In celebration of Refugee Week 2022, Fire Station Artists’ Studios in partnership with Counterpoints Arts London and alongside artists and curators, hosted a roundtable discussion on Wednesday 22 June in the Project Space about refugeeism, displacement and the boundaries of language, identity, history and memory. The conversation took place in the context of Refugee Week, which in 2022 explored the theme of healing as a form of mutual, civic, and collective care.
The discussion was navigated through the prism of two intergenerational, interdisciplinary practices: the poetry, performance and curated events of Caroline Bergvall, and the hip hop dance, theatre and fashion/design work of Tobi Balogun.
Moderated by Áine O’Brien, Curator of Learning and Research and Co-Founder, Counterpoints Arts, the aim of this roundtable was to open a space between artists, art forms and other cultural actors to speak to the urgent issues of our time.
Of French-Norwegian heritage, based in London, Caroline Bergvall is an award-winning poet, artist and performer. She works across languages, artforms and media. Widely recognised for her contextual performances and writing practices working from contemporary audio-visual modes, multilingual and queer identities and histories. Her performances and installations are shown internationally: Tate Modern (London), John Hansard gallery (Soton), Callicoon (NY), Jewish Museum (Munich), Fondatio Tapiès (Barcelona), Khoj Art Centre (New Delhi), Pompidou Centre (Paris), Listening Academy (Berlin), Dublin LIFF, Audiatur Festival (Oslo).
Her current cycle Sonic Atlas explores languages in/out of context and includes the sunrise performance Ragadawn (European tour 2016-18) and the nocturnal Nattsong (Turner Contemporary Gallery, 2021), with composer Gavin Bryars, and sound-designer Jamie Hamilton. Her online Night & Refuge (2020-ongoing) is a live collaborative writing event across timezones. Books include: Alisoun Sings (2019), the final volume of a trilogy exploring medieval and contemporary languages; and source materials include: Meddle English (2011) and Drift (2014).
Tobi Balugun is a Nigerian born, Dublin based, Multidisciplinary Movement Artist working primarily in Dance and Fashion. A professional member of Dance Ireland, Tobi has performed for and created community-led performances and projects with many artists/companies such as CoisCeim, Cathy Coughlan, Story of the Sei, David Bolger and more. He was the recipient of the Create AIC Scheme Bursary Award 2020: Collaborative Arts and Human Rights. This period of research and critical reflection stemmed from an interest in delivering high quality arts engagement to Black-Irish communities and in expanding points of access for young Black Artists. A recipient of the Agility Award 2021, he carried out a residency in Dance Ireland to begin the research process for ‘Ára’, a theatrical dance piece portraying masculinity through a fusion of Hip-Hop cultural styles, Afrobeats and traditional Nigerian dance.
As a curator, Tobi has partnered with Smashing Times to produce, ‘Eascair – A Black Irish Renaissance’, as well as Dance Ireland for Black Canvas Curations, a month packed with urban classes. Both events highlighted local teachers from diverse backgrounds. Over the last 5 years, Tobi has established himself as a new voice in sustainable Irish clothing, creating bespoke pieces for specific events and commercial video work, as well as made to order designs for his own clothing line – SELF MADE.