We Refuse to be Scapegoats
We Refuse to be Scapegoats is the first UK solo exhibition in the last ten years by the established British artist of mixed Eastern European Jewish heritage Pam Skelton. The exhibition features new moving image works by Skelton with a soundscape by Wayne Brown. It represents the artist’s findings from a long-term research deriving from her own family history, and in particular, the histories, memories and impact of the Jewish Shoah (Holocaust) and the Palestinian Nakba (meaning ‘catastrophe’ or ‘disaster’) on ensuing generations in diverse geopolitical contexts.
Accompanied by a pre-exhibition discussion group (scroll below) and a forthcoming publication of new writing by Caterina Albano, Iliyana Nedkova and Pam Skelton.
Curated by Iliyana Nedkova with contributions from Dominik Czechowski, Tony Fletcher, Heather Kiernan, Jonathan Samuel, John Talbot, Mare Tralla, and Yahya Zaloom specifically for P21 Gallery, London.
The exhibition was initially scheduled to open on 14 January 2021 at P21 Gallery but due to the British Government announcement from 15 December 2020 of the new COVID-19 public health restrictions, including temporary closures of all public galleries and museums in London, We Refuse to be Scapegoats has been rescheduled and will open at P21 Gallery as soon as it is safe to in Spring 2021.
During a demonstration in London in 2019, I heard the Palestinian youth activist Ahed Tamimi defiantly proclaim that she refused to be a victim, that she had reached the point of no longer being scared to speak out. Fear is the weapon that silences us. The fact is that we still live in an era of camps, detention centres and ghettos echoing what Louis McNeice declared in his 1944 anti-war poem Prayer Before Birth ‘tall walls wall us’. These are only some of the powerful words and voices of activists and artists alike I have included in my new moving image works to be featured in We Refuse to be Scapegoats. Pam Skelton
We Refuse to be Scapegoats encapsulates Skelton’s conviction that the struggle for equality must still haunt us lest we forget to remember the misuse of power and the cost in human lives and sufferings. In Israel and occupied Palestine territories, as well as in the numerous other zones of conflict where human rights abuse takes place, the past is no longer the past since it functions within the perpetual flow of multiple current crises. Iliyana Nedkova
ACCESS ALL FREE RESOURCES IN OUR PRE-EXHIBITION DISCUSSION GROUP HERE
SCROLL DOWN TO FIND OUT WHAT WE HAVE BEEN DISCUSSING
- The first on our list of recommendations is a recording of the Jewish Network for Palestine webinar held on 3 December 2020 featuring Prof. Shlomo Sand who speaks about his books on the topic of Jewish identity and his most recent book The Imagined Race: From Judeophobia to Zionism (Hebrew, 2020) with Prof. Haim Bresheeth-Zabner WATCH HERE
- Our next recommendation is a book chapter When Yaffa Met ( J)Yaffa by Honaida Ghanim on the intersections between the Holocaust and the Nakba through a deep reading of Rashid Hussein’s poem Love and the Ghetto (1963) DOWNLOAD HERE
- Next is an homage to the war journalist Robert Fisk presented by London’s Sands Films Studio in December 2020. It includes an exclusive screening of the film This is Not a Movie. Robert Fisk and Politics of Truth (dir. Yung Chang, 2020) documenting his life work and vision through a thoughtful interview and skilfully edited archive material including from Sabra and Shatila, Syria and Bosnia. WATCH HERE
- We joined the virtual reading group which explores Hannah Arendt’s publication Between Past and Future (1968) in the context of Richard Saltoun Gallery’s On Hannah Arendt 12-month exhibition programme. It is in collaboration with the Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities at Bard College, Canada. The first reading was held on 13 January 2021 and focussed on the Preface. The Gap Between Past & Future with an introduction by Lyndsey Stonebridge, Professor of Humanities and Human Rights at the University of Birmingham and author of Placeless People: Writing, Rights, and Refugees (Oxford University Press). Our recommendation is an article by Lyndsey Stonebridge which concludes with Arendt’s message: Think for yourself. Expect and prepare for the worst, but think and act for something better. The impossible is always possible. READ MORE
- We caught up with the webinar hosted by Peter Larson of Ottawa Forum on Israel-Palestine on 19 January 2021. It features Mondoweiss founder and contributor Phil Weiss in conversation with Israeli-Canadian journalist Lia Tarachansky about Israel and Palestine in the post-Trump era and what to expect from the new Biden administration. WATCH HERE
- To mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day on 27 January 2021, we released for the first time here one of Pam’s own voxpop interviews held on the site of the former Wаrsaw Ghetto in 1996. We are also discussing Conflicting Memories: Polish and Jewish Perceptions of the Shoah by Konstanty Gebert where he explores some of the reasons why Poles and Jews have such different perceptions of the events of the Second World War in Poland, pp 28-39 as published in Holocaust Education in a Global Context (UNESCO, 2014) DOWNLOAD HERE
- Pam and Iliyana interviewed Rosa Sacharin, aged 91 at her home in Glasgow on International Holocaust Memorial Day, 27 January 2016. This interview is now part of Pam’s new moving image works. Author of the autobiographical book The Unwanted Jew (2014), Rosa was the last child to board the first Kindertransport from Berlin to the UK on 1 December 1938. In our minds, Rosa’s steady and calm voice would loom as an emotional monument of remembering and sharing: ‘Suffering is suffering. It doesn’t matter which colour, creed or religion you are. In honour of Rosa Sacharin (1925-2019), we are watching Courage (2011) – a short documentary featuring Rosa and commemorating the 60th anniversary of the United Nations Refugee Convention. WATCH HERE Below: Rosa Sacharin, aged 13 on arrival in Edinburgh in 1938, is in the front row on the far right
- Next we are discussing Prayer Before Birth – a poem written by the Irish poet Louis MacNeice (1907–1963) at the height of the Second World War yet it is still recited at demonstrations by peace activists and human rights supporters and posted on social media. Pam discovered the poem in 2008 while undertaking an artist’s research into the archives of the Society for Co-operation in Russian and Soviet Studies (SCRSS) in London. ‘During one of my research visits, I came across an old vinyl record titled Some Recent English Poems. It was produced in 1946 by the SCRSS as a gift from British poets to their Soviet counterparts featuring author’s readings by John Lehmann, Edith Sitwell, Louis MacNeice and many others. As part of my residency at the SCRSS archives, I arranged for the digitisation of the record. This rare recording of Louis MacNeice’s voice is now part of my new moving image works in my exhibition We Refuse to be Scapegoats’ Pam Skelton WATCH HERE
- Our discussion next focusses on the term Nakba (‘Catastrophe’ in Arabic) which was almost completely absent from public discourse in Hebrew in Israel until the early 2000s. Its current prominence was largely due to Zochrot (‘Remembering’ in Hebrew) – the first Israeli non-profit organization devoted to the commemoration of the Nakba of 1948. Zochrot’s resources about the flight and expulsion of the Palestinians have informed Pam’s moving image works to be featured in We Refuse to be Scapegoatsexhibition at P21 Gallery. Here we acknowledge Zochrot’s founder – the writer and activist Eitan Bronstein Aparicio – who was one of the speakers in Present Absentees – a panel discussion event for Refugee Week held on 1 July 2020 as part of the solo exhibition Cry, the Beloved Country by Gil Mualem Doron at P21 Gallery WATCH HERE
Zochrot’s logotype, the keyhole, symbolizes the counterpart of the well-guarded door-key of the expelled Palestinians. Image: Title deed and front-door key of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. Courtesy of Flüchtlingskinder im Libanon e.V.
ACCESS ALL OTHER FREE RESOURCES IN OUR PRE-EXHIBITION DISCUSSION GROUP HERE
b. 1949, Harrogate, Yorkshire. Since 1992 lives and works in London
Artist, educator and researcher. Reader in Fine Art at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London. Exhibitions include Dangerous Places: Ponar, 1995; The X Mark of Dora Newman, 1994-2000; Liquidators (of Chernobyl), 1996-2000; Burning Poems, 2005-2007; Conspiracy Dwellings, 2007-2010, Archive of Exile, 2011, and Cartographies of Life and Death, 2013. Critical writing and art works have most recently been published in Feminist Art Activisms and Artivisms (Valiz 2020); Fotograf # 30 Eye in the Sky (Prague 2017) and N. Paradoxa International Feminist Art Journal (Lessons from History Volume 34, 2014). Skelton has also co-edited two books – Conspiracy Dwellings: Surveillance in Contemporary Art (Cambridge Scholars Publishing 2010) and Private Views: Spaces and Gender in Contemporary art from Britain and Estonia (WAL/IB Tauris 2000).
b. 1968, Sofia, Bulgaria. Since 1996 lives and works in Liverpool and Edinburgh
Independent curator, translator and producer exploring the relationships between public art, activism and creative practices. Current research interests include peacebuilding and the arts, environmental humanities, artists’ moving image culture, women artists, literature in translation and artists’ residencies. Most recent curatorial projects include CONJUNCTION, Peace Cranes, Windows and Screens, Balkan Rhapsody, 3G: 3 Generations of Women Artists Perform, Channelling, Screen.dance and Transient Spaces. Contributor to independent periodicals Edgework, MAP, n.paradoxa, Read More, a-n and Ubiquity. Holds a MPhil in Curating Contemporary Art from Liverpool John Moores University and a MA in English and American Studies, as well as in History and Theory of Culture from the University of Sofia.