Brent Biennial

Green and yellow poster with the slogon - each one bring one this is how we grow the movementDocumentation from event with audience sat in a circle around filmmaker Lynda Ouazar. Image by Kes.

Flatness brought in many of the concerns and connections from the publication Queer Diasporic Futurity into its curation of the Public Programme for Brent Biennial 2022, ‘In the House of my Love’, themed around homemaking in hostile environments. This has taken the form of screenings and gatherings focused on migrant rights (see details of the day of action below), and discussions on social housing and economic crisis (Homes for Queers: On London Housing) and its effect on local creative practitioners. This is in addition to community listening and archiving events, plant medicine knowledge sharing and communion days specifically open to people of colour and children led by Misery Medicine and a 3-day mini festival of play by AssemblePlay documented by Joseph Walsh (available to watch on the homepage).

Day of Action Against the Hostile Environment, July 2022, Metroland Cultures Hub.

In July this year we held a Day of Action Against the Hostile Environment as part of Brent Biennial 2022: In the House of my Love. The festival brought together artists and community groups whose work explores the many meanings of homemaking within hostile environments.

The day of action included talks, screenings, food, kid activities and workshops with activist groups, writers and artists. Together we reflected on the impact of a decade surviving, creatively resisting, and working to make change under the Hostile Environment policy, which continues legacies of racism since Empire. After the extended physical separations of the last years, we gathered together with key voices and organisations to share and learn from each other. Our aim was to better inform advocates for migrant rights within Brent and beyond, amongst migrants and bystanders alike.

We were graciously joined by LGSMigrants (Lesbians & Gays Support the Migrants) who shared their Homo Office Manifesto and key principles of anti-immigration raid activism; Migrants Organise who spoke about their latest campaigns for migrant rights in Brent and beyond; author Leah Cowan who introduced her book ‘Border Nation‘, an incisive analysis of the colonial roots and current violence and oppression of UK border enforcement; Human Rights activist Lynda Ouazar (who set up a food bank for undocumented people during the first lockdown) who presented the film she made for the Guardian ‘Made in London: Hidden Lives in a Hostile Environment‘; and artist Daniella Valz Gen who led a meme-making workshop.

Our delicious lunch was catered by Sufra NW London and we’re grateful to the Metroland Cultures Young Associates for putting together activity packs for kids of all ages. Thanks too to Sumayya for providing BSL interpretation and to Migrants in Culture for the brilliant posters we gave away, available to download here. Selected documentation below:

LISTEN: Hear from author Leah Cowan here. READ: A transcript of the discussion is available here.

At the start of the Biennial we also screened Sonita Gale’s film ‘Hostile‘ at the Lexi which is also a rich and uncompromising resource, with contributions by George the Poet, MP Zarah Sultana, Professor of Political Violence Brad Evans and Nitin Sawney amongst many others.

Thanks to all the speakers and everyone we got to meet. We now have a new, unbelievably more authoritarian Home Secretary and the fight against the Hostile Environment in all its forms is more important than ever. Find your community to add your voice to. LGSMigrants meet every Monday and SOAS Detainee Support are very active and worth supporting.