Journalist and arts rights activist Sidd Joag, photographed by Fredrik Elg
Introduction by Sidd Joag
During the 2016 Malmö Safe Havens meeting, I had the opportunity to meet Michael Schmidt, a veteran journalist from South Africa who was charged with documenting the event. After two full days of performance, screenings, panels, conversation and debate, the idea of a series of articles placing the city of Malmö at the center of the current global matrix of civil unrest, repression, violence, displacement, migration and integration emerged. Malmö in particular is a fascinating yet understated cultural nexus with an air of welcome and acceptance that is rare, and increasingly threatened by wide-sweeping anti-immigrant sentiments across the Global North. This is especially noticeable in countries like Sweden with long histories of hosting displaced people amicably.
In “Should I wait for the darkness to see the stars?” Michael Schmidt, quoting the playwright, brings us into an atmospheric performance of (and by) Monirah Hashemi in her latest play Sitarah – The Stars, a disturbing contemplation on the role of women in Islamic society, the grave injustices they face and the transfer of their extraordinary resilience globally through diaspora communities. Schmidt weaves a series of vignettes that give us a glimpse into the deeply personal motivations of activists on the frontlines and how they actively affect change in their countries of origin.
What is the range of damage that we acknowledge or evaluate when we consider the psychological and socio-cultural toll of violent conflict and displacement? Schmidt presents us first-hand accounts of possibility that fortify our collective resolve to address the disturbing and divisive issues of today with clarity and kindness.
The remainder of the article is here: Arts Everywhere