Under Siege by Mahmoud Dawish:

Here on the slopes of hills, facing the dusk and the cannon of time
Close to the gardens of broken shadows,
We do what prisoners do,
And what the jobless do:
We cultivate hope.

Theatre

Kaite O’Reilly will be building on the And Suddenly I Disappear… the Singapore ‘D’Monologues with her partners in Singapore, exploring the lived experience of disability in both the UK and Singapore through a series of fictionalised monologues inspired by real-life stories, inspired by her 2012 Unlimited Commission In Water I’m Weightless. With a range of artists involved on both sides of the world – including Peter Sau, Ramesh Meyyappan, Sara Beer, Sophie Stone and Lee Lee Lim – the piece explores a multitude of verbal and visual languages on stage and on screen.

As part of the developing impact of the work, Kaite will also be giving a lecture as part of the British Council ‘Knowledge is Great’ series, supported by both the British Council and Intercultural Theatre Institute (ITI) in partnership with Singapore Art Museum: Nothing About Us Without Us – What Can Singapore Learn from Three Decades of the UK’s Disability Arts and Culture?

Carnival

For the first time since 2012, Unlimited is supporting a carnival project – Viva Carnival. Working with the New Carnival Company, VIVA, a collective of learning disabled carnival practitioners, undertook a weeklong research visit hosted by Embaixadores, a disability carnival organisation based in Rio, Brazil and will now get to complete this project where core elements –  the Flag Bearer and Master of Ceremonies, the Front Commission and Drum Queens – will tour to the Isle of Wight Carnival, Liverpool International Carnival, Newham Carnival, Dublin Carnival, Amsterdam Carnival and more, supported locally by Drum bands. Going further, the aim is for the work to also tour to Viareggio Carnival and the Rio Champion’s Parade in 2019.

A BBC feature on the project can be seen here.

A positive future

In the current political climate it is more important than ever that art is used to bridge the gap between peoples, between nations, between communities, providing a different view of the future, one in which equality and access are seen as vital not only to the cultural sector but to our societies as a whole. We are delighted that Unlimited International is part of actively creating that future.