- CARIN – Embroidery workshop started in Autumn 2017. Local refugees, immigrants, and long-time residents received guidance from Tromsø based artist Marsil Andelov Al-Mahamid on the use of embroidery art. By sitting next to each other, the participants have the possibility to start conversations with each other and thereby make new friendships and connections. Participants are playing around with their ideas creating art pieces as a means of expression and to promote integration between the groups. Sharing real life stories can be rough especially if they are about war, violence, marginalities and exclusions, social injustice, etc.
CARIN- is one of the case studies and partner with research project Cit-egration. Sustainable diverse cities: Innovation in integration. whose main objective is to produce new applicable knowledge on innovative integration activities that help us to live with difference, enhance integrative interaction and develop just cities. Cit-egration research team is conducting trailing research to study and develop integration of refugees/immigrants within the CARIN. There are many challenges when it comes to building an integrated society in an increasingly multicultural country such as Norway. The aim of the project is that through working on art together, the newcomers with refugee/immigrant background will get to better understand the receiving society and culture, and the native Norwegians will better understand the refugee/immigrant societies and cultures, as well as their experiences in Norway, and this will create a ‘third space’ where meetings can occur and where lasting bonds and friendships might be facilitated. Embroidery workshops started in November 2017. In total, 30 successful workshops took place. CARIN – embroidery workshops gathered around 300 people and created more then 200 finished embroideries on several different locations and cities in Northern Norway.
Video – CARIN – promotional video
- Embroidery Fence – In December 2017, Marsil Andelov Al-Mahamid together with a Swedish artist Simon Deluxe organized an art workshop in a refugee camp near Kikinda, Serbia. Children and youth were building an art installation from a woolen thread and fabric on a metal fence around the camp. The workshop was a success. We made them smile and we had a great fun.
- Beisfjord Remebrance – A friendship between Norway and Serbia has reached new heights with Erasmus youth exchange program which final goal was to build a temporary museum on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Beisfjord tragedy. In 2017, youth from Serbia and Norway (but also from France and Poland) came together in the village of Beisjord, near Narvik from July 1-10 to talk and learn more about war remembrance, refugee crisis, diversity and human rights. In 1942, Beisfjord was the location of one of the worst prison camps on Norwegian soil during the Second World War. During its first four months, it claimed the lives of most of the 900 Yugoslav prisoners who were taken there. Later it became a camp for Soviet prisoners of war. Using the history of the camp as background, the participants got to learn and reflect about the timelessness of consequences of war. By the end of the project, the young people have built their own temporary museum in Beisfjord which was opened to a general public. Among the installations were an art installation about the Beisfjord massacre of July 1942, a timeline of the experiment “What if Twitter existed in 1942?”, creative poster prints, theatre play about refugees, a pop-up exhibition about friendship and other. Tromsø-based artist Marsil Andelov Al-Mahamid, – collaborated with Joakim Arnøy from the Narvik Peace and War Centre and Dragan Kiurski from the National Museum of Kikinda to provide a positive and eventful experience for the young people aged 14 to 20 years of age, with very active participation from the youth groups themselves. In 2018 the camp was organized in Marmande in France. Andelov Al-Mahamid guided the participants to make propaganda posters with focus on local WW2 history.
“Beisjford Remembrance”, 2017, Site-specific installation, documentation, Beisjford, Norway
- PurpleDinner – Connect with Syria, The refugee crisis in Europe was a trigger for a project “Connect with Syria”. The project founders Marsil Andelov Al Mahamid and Gregory Taff organized dinners at the home of Syrian refugees in Tromsø in 2016, through the website Purpledinner.com. The main idea is that local people could meet Syrian refugees through homemade food in a relaxed, intimate environment. More than 20 dinners were organized in Tromsø and in Oslo. Locals and travelers enjoyed food and learning about culture in refugee homes in Tromsø. A country-wide fundraiser “TV action” to support the Red Cross was organized by PurpleDinner at Oslo Haraldsheim Hostel together with Hostel International Norway celebrating the Kurdish New Year “Newroze”: more than 30 people came together enjoying the food and traditional Kurdish dance.
Erasmus + Youth Exchange, Kikinda, Serbia 2016. In 1966 city of Narvik, Norway and Kikinda, Serbia signed a declaration of friendship. It was during the First Balkan War when Serbia and Norway started its long-lasting friendship. When the war broke out in October 1912, a group of Norwegian medical personnel working with the Red Cross deployed voluntarily to Serbia. A special relationship between Norway and Serbia was later forged following the efforts by local Norwegians to help Yugoslav prisoners of war during the Second World War. More than 50 people from Kikinda was sent to German Nazi camps in Norway and only seven of them came back to Kikinda after the war.The Seventy-four years after the Beisfjord tragedy a new idea was born: to organize an international youth camp in Kikinda based on the war remembrance and forgotten friendship. In the summer of 2016, together with Narviksenteret, Kikinda National Museum and artist Marsil Andjelov Al Mahamid organized an Erasmus + Youth Camp in Kikinda. The camp addressed the topics of human rights, social injustice and war memories. In multi-day workshop called “Memories” participants from Norway, France, Poland and Serbia expanded their knowledge and understanding of the importance of human collaboration in difficult times, and they also got to know more about contemporary art. We used innovative storytelling methods such as video, performance and sound in the workshop. Together with camp participants we recreated some of the brutal scenes from the Beisfjord camp like shooting people, using brutality, marking people as numbers with black color, eating dead skin from another person etc.
Photo taken from the video-performance in Kikinda, Serbia, 2016
Music Against War – Gregory Taff has run a regular event “Music Night with Greg” at Sivertsens Café in Tromsø since 2014. These evenings are jam sessions/musical showcase events that are open for anyone who has prepared music to play in public, with immigrants particularly encouraged to participate, both as performers or listeners. The evenings, run 1 or 2 times each month, are a low-pressure, welcoming environment to share music, culture, and make connections with others in a cozy café setting. The goal of these events is to promote friendship and intercultural respect through the arts.
Performers have included Greg (piano/vocals/guitar), and more than 50 others, including singers, rappers, players of guitar, piano, ukulele, saxophone, upright bass, trombone, hand drums, accordion, and traditional Kurdish, Iranian, and Eritrean instruments. Tap dancers have also performed with musicians at these Music Nights with Greg. Performers and audience members at these events generally come from many different countries, and the number of refugees participating has grown over the years, and we hope to continue this trend to help make lasting bonds between refugees and other locals in Tromsø.
Photo taken at Siversten Cafe, Tromsø, Norway, 2016