Noori Awan, the daughter of a Birmingham-based Pakistani businessman recalls, “We didn’t know what was happening.
How could a strong healthy man like my father be suffering from Covid. We just could not understand what was going on and we couldn’t get to see him.” Mr. Awan died, and like many others across Pakistan and the UK, Covid-19 has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands.
Songs Of Solitude (SOS), conceived and directed by Mukhtar Dar and Arieb Azhar, is an online digital collaboration that combines testimonials, spoken word, soundscapes, music, and movement to share stories of two Pakistani families - a Christian minority family in Pakistan and a Muslim minority family in Birmingham, whilst grieving for their loved ones, share hope for a better tomorrow.
The Emanuel family in Faisalabad, and the Awan family in Birmingham share heart-wrenching accounts of life and loss under the pandemic lockdowns. This international collaboration between Art Langar (Pakistan) and Kalaboration Arts (Birmingham), with a dynamic range of artistes, reflects on the isolation and loss during the liminality of the lockdowns. From Pakistan, Zohaib Hassan (Sarangi), Anna Hafisba (Gospel), Arieb Azhar (Spoken word) and Zain Ali (Composer) join forces with Waqas Choudhary and Waqas Malik (Bansuri) Muki aka Mukhtar Ahmad (Urban Singer) and Aishani Ghosh (Dancer) from Birmingham, to affirm that there is hope for a better tomorrow.
Covid-19 pandemic, climate catastrophe and the unprecedented global inequality are ravaging the lives and lands of the world’s poorest and most marginalised communities. The arts play a powerful role in any crisis, allowing us to reflect and express sadness and hope and to bring people and ideas together and contribute to challenging the status quo. In our challenges of the ‘new norm’, we must engage with the root cause of visceral injustices that the pandemic has exposed and draw together a plurality of experiences, visions and solutions from the Global South and North to bring about justice for all.
SOS is our expression, our collective voice of what it means to be human. It has allowed us to communicate across continents during this liminal moment, generating positivity, appreciation and hope amidst this ongoing crisis.
SOS world premiere and post-screening Q&A with the directors takes place as an online live stream