Photos from the “Banned Expression in Tibet” Event at Kings Place and Thanks Yous!

I’m happy to report that the “Banned Expression in Tibet” event at Kings Place on 20 June 2015 went very well! Thank you to everyone who came along and made it a memorable night!

We had such a great team of performers and crew so that on the actual day, it wasn’t stressful at all but really fun and everyone played their part beautifully.

I just wanted to post some of the amazing photos of the event which were taken by our good friend Luke Ward at Kings Place. If anyone re-posts the photos from here, please be sure to credit him as the photographer and mention that the photos were taken at Kings Place, thanks.

Programme Sheet-page-001

The Programme Sheet for the night

 

For everyone who came and enjoyed the visuals we used as background on the night, here they are below. Many thanks to our talented graphic designer who offered her services and did all the artwork for Banned Expression, often to tight deadlines!

 

I’m also glad that Tibetan media picked up on the event, here are two radio reports online:

Voice of Tibet: http://www.vot.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/tib_23_06_2015.mp3 (From minute 19:26)

Voice of America report: http://www.voatibetanenglish.com/audio/2815048.html (From minute 33:20)

Finally I’d like to thank everyone who gave their time and effort to making “Banned Expression” a success. It’s going to be a long blog post but I wanted to take the time here to thank everyone who contributed and also make their contribution known!

My website High Peaks Pure Earth has enjoyed an extremely fruitful partnership on Banned Expression with Voice of Tibet and Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy and their support has been unwavering these past three years.

Thank you to FreeMuse for supporting Tibetan musicians and for sending a wonderful message of solidarity to us. Several Tibet-related groups helped with spreading the word, so thank you to Students for a Free Tibet and Tibet Society. A special mention must go to Tibet Society and Tibet Relief Fund for bringing their whole crew to the event and especially to Philippa and Riki for supporting the work of High Peaks Pure Earth.

Thank you to co-host and co-organiser Kunsang Kelden, a natural on the stage and a prolific blogger at Lhakar Diaries: http://lhakardiaries.com/author/kunsangkelden/

Thank you to our performers! Thank you Ngawang Lodup! Ngawang is an emerging artist on the world music scene here in UK, don’t miss his session for BBC Radio 3: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02tykp5 and catch him at the end of July at WOMAD for a full 45 minute solo set: http://womad.co.uk/lineup/ngawang-lodup

Ugyen Choephell thrilled us all with his rock and roll heart and passionate words. Ugyen is always there to lend his support for Tibet, no matter how big or small the event, thank you for coming all the way from Bristol for us! Visit Ugyen’s website here: http://www.tibetalivingtradition.co.uk/about.htm

Thank you to Palden, someone who is somehow able just to turn up on the day and effortlessly pull off two songs amazingly!

Thank you to Sonam who conquered her nerves and reached new heights! Thank you to Bhuchung D. Sonam for letting us premiere his translation of “Today, I wish to offer three prostrations towards Lhasa” by Tashi Rabten at the event. Sonam read it well and the full power of his words could be felt in the room.

And thank you to Youdon Aukatsang who managed to fit Banned Expression into her already packed programme and effortlessly graced the stage like a true pro! A thank you must also go to A.E Clark at Ragged Banner whose translations of Woeser la’s work are so beautiful, the two poems that Youdon la read, A Vow and Scream are both to be found in Tibet’s True Heart, a highly recommended book.

And where would we be without our amazing crew members? Eli, thank you not only for your genius make-up and beauty skills but also for your support over the years for everything that we do. Eli was with us on Banned Expression from the start and looks after us all! From the Green Room to the Dressing Room to the way home, Eli had it all covered so that we were hydrated and had plenty to snack on, she thought of everything, even bringing flowers and scented candles to calm our nerves.

Shu-Ting, thank you for your AV assistance and sorry you got stuck in the booth all night! Thank you JD & ND for lending a hand whenever we needed it and thank you to Luke Ward for his photos.

Several businesses in London promoted Banned Expression by giving out our leaflets and having our posters up, including the Tibetan owned businesses Vintage Basement just off Brick Lane and in Camden and Kailash Momo Restaurant in the Tibetan hub of Woolwich. The lovely Nepalese couple at Rising Green Coffee Shop were similarly helpful, anyone in the Old Street area should check out their delicious momos every Wednesday!

The Kings Place crew were a God-send and made us look professional, thank you Andrew, Delfina, Michael, Alex, Matt and all the Front of House staff.

As this post shows, it takes a lot of people, planning, patience and support to put on a 90 minute show! I hope that events like this will continue to be supported so that the incredible creative resistance taking place in Tibet today can be honoured and given a fitting space.

“Banned Expression in Tibet” Comes to London on 20 June 2015!

Banned Expression plasma screen display

At the end of 2013, the “Banned Expression” campaign officially kicked off with a huge rock concert in Dharamsala, India, by Parikrama, one of India’s most respected rock bands. The campaign Banned Expression aims to highlight the fast shrinking space for writers and artists in Tibet to freely and fearlessly express their views and it is being jointly run by Voice of Tibet, Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy and my website High Peaks Pure Earth.

The Banned Expression story actually goes back a bit further than that though, when a small group of us took part in a conference that was one of the most inspiring I’ve ever attended. It was held in October 2012 in Oslo’s Opera House and it was called “ALL THAT IS BANNED IS DESIRED – World Conference on Artistic Freedom of Expression”, it was organised by Fritt Ord Foundation and Freemuse. The conference promised a lot:

Artists from all genres: music, literature, film, performance, theatre, painting, photography, etc., will perform, examine and discuss where, how and to what extent constraints are placed on artistic freedom of expression, not to mention examples of the potential of art to challenge established truths and framework conditions.

Tibet was represented by visual artist, USA based Tenzing Rigdol and France based musician Tenzin Gonpo in a session moderated by British journalist Frances Harrison. Their session can be seen on YouTube and is highly recommended viewing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1_0Su_0Eio

The conference was thought-provoking and led all of us to think about the many silenced creative voices in Tibet, especially after 2008 and what we could do to highlight their words and music. We all went away and did our bit, on High Peaks Pure Earth we started to translate, subtitle and post all kinds of music videos from Tibet and to date have over 50 music videos on the website. In a personal capacity, I started to focus more on Tibetan musical expression and published articles on Global Voices about music censorship and creative Tibetan musical initiatives.

For what became the “Banned Expression” campaign, Voice of Tibet and TCHRD did a formidable amount of work, putting together not only the rock concert but publishing a report Banned Expression: Stifling Creativity and Dissent in Tibet and producing a documentary film that premiered in Oslo at the Human Rights Human Wrongs Film Festival in February 2014. You can read all about the events that took place that week in Oslo in a previous blogpost of mine.

So… all that brings me to London and Banned Expression as I’m finally putting on an event here on 20 June 2015 at the stunning venue Kings Place. It’s going to be a great night as our team have managed to put together a varied programme that will include live music, spoken word and short talks. The evening will also showcase the best in UK-based Tibetan talent such as Bristol-based Ugyen Choephell who is an artist, musician and poet.

Myself and Kunsang Kelden, co-founder of one of the best exile youth blogs Lhakar Diaries, will be the hosts for the evening and we’ll introduce performers and guests who will perform songs from Tibet and read poetry, both in Tibetan and in translation. Among the stifled Tibetan voices that we will highlight are those of prominent Tibetan writer and poet Woeser, imprisoned singer Lolo, writer and poet Tashi Rabten and Shokjang, writer and currently detained.

Tickets for Banned Expression are available from the Kings Place website here for £9.50: http://www.kingsplace.co.uk/whats-on-book-tickets/spoken-word/renaissance-series-banned-expression-in-tibet 

Social media links:

Banned Expression Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/freespeechtibet

Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1436153880019797/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BannedXpression

#BannedExpression

I do hope that many of you will join us next weekend in London. Any proceeds from the night will go to the performers to support their creative work for Tibet.

Finally, I’m going to end with a powerful message of support for Banned Expression from FreeMuse and I’d like to thank everyone at FreeMuse for their solidarity with Tibetan artists. See you on 20 June at Kings Place!

freemuse-quote

New Article on Lhakar Published and Upcoming Oslo Events

2014 01 30 Lhakar TiD article photo

It’s always satisfying to see an article in print and yesterday, on Lhakar, two copies of the latest issue of Brennpunkt Tibet arrived in my snailmail postbox! Thank you to Tibet Initiative Deutschland for commissioning and publishing the article, Brennpunkt magazine is available to order from their website here.

2014 01 30 HRHW poster

Next up I’m really excited to be a Festival Guest at “Human Rights Human Wrongs” next week in Oslo. The Festival itself looks amazing, from February 4-9 there are going to be a whole bunch of film screenings, related events, seminars and concerts.

I’m really happy to support the “Banned Expressions from Tibet” campaign and looking forward to seeing the documentary at its premiere in Oslo on February 6 at Kino Victoria. I’ll be talking about the situation in Tibet for singers, musicians and artists and reading some poetry too. On the evening of February 7, we’ll be at a special “Banned Expressions” concert featuring Tibetan musician Loten Namling.

Anyway there are loads of cool things going on for those few days so check out the Human Rights Human Wrongs website. A huge thank you to Voice of Tibet for supporting freedom of expression in Tibet and I’ll leave you with a video message I prepared for the “Banned Expressions” concert held in Dharamsala on December 10, 2013, jointly organised by VOT in partnership with Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy & Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts:

My Interview with Clare Harris Published Today by Cerise Press

ImageA long interview that I did with Clare Harris has been published today by Cerise Press. Clare Harris is the author of “The Museum on the Roof of the World” and very generously gave her time to answer all my questions about her book, Tibet in museums, propaganda and Tibetan art. I’d like to thank Clare for her patience both when giving the interview as well as in the follow up process. I really encourage everyone to read her interview and buy the book! It’s also the kind of book that would make a great gift.

I’d also like to take the time to thank Cerise Press for giving Tibet a place in their journal several times, Cerise had also published my interview with Woeser last year. Cerise Press announced that this edition will be their last. Fortunately, all issues of Cerise will remain archived online at the current site.

Update on August 10, 2013: Very happy to report that the wonderful team at Karkhung.com have translated the entire interview into Tibetan! It is online in three parts, here are the links:

1) “འཛམ་་གླིང་ཡང་རྩེའི་འགྲེམས་སྟོན་ཁང་”གི་རྩོམ་པ་པོ་དང་མཉམ་དུ་ཁ་བརྡ་བྱས་པ།(སྔ་མ) http://karkhung.com/?p=2537

2) “འཛམ་་གླིང་ཡང་རྩེའི་འགྲེམས་སྟོན་ཁང་”གི་རྩོམ་པ་པོ་དང་མཉམ་དུ་ཁ་བརྡ་བྱས་པ།(བར་མ) http://karkhung.com/?p=2551

3) “འཛམ་་གླིང་ཡང་རྩེའི་འགྲེམས་སྟོན་ཁང་”གི་རྩོམ་པ་པོ་དང་མཉམ་དུ་ཁ་བརྡ་བྱས་པ།(མཐའ་མ) http://karkhung.com/?p=2569

My Translation of “Garpon La’s Offerings” by Woeser Published in MANOA

24-2 cover-final_to Data.indd

Following on from my first translation of a Woeser short story for MANOA, I’m pleased that a second piece titled “Garpon La’s Offerings” has now been published in Manoa, vol. 24, no. 2 (2012): “On Freedom: Spirit, Art, and State”, edited by Frank Stewart and Fiona Sze-Lorrain. The original title of the short story by Woeser la in Chinese is 《卡尔本啦的供养》.

The editor’s note says:

Woeser’s essay in On Freedom, “€œGarpon La’€™s Offerings”,€ tells the story of a Tibetan master’€™s loss and recovery of freedom. On one level, the narrator speaks in the voice of a slightly distracted reporter attempting to describe the “€œrehabilitation”€ of the political criminal Garpon La, €”the last acknowledged master of the Tibetan performance ritual known as Gar. On another level, Woeser uses irony to describe the government’s restrictions on physical, spiritual, and cultural freedoms.

I didn’t know much about Gar music and performance before translating this essay but I found Garpon La fascinating. When I told a few Tibetans about what I was translating, the older ones immediately recognised Garpon La and some even remembered him from Dharamsala!

One day last year I was on Facebook and came across a photo supposedly of Garpon La in Dharamsala in 1997, I am posting it below. I am sorry I don’t know who to credit for this photo.

1997 Garpon Passang Dhondup engaged in teaching Gar

The essay as published in MANOA is available on Project MUSE and for those without access, an excerpt is online: http://muse.jhu.edu/login?auth=0&type=summary&url=/journals/manoa/v024/24.2.woeser.html

Fantastic Weekend in Norway!

Our little book stall at the festival during our event!

Last weekend at the Bjornson International Festival of Literature in Molde, Norway, was educational, interesting and also a lot of fun. I met the wonderful writers in exile, Philo Ikonya (Kenya) and Asieh Amini (Iran) and got to know about the important of work of organisations such as The International Cities of Refuge Network.

I think my presentation went well and the audience were very kind and attentive. Chungdak la and I already did a write-up on her blog so I won’t post it again here, just click on this long link: http://chungdak.wordpress.com/2012/09/02/tibet-and-tibetan-writers-highlighted-at-the-bjornson-international-festival-of-literature-norway/

My hope is that everyone went away with a renewed sense of energy to raise awareness about the plight of Tibetan cultural figures. Furthermore, I also hope that we got people interested in Tibetan cultural output in general, in writings, music and poetry.

Highlights were Philo’s reading of Tsundue’s poem “My Tibetanness” and the concert on the closing night which I really enjoyed. A huge thank you to the organisers of the festival, everything was perfect!

Upcoming Event at the Bjørnson Festival of International Literature, Norway

Even though I just got back from India, I’m excited to be heading off again, this time to Molde, Norway, to speak at the Bjørnson Festival of International Literature. I’ve been invited by the organisers to talk about the current situation for Tibetan writers in Tibet and PRC. It’s a great opportunity to speak at a literature festival and I’m very grateful to the organisers not only for inviting me but also for putting Tibetan writers in the spotlight.

I’m going to be taking a few copies of Bhuchung D. Sonam‘s new book “Yak Horns” with me as well! In Dharamsala, I moderated the book launch event and I’m enjoying reading it myself at the moment.

Chungdak Koren of the Norwegian Tibet Committee will also join me at the event and has published a press release on her blog. Follow the link below for more information:

http://chungdak.wordpress.com/2012/08/29/suppressed-voices-of-tibetan-writers-to-be-highlighted-at-bjornson-festival-of-international-literature-norway