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International Arts Festival Announces New Commissions as Part of Digital Festival

Journeys Festival International, a Festival of Sanctuary, (Produced by ArtReach) has announced 4 new commissions and a film programme as part of its 2020 digital festival, taking place online from 28th September – 18th October 2020. The annual festival, which explores the refugee experience through great art, usually takes place in the cities of Leicester, Manchester and Portsmouth but for 2020 has created a digital special which will reach new audiences in the UK and across Europe.

The commissions range from international interdisciplinary projects exploring an intergalactic journey through the UK’s immigration system and also how to engage politically when you don’t have access to sound. The new works will all explore the experiences and cultures of artists who have sought sanctuary in the UK.

For the first time, the festival also features themes for each week and the artistic responses and content responding to each theme. Week one of the festival will be ‘Exploring the World We Live In’ and features, This is Not For Me Now, an exhibition of performative photographs responding to the pandemic by Iman Tajik. Iman is an Iranian artist and photographer based in Glasgow. Tajik’s work is anchored in a strong social interest and demonstrates an effort to make work that is a critical tool connected to international movements for social change.

Credit: If You Want to be Alive Read My Lips (Maral Mamaghanizadeh)

In week two, the festival will explore ‘The Way We See the World’ and hosts a new commission from Maral Mamaghanizadeh, titled, If You Want to be Alive. This incredible documentary explores Maral’s work as an artist and Deaf female refugee, using her bone china ear jewelry. Maral’s incredibly delicate jewelry looks at the different levels of hearing impairments experienced by the hard of hearing community and when pressed to the ear actually replicates those sound restrictions for a fully hearing audience member.

The final week of the festival is themed ‘Hope and Celebration’ and features an exciting sci-fi tale and 3D experience by two Manchester based artists Another Story Collective. Exploring the imaginary planet, Mancunia, DOWN UP SIDE is a science fiction tale of the journey of Bedos Mavambu (aka Kwabo Nkisi) from the Republic Democratic of Congo to the planet Mancunia. The tale is told through spoken word poetry, soundscapes and 3D illustrations. This visually stunning journeys will be available at from 12th to 18th October.

Alongside a full festival programme of interactive activities for families and artists, a series of conversations with  Somali-British activist and writer, Magid Magid, exhibitions and performances audiences are invited to join a series of film broadcasts too. The films cover a range of subject matter form Pirate Radio stations in Paris, a short film about a mystery postal delivery and a collection of performed poetry pieces by artist Inua Ellam.

Credit: Global Kitchen (Matt Cawrey Photography)

The festival also hosts cook-along sessions in Global Kitchen, teaching audience’s new dishes from around the world, podcasts, animations, interactive art installations and live comedy. It’s fair to say that in 2020 Journeys Festival International really does have something for all audiences to enjoy from the comfort of their own digital screens.
Keep your eyes on their website,, for the full programme announcements in August and save the dates 28th September – 18th October to show your support for an array of artists and festival content from across the globe.

Featured image credit: DOWN UP SIDE (Pablo and Bedos)