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Performing Colonial Toxicity

The public programme running in tandem with Performing Colonial Toxicity by Samia Henni offers multiple entry points to further engage with the concerns and research in the exhibition. The programme embraces Henni’s methodologies, engaging in alternative approaches to archival investigations to interrogate colonial histories and untold stories.

Events in the programme invite critical discussions around colonial and nuclear toxicity, stemming from recent academic and artistic work situated in the Global South. The programme opens with a focus on the Sahara, with Samia Henni, leading a walk through the exhibition to discuss the impact of French colonial violence in Algeria and more widely her work in disseminating her research in an exhibition format. In response, Zain Al Saie, curates an online talk with Jill Jarvis foregrounding research on the role of art and literature as a witness to trauma endured by Algerians during and after French colonisation. A panel bringing back Samia Henni, alongside experts such as David Burns and others examines the wider field and entanglement of nuclear toxicity, making comparative connections with similarly impacted people and geographies, including the Sahara. 

A new film programme, Ciné-Sahra, curated by Abiba Coulibaly and Emma Bouraba  contributes to a nuanced understanding of colonial violence in the Sahara and the resistance rooted in this environment. Watch the UK premiere of Memories of an Unborn Sun (2024) by artist Marcel Mrejen, in dialogue with And still, it remains (2021) by Arwa Aburawa and Turab Shah, and Galb’Echaouf (2021) by Abdessamad El Montassir, followed by a conversation with the filmmakers. A partnership with Nottingham Contemporary in their programme accompanying Hamid Zénati’s retrospective exhibition, will present a second screening of And still, it remains, followed by a somatic event with Assia Ghendir. 

Further ecologically rooted, embodied research and readings manifest in the programme through a performative event in three acts with Alaa Abu Asad, and a reflective walk with Tawfik Naas and Emily Sarsam, in collaboration with San Mei Gallery. Alaa Abu Asad will share his research The dog chased its tail to bite it off (2018– ongoing) on invasive species, tracing the history of the Japanese knotweed plant, through colonial history, and social, economic and political effects. Artists Tawfik Naas and Emily Sarsam lead a guided exploration of lens shifting, inspired by Naas’ exhibition ‘Chaos Is A Flower’ in Myatt’s Fields Park offering perspectives to reimagine the past and the future. 

Artist Himali Singh Soin will create a therapeutic garden, proposing mending through growing plants with decontamination abilities, entangled with a several such gardens planted around the world. The programme closes with the premiere of An Affirmation (2022), the final video of Soin’s series Static Range, set around the UK’s decommissioned nuclear plant, Sellafield. An extension of the film’s healing ritual will take place in the garden, led by the artist in collaboration with Viveka Chauhan.


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