Exhibition Dates: 6 April - 1 May 2021
Curator: Mishelle Brito
Artists: Layla Madanat & Eleanor Nawal
‘my answer to this question can be best illustrated with another story…’
The Orient. The Middle East. The Arab World.
First-Generation. Third Culture. Immigrant.
Terrorists. Refugees. Veiled women and men with long beards.
What does “Arab” bring to mind?
The regions of South-West Asia and North Africa have birthed a new generation of youth living across the globe. Whatever the term, and wherever we are, we find ourselves questioning our identities as South West Asia / North Africa (SWANA) descendants.
Using interviews, crowdsourced footage and original music, ‘mosaic’ is a short film co-directed by Layla Madanat and Eleanor Nawal, with original sound by Sofie K. and visual design by Jeremy Rieder. ‘mosaic’ explores the young people of the SWANA+ diaspora's relationship to identity and home, bringing together fragments of lives to tell a new story.
In a time when our stories continue to be told for us and at us, ‘mosaic’ is both a decolonising of old narratives, and an exploration of new ones, giving young people in the SWANA+ diaspora the power to shape their narrative. Hear how SWANA+ diasporic youth from across the world experience life from gender and sexuality to food and language, as clips of their own audio and visuals serve, like a mosaic, as elements painting a bigger picture.
Through verbatim audio combined with footage shot by interviewees themselves, contrasted with archival footage shot by colonisers across the twentieth-century, we allow SWANA+ youth to tell their stories through their own voices. What results is ‘mosaic’, sometimes unexpected, sometimes obvious, but never simple.
‘mosaic’ - فسيفساء is fully subtitled in both English and Arabic.
About the Artists
Layla Madanat - Co-Director
Layla is an Arab-British interdisciplinary artist and social justice activist from London. Whatever form the work takes, she is driven by asking radical questions about ourselves and about the societies, and structures, we live in. Much of her work experiments with combining artforms to create bold new narratives, aiming to shift the culture of storytelling in the UK.
Layla has directed and dramaturged work of a range of genres, including digital work such as Tamasha Theatre’s “Made at Home” scratch night. Previously, Layla directed Esohe Uwadiae’s debut “She is a Place Called Home” for the 2020 VAULT festival, which was shortlisted for 3 awards and longlisted for the prestigious Alfred Fagon Award for Black British playwrights. Other works include Maya Pillay’s sell-out 2019 debut “Colour is Too Sweet”, Olly Kendall’s “A New Dawn”, and the 2018 UK Fringe Tour of Ed Lees’ “Into the Deep”.
She is currently part of Paines Plough’s “Re:Assemble” dramaturgy cohort, The Orange Tree Theatre’s Young Company, Shubbak Festival’s Young Associates, and recently graduated Sour Lemons’ “Making Lemonade” programme for emerging cultural leaders. As a director, Layla was recently shortlisted for the Evening Standard and TikTok “Future Theatre Fund”.
Eleanor Nawal - Co-Director
Eleanor Nawal is a British-Egyptian actor and writer from London. As an actor she has
worked for Sky, Nickelodeon, Shondaland, Netflix, BBC, TNT and NBC Universal. As a writer, her work explores questions of identity and belonging as sources of trauma and humour. She is currently shortlisted for Sister/ South of the River’s Screenshot Award for emerging comedy writer/performers and was previously shortlisted for the Pleasance Young Playwrights’ Award. She is a frequent collaborator of Layla Madanat, which began with Eleanor’s self written solo show ‘Half/نص’, about internal conflicts and biases surrounding her Coptic Egyptian identity and colonialism, which was performed at the Tristan Bates and Old Red Lion theatres.
She has had a lifelong fascination and obsession with screen work, as an actor and as a maker and is excited about the possibilities and power of using film to explore further the nuances and idiosyncrasies of the SWANA+ diaspora.
reACT is an innovative program, established by P21 Gallery to promote and support emerging and student artists whose work is dedicated to or inspired by the Middle East & Arab world by providing a space within the P21 Gallery and/or P21 Gallery website for an artistic intervention. reACT aims to contribute in building and strengthening cultural ties and dialogues between the East and West on terms designed by a younger generation.
Mishelle Brito is a London based artistic programmer and curator working to create dialogues relating to societal concerns in the Middle East through art, culture and creative based methods.
P21 is an independent London-based charitable trust established to promote contemporary Middle Eastern and Arab art and culture.
For further information, press images and interview opportunities, please contact reACT Programme Manager & Curator, Mishelle Brito at: reACT@p21.org.uk
The exhibition is supported by the Art Council England and HUB Collective.