Ai Weiwei’s Human Flow leaves viewers in no doubt

By Lucy Ogilvie-Grant, Parent

Human-Flow-PS-cropThe Geography department hosted a screening of Human Flow in the SLT on Tuesday evening – a wonderful opportunity to see a quite extraordinary film made by Chinese conceptual artist and political activist Ai Weiwei.

Ai Weiwei has personal experience of the agonies of refugee-hood and isolation, having endured exile along with his family. He described how it feels “when life itself is a dimming light on the verge of being completely extinguished” and this surely is the engine that drives his understanding and evident compassion for the individuals who become refugees.

The terrifying experiences and arduous journeys that refugees endure, as shown in Human Flow, leave people despondent and exhausted – rarely do arrivals find a generous or compassionate welcome.

It’s clear to see that razor wire and dog patrols, high fences and forcible removal show that, on a  humanitarian level, the developed world is failing. Ai Weiwei proposes an enormous change of attitude in which we could see people’s struggles for basic necessities prioritised over financial gain. Imagining a life lived in a refugee camp, suspended between a violent past and an unimaginable future, it’s easy to understand how young people could be vulnerable to radicalisation.

There are some breathtakingly beautiful visual images in Human Flow – Ai Weiwei makes it impossible to look away from the burning oil fields, dust-storms and wind-torn tents.  Even his pictures of desperate crowds wrapped in foil heat blankets are works of art, something that leaves one with a distinct sense of unease. There are extraordinary drone shots and some tender and moving still-life portrait ‘studio’ shots. The whole montage, although long, could leave no viewer in doubt that there’s a different and less short-sighted way to approach this immense human migration.

 

 

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Refugee turned author enthrals at Bedales

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By Tess Voyle-Partington, Block 5

On Monday, Gulwali Passarlay, a former Afghan refugee who went through an extremely difficult journey to be where he is today, spoke in the theatre about his life and how he has achieved all he has, despite the barriers he faced along the way.

Gulwali began his journey as a young child in Afghanistan during the era of the Taliban. Because of the issues the Taliban presented, the country was very dangerous. In his book, The Lightless Sky, and during his talk, Gulwali explains that his mother was terrified of what would happen every time her children stepped out of the door. Even just walking to get some groceries caused worry.

To start the evening, a group of students were invited to dinner with Gulwali at Keith’s house and we were all lucky enough to have individual time with him and have a conversation before he delivered the annual Global Awareness Lecture later in the evening. During my talk with Gulwali he told me how passionate he was about the issues we are having in the UK at the moment; Brexit, young people having the vote and lots more issues he wants to raise awareness about.

After dinner, we accompanied Gulwali to the theatre,where a large number of students from the school, parents and visitors from outside of the school also attended. He began by talking about his book and going through his journey across Europe in great detail. Overall, the evening was extremely interesting and educational, notably giving many people a more in-depth insight into how refugees are treated and how we act around the controversial debate of refugees and their rights.

View Gulwali’s talk below.

The Global Awareness team’s plea for help…

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Approximately 3 million Syrians have been forced out of their country with a further 6.5 million having to leave their homes for alternative protection. The phrase ‘no one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than land‘ reflects the situation of the thousands of people stranded in Calais as you are reading now. We feel it is our responsibility as a comfortable community to give what aid we can, in any manner possible.The Global Awareness committee, formed of students from every year, have developed two immediate opportunities for assistance and we would very much appreciate your help. In the next half term there will be a period in which we will collect any material donations for the Syrian refugees that will then be delivered to both Syria and Calais through student-organised initiatives.

After half term our aim is create a collection of decorated shoeboxes full of a certain items which we will give to an organisation called Samaritan’s Purse who are running a campaign entitled ‘Operation Christmas Child’. Samaritan’s Purse is a religious organisation and we can guarantee that it gives ‘aid and assistance without regard to the race, creed, gender, religion or ethnicity of the beneficiaries.’ We feel that this is important to highlight. This is a link to possible items that could be featured in the boxes:

https://www.samaritans-purse.org.uk/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child/how-to-pack-a-shoebox/#gift_suggest

This includes things such as school supplies, hygiene items and toys. We would also like to ask for items of a certain level of quality. If possible please pack them over half term and bring them into school before the 15th of November. The more boxes we can get the better and if you’d like any more information please visit the website.

Additionally, a further chance to help the refugees will arise. An organisation, called Aid Convoy, have been gathering items and shipping them out directly to Syria. They are interested in clothes, tinned food, blankets, kitchen equipment, as well as other things that are on a list here. The weather will be turning soon, and spending December and January in a tent will be horrendous, so it is crucial that we do as much as we can as quickly as we can. Aid Convoy is an international humanitarian conglomerate, that is ‘committed to assisting victims of disasters and wars’. All of the supplies will be gathered into a 40 foot long container, with one having been dispatched recently (3 Oct.) As a large group of young people it is essential that we are living in awareness of the world around us, engaging, and trying to do what we can to improve it. If we remain dormant whilst those around us scream, as a generation that will soon be steering society’s moral perspective, we will be failing in doing what’s right.

http://www.aid-convoy.org.uk/items-for-container/

By Godelieve de Bree, 6.1 and the Global Awareness team