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The Centre Cannot Hold project:
Part 1
- "BUY THIS" (2009)






'The Centre Cannot Hold'

Climate Change, Imperialism and Migration     an ongoing exploration


current project 'Climate Change, Migration, Science & Asylum' in Manchester

to be presented as a public event "Climate Justice, Science and Refugees" on Weds 27th October 2010 as a part of Manchester Science Festival


previously began with 'Part 1 - BUY THIS' at The Arnolfini, Bristol (UK)

showing as part of the "C Words" exhibition, 3rd October - 29th November 2009


please visit the project's blog

The Centre Cannot Hold aims to critically explore Climate Imperialism and it intends to be an ongoing project.  Specifically, The Centre Cannot Hold discusses the ways in which Climate Change is a continuation of imperialist processes that have been active for a few hundred years.  Destruction of human beings along with their environment on a large scale is nothing new, and climate change is perhaps the most sanitised way in which ‘third’ economies will be decimated by the omnipresent culture of greed led by the first economies.

The project is led by artist and cultural producer Kooj Chuhan, along with Aidan Jolly (musician and sound artist), Jaya Graves (researcher and worker for Southern Voices), and Tracey Zengeni (associate artist).  The title “The Centre Cannot Hold” is a line taken from the poem “The Second Coming” by W. B. Yeats, a vociferously rich and dark critique of the modern world.  This same poem also inspired Chinua Achebe who used the preceding line “Things Fall Apart” as the title of his most acclaimed and landmark novel discussing colonialism in Nigeria.

Kooj (Kuljit) Chuhan has written a keynote discussion paper outlining the starting points for this investigative project, titled Tolerating Mass Murder, as originally presented/published at ISEA 2009 (Belfast, Northern Ireland).  This is available to read  HERE

There is also a blog on which various activities and discussions can be posted:
Participate in the discussion, contribute your own dialogues, follow events and investigations on this blog.

The second phase of this project in 2010 includes the sub-project "Refugee Testimonies on Climate Change" taking place in Manchester, in partnership initially with the Manchester Refugee Support Network (MRSN) and with the Research Institute for Cosmopolitan Cultures (RICC) at Manchester University. This intends to be the basis for a longer-term and growing association which will develop a range of relevant explorations.

The first part of this project took place in Bristol (UK) focusing on a cultural-artistic process and installation which was presented at The Arnolfini gallery in October-November 2009.  This exhibition, entitled "C-Words", was curated by Jane Trowell from Platform (London) who invited us to be part of a group of activists and artists using the space for non-static dialogues / debates / interventions / exhibitions over two months on the theme of Climate Justice. 

Virtual Migrants want to look at the decimation and depletion of third world resources over a longer time frame and which have preceded the effects on global climate which affects everyone including the west and has then become a global concern.  Our starting points include local diaspora links with the less stable world that will suffer the most, and examining climate change as an imperialist process (not just an imperialist by-product).

According to Kooj Chuhan from Virtual Migrants, "There are some incredible and devastating predictions for the future levels of displaced people due to climate change.  A recent issue of Forced Migration Review (#31) began to map out these issues in a useful way yet when you look at the range of articles you are left with a sense that this field is struggling to gain a proper framework; a question for a group like ours is on the role for UK artists with an initial UK audience in response to this, and its relationship to other political positions regarding refugee and migrant issues.  Issues of resource depletion are directly affecting many originating lands of diaspora communities but the immediate pre-occupations of anti-racist and migrant groups seem to have left them forever on a back-burner.  The potential urgency such communities could bring to the debate could be enormous.  This project challenges us as politically engaged artists to disentangle, reposition and debate these pressing realities in a public forum."

Earlier in 2009, Virtual Migrants began artistically exploring issues connecting refugees with 'climate imperialism' for their fourth Passenger performance, "Register".



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digital media artists and productions responding to themes of race, migration and globalisation

contact: info[a]