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Interview

Maeve McKeown is a PhD Political Theory student at UCL.  She took part in the UCL Occupation and all of the major student protests. Her blog http://studenttheory.wordpress.com applies political theory to the student movement and she is also a contributing editor at the New Left Project. Maeve took time out to talk to me about those will be most affected by the rise in tuition fees and her involvement in the UCL Occupation.

What is the reality that students now face in light of the increase of tuition fees?

Young people going to university will face the choice of studying what they want to study for personal or intellectual fulfillment, and the subject that will get them a job that ensures they can pay back their debt.  And the debt will be substantial – £27,000 in fees for a three-year course, plus living costs (say a further £15,000), plus interest!  What eighteen-year-old from a working class background will study English or Classics now?  Read More

The annual Passion for Freedom Art competition took place late last year in which a group of international artists were asked to address the subject of religion and human rights.

The exhibition comes directly from The One Law for All campaign against the Sharia Law in Britain. The Sharia law is an Islamic law based on a combination of sources, including the Quran and the Sunna.

Courtesy of Onelawforall.org

According to a report by One Law for All, in the Sharia law’s penal code, women can be stoned to death for sex outside of marriage, homosexuality is punishable by death and improper veiling is punishable with fines and imprisonment. A woman’s testimony is worth half that of a man’s and while a man can have four wives and can easily divorce, a woman must give justification for requesting a divorce, some of which are extremely difficult to prove. Read More

Artist Tamsyn Challenger took some time out before the launch of her exhibition, 400 Women, to discuss the tragic inspiration behind the project and the plans for its future.

Could you tell us a bit about your background?

I studied art at Winchester School of Art and KIAD. My work has been exhibited in the Truman Brewery and Candid Arts in London and I’ve worked as a collaborative artist with the Magdalena Festival in Barcelona and with Triangle theatre. My first solo show ‘The Tamsynettes‘ was at Transition Gallery in Bethnal Green in March 2010.

What is the project 400 Women about?

400 Women is a project made in response to the brutal rape and murder of countless women and girls in the border region of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. It’s reliant on a mass collaboration of artists painting the portraits of the missing and murdered and for me each artist participating represents the women I have given them to work with.

What was the inspiration behind 400 Women? Read More

Hetain Patel took time out of his busy tour to talk to me about his influences as an artist and the inspiration behind his performance TEN.


For those who are unaware of your work, could you tell us a bit about your background?

Well, I’m a visual artist based in Nottingham. For the past 6 years I’ve been producing photography, video and live works, all shown in art galleries nationally and internationally. All the work takes a personal perspective to British and Indian identities as a starting point and then evolves to ask wider questions about language and identity in general. Also, in most of my work I use my own body as the site for these investigations. TEN is my first piece for theatre.

How did you become interested in photography and art? What made you choose to study Fine Art at university?

I’ve been interested in different forms of art all my life. I’ve always been good at drawing and trained in making photorealistic oil paintings during my A-levels. Then, as I took a natural progression into an Art Foundation course and a Fine Art degree, the scope of what art could be got wider and wider. Photography started as a way to document the more sculptural works I was making at uni then I got seduced by the visual quality of the medium itself.

Who or what would you say your main influences are?

There are so many from different places; Visual artists including Bruce Nauman, Bill Viola, to Ron Mueck, composers include Steve Reich, Nitin Sawhney, choreographers such as Jonathan Burrows, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Akram Khan and aesthetics from slick American music videos. Physically, I’m really taken with martial arts from the personality of Bruce Lee to the movement of Shaolin Monks. Also, much more mainstream elements from comedy like The Office, In-betweeners and older stuff from Eddie Murphy. Honesty in work really appeals to me.

What was the inspiration behind TEN?

It was a few things coming together:

It started as an experiment to make one of my video pieces into a live work. In the video I perform 4 parts myself (aided through video editing), whereas the performance asks what it means to ask somebody else to be you.

Secondly, it became an outlet to experiment with an aspect of my practice which hasn’t had a creative voice yet: writing. I loved writing this piece.

Also, I really wanted to share with an audience all the wonderful things I was getting from learning Indian Classical rhythm through my tabla drumming lessons.

The challenge with this last element, however, is that when I present Indian elements in my work it often puts up an exotic barrier. There are a lot of assumptions made about the authority I might have over these Indian elements or that I have a natural connection to them. One of the main purposes of TEN is to challenge this idea. Read More

I had the opportunity to catch up with singer and trumpet player of the band, Michel, before a gig at the Rich Mix Centre and found out about the origins of the band Asere and how he prefers British people to British food….

How did you first come to form the band Asere?

We formed in 1998 in Havana where we started to making traditional Cuban music. Totó La Momposina actually discovered us in Havana and since then we’ve had the opportunity to travel and work with other singers across the world. We are still so grateful that we get to keep going and discover new ways of playing our traditional music in the 21st century.

What inspired you to choose the name ‘Asere‘ for the band?

Well, the name is a Yoruba word from Nigeria. The original meaning of the word has quite a spiritual definition, meaning pride or immense respect to the Gods. However, over time this name has taken on a new meaning, now meaning ‘friend’ or ‘mate’ It was Totó who suggested the name during the early days when we were rehearsing.

How does playing in the UK compare with playing at home?

We love playing here and in Europe and have had the chance to play at some great gigs. We tend not to play so much in Cuba as there is a bigger market for dance music and music from the United States that we often can’t compete with. Our music tends to only attract a fairly specialist market back home. However, in Europe we have a bigger audience, full of dynamic young people who have more respect for the kind of music we do. Sadly we don’t really have this in our own country Read More