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Filmmaking as Resistance 2: Tahera Aziz

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Filmmaking as Resistance seminar series, hosted by Practice as Research in the Arts group at London South Bank University.
Seminar 2 with Tahera Aziz.

Transformative encounters: Harnessing sound and documentary practice outside the field of vision to tackle racism.

The global movement of Black Lives Matter following the killing of George Floyd has highlighted the urgent need to end police brutality and counter racism and structural inequality in society. In the UK, the widespread protests have led to the government announcing a new inquiry – the commission on race and ethnic disparities to examine “all aspects of inequality”. This move has been criticised for letting the government off the hook.

Originating from earlier AHRC-funded practice-led research, this presentation explores how sonic reconstruction in the documentary tradition can be harnessed to engage young people in a dialogue about contemporary racism, discrimination and stereotyping. It focuses on [re]locate, a multi-speaker sound-only installation revisiting the racially motivated murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993, framed by the media and public debates associated with the Stephen Lawrence Public Inquiry (Macpherson Report, 1999), which over 20 years ago concluded that the police force was institutionally racist. This is an important political moment to remember what Stephen Lawrence has taught us, and to consider the potential of the sound installation to act as a catalyst for motivating young people to become active anti-racists, contributing to the goals of the wider movement to rid society of racism.

Tahera Aziz has had a longstanding creative interest in identity, migration and racism. Over years she has produced artwork that explores how wider socio-political issues or events can impact on the individual to shape their experiences, their sense of self and belonging. This has been expressed through photo-based installation work (Exceptional Leave to Remain, 1993 and My Grandmother Doesn’t Speak the Same Language as Me, 1996). More recently, she has examined the potential of sound and documentary practices as a form of remembrance and a stimulus for generating dialogue about racism in contemporary life; [re]locate - a multi-speaker sound-only installation - is the culmination of earlier AHRC-funded practice research revisiting the Stephen Lawrence case and public inquiry (Macpherson Report). Tahera Aziz teaches Digital Design at London South Bank University.

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