Salma Zulfiqar is an artist who has worked on women’s rights, human rights and humanitarian issues around the world – with decades of experience working for the United Nations in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. She´s been Birmingham-based for the last few years and I´ve been admiring the projects she´s been involved with, from the Migration blanket installation, to the ARTconnects workshops she´s been offering all over the country and abroad.
The combination of art, activism and community, all with the aim of informing and empowering people, usually migrant or refugee women who are in vulnerable and precarious situations seems amazing to me, and I´m awestruck by the success with which Salma Zulfiqar has constructed and disseminated both the work and the idea across various formats (books, talks, workshops, installations) and in all parts of the city, from Foyle´s, to Grand Central, the Council House and many universities. You can see what Salma has been doing in her own website: http://www.salmazulfiqar.com/
Salma has also participated in the debate on migration in the House of Lords, contributed to policy discussions on migrants and refugees, and been chosen as one of the inspiring Birmingham ´Women Who Dared to Dream´. She is also currently a finalist for the national Asian Women of Achievement Awards 2019. The Migration Blanket installation will be exhibited at the Venice Biennale at The Palazzo Bembo on the 12th of May with an ARTconnects workshop taking place at The Palazzo Rossini.
The ‘Routes to Peace’ project highlights the dangerous journeys the women made when crossing the Mediterranean Sea to reach safety in Europe. ‘Routes to Peace? is an event in two parts; a conversation exploring research into the stories of people who have to leave their homeland in search of peace and safety, and a workshop that encourages the audience to explore these stories creatively. A workshop arising from this project will also be held in London on May 21st.
The above are the reasons why I wanted to talk to Salma and they form the basis of the conversation in the podcast below:
Tom graduated with a degree in Film and Literature from the University of Warwick in 2007 and since then has contributed to The Guardian, The Observer, The Financial Times, The Telegraph, Wallpaper, CNN, BBC and other important newspapers and magazines. He was also the digital editor of The British Journal of Photography for several years and has recently become Senior Writer for Creative Review.
The conversation ranges from how he got into writing about photography, the experience of going to and writing about Chernobyl, how he pursued the Çağdaş Erdoğan story, and the changing cultural status of photography as well as the current ecosystem of the medium in London. We end with an extended discussion of the great Don McCullin exhibition currently on at Tate Britain, which we both urge everyone to see.
‘The aim of Alternate Takes is to provide analysis of cinema that is informed by academic debates, but also walks a line between the journalistic review and the critical essay. It publishes long-form essays that embody this ethos, but the most obvious way the site has achieved this compromise position between reviewing and scholarly criticism is by writing about new films twice. First there is a short, evaluative piece that ‘spoils’ as little as possible about a film, but still grants a sense of the sorts of experience it offers; the idea is that this is a review to read before you see a film. Then, after you’ve watched it, you can read our Alternate Take – a longer, more in-depth critical piece, which usually digs more deeply into a particular critical issue that the movie raises. While over the years this dual-review format has become less rigidly enforced, the overall approach it fostered has remained the same, and the site has continued to publish film criticism that is in-depth, critical, mindful of social and artistic contexts, but also accessible and enjoyable.’
The impetus for this conversation with Josh Schulze was merely to find out if there was a new direction he, along with co-editors Matt Denny, Patrick Pilkington and Leanne Weston, wanted for the now celebrated digital platform and what that might be.
In the podcast Josh and I discuss Pauline Kael, cinephilia, the pressures of writing quickly and its effects on film reviewing, the nuances of film criticism and how Alternate Takes is devoted at looking at films and television in depth. We also discuss our admiration for the video essays of Adrian Martin, Catherine Grant and Kogonada, and how contributing to Alternate Takes is a great way for early career people and students to explore their ideas and take new approaches to film.