Creative Witnesses, a filmed event premiering on Thursday 15 October, showcases new and original creative work by musicians and artists, inspired by writers who have been imprisoned, harassed, or even lost their lives because of their commitment to freedom of expression.
The event has been organised by Ege Dündar, coordinator of PEN International’s work with young writers and son of leading Turkish and former prisoner of conscience journalist Can Dündar, to show solidarity with writers at risk and enable their work to reach a wider audience.
Ege Dündar said: “I hope that Creative Witnesses can be a source of strength for creative artists at risk to keep fighting for their right to free expression under difficult conditions. I hope it can establish long-lasting connections between the cases and the artists responding to them and help their campaigns gather support and achieve results. I hope it can inspire other creatives to take similar forms of action and realise the power in their skills and a sense of purpose, rather than cynicism and incapacity to respond to the world as it stands today.”
Creative Witnesses features musicians Adam Beattie and Fiona Beevan’s heartbreaking tribute to the poetry of Abdel Wahab Yousif, a young Sudanese poet who drowned at sea while seeking refuge; Rosie Reed Gold’s video poem for imprisoned Egyptian film-maker Sanaa Seif; Ned Cartwright’s song in honour the resilience of Belarusian protestors; Ekin Bernay’s performance piece for İlhan Çomak, the Kurdish poet who has been jailed for over two decades; and Gabriel Moreno’s song for Grup Yorum, theTurkish band Grup Yorum, whose members have also experienced life in a Turkish prison.
Projected images of the focus cases, all from Europe, the Middle East or North Africa, and empty chairs, symbolising the absence of artists and writers who are unable to live and work freely, are at the heart of the event.
Ege Dündar said: “If you are moved or inspired by Creative Witnesses, we hope you feel empowered to act too. We are calling on people to sign petitions, send letters and share the poetry of these writers and creative artists, to show them that they are not forgotten.”
Notes to editors:
- Photographs of musicians taking part in Creative Witnesses and of the cases they represent, and an extended interview with Ege Dündar are available on request.
- The first Creative Witnesses event takes place at 9am (BST) on Thursday 15 October 2020 on PEN International’s YouTube channel: youtube.com/peninternationalable. This will be followed by two further events later in 2020, focusing on Asian and Latin American writers.
- The trailer for Creative Witnesses can be viewed here.
For further information, please contact Sarah Hagger-Holt, firstname.lastname@example.org
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PEN International promotes literature and freedom of expression and is governed by the PEN Charter and the principles it embodies: unhampered transmission of thought within each nation and between all nations. Founded in London in 1921, PEN International – PEN’s Secretariat – connects an international community of writers. It is a forum where writers meet freely to discuss their work; it is also a voice speaking out for writers silenced in their own countries. Through Centres in over 100 countries, PEN operates on five continents. PEN International is a non-political organisation which holds Special Consultative Status at the UN and Associate Status at UNESCO. PEN International is a registered charity in England and Wales with registration number 1117088