It’s Festival Time!
The August long weekend saw Britain’s largest Christian arts, faith and justice festival, and this year Amal had its very own tent. In all our work, we’re driven by values of conviviality, compassion and social justice and we’re delighted to have partnered with a festival that shares these values with us.
Amal @ Greenbelt was a new venue showcasing Muslim artistry, ideas, conversation and spirituality, curated by Chicago-based cultural producer Asad Ali Jafri.
We caught up with Asad before the festival to find out more:
Asad – you’re the curator of the Amal @ Greenbelt Tent… Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a Cultural Producer based in Chicago, but have been working across the globe for the last 7 years. I have a keen interest in producing and presenting Muslim arts and culture that is dynamic and represents the world we live in today.
Does identity play a role in your creative craft, and if so, how?
Identity as a concept definitely plays a role in my creative craft, and it’s important that artists have agency over how they intersect with their multiple identities and are not simply tokenized by one facet of their being. Working in the Muslim space can be tricky, and I try to be conscious about how my own perspective on Muslim identities and culture influence an entire programme. I want to reflect the intentions of a programme or festival, the community it comes from and those it serves. However, there will inevitably be a bit of me that always trickles into it as well.
What’s art got to do with it?
Everything! Art is such an amazing vehicle to share our stories, create change, inspire entire communities, and spark the deepest of emotions. I even love art that can make people uncomfortable, and through art, I find that individuals can be free in the expressions of themselves and the human experience. It’s rare to find that through other mediums and so art is also powerful in and of itself.
With Amal @ Greenbelt, the music, dance, poetry, theatre and comedy become shared experiences that allow whoever is present to experience the diversity, nuances and intricacies of the various elements that make up what we are calling Muslim Art and Culture. Art also stops us being reductive in our notions of identity, especially towards inherently diverse groups. Personally, I believe these forms are a better way to get to know people for who they are rather than relying on academic texts or popular media.
See the Amal @ Greenbelt video here.