The Bertha Artivism Awards is an opportunity for activist artists, arts collectives and organizations around the world to use the arts as a Call to Action – to nonviolently instigate measurable change in a community.
Going beyond ‘raising awareness’ Bertha Artivists will empower and mobilize communities in collaboration with social justice organizations, campaigns, or movements to achieve specific and measurable change.
Aluro30 (Juan Carlos Reyes García)
Guardians of Mother Language
The Indigenous language is among the forms of expression of intangible heritage in the world. It is therefore important to be aware that as Indigenous languages disappear, the culture and identity of large numbers of Indigenous people also disappears. The main objective of this project is to make a series of portraits, and audio postcards as well as a documentary record that shows the environment of these communities and preserve the identity of the inhabitants. Indigenous people who fight not to let their mother tongue die.
Juan Carlos Reyes García is a Oaxaqueño documentary photographer with more than 30 years of experience, specializing in photo-documentation of interculturality in traditional Indigenous and community practices of Mexico, mainly in Oaxaca. For Juan Carlos Reyes, photography is a way to connect with the vulnerability of others in order to discover human strength. Juan Carlos Reyes is a member of the National System of Art Creators in Mexico.
Instagram: @aluro30, @aluro30_portraits
Photo credit: Bret Hartman
Photo credit: Bret Hartman
Yalalteca, Mexican Indigenous documentary photographer, Citlali Fabián uses photography to explore ways of addressing identity and its connections with territory, migration and community bonds. Fabián is a 2020 Visura mentee, Magnum fellow, England Art Council Grantee, National Geographic Society explorer and a 2023 World Press Photo Contest jury member.
Her work has been shown in solo and collective exhibitions in Mexico, the U.S., Spain and Argentina. Her work has been covered at the New York Times and it also has appeared in different media like LA Times, The Guardian, Buzzfeed, Remezcla, Revista Cuartoscuro and IM Magazine among others.
For her Bertha Artivism Awards project, Citlali is co-creating a series of portraits with her birhas, to reflect and visualize the roles of contemporary Indigenous women in their communities. The project will create a series for girls in Oaxaca state, to expand their horizons and get inspired by women with their backgrounds.
"Birha is a concept in Zapotec, the native language of my ancestors, used by women to refer to other women in their lives; the ones with whom we have emotional connections. It can be used from aunties to nieces and back, between cousins, and sisters, but also between friends. The concept obliterates hierarchies and reaffirms sorority as an intrinsic part of our worldview."
Collective DePART / audio installation: IF ALL EARS COULD HEAR
The Collective DePART – Decentralized Practices of Active Remembrance and Theatricalization – is a transdisciplinary collective of international artists and facilitators playing with the intersection of art, activism and research. Anna Szepes (HU/AT), Cat Jugravu (DE/RO), Jonas Baur (AT/DE) and Dominik Jellen (AT) began their collaboration during their master's degree studies in Applied Theatre - Artistic Theatre Practice & Society at Mozarteum University in Salzburg, Austria. Their political working themes and their research-oriented formats emphasize community building, the involvement of local partners and the exploration of untold stories and forgotten shadow histories. The collective aims to question the dominant narratives that shape our understanding of the past, seeking a more nuanced and inclusive perspective on remembrance.
DePART created its core project IF ALL EARS COULD HEAR in 2021. The audio installation was developed with international collaborators and has so far been presented in four cities in three European countries. It is a participatory and performative piece focusing on the practice of active remembrance. As a temporary, wandering and tender memorial, the installation marks erased and forgotten sites of oppression. Through the creation of witness partnerships, letters are written to individuals, Rom*nja and Sinti*zze, who were murdered during Porajmos, the genocide of Roma people during fascism in World War II. As only biographical fragments remain, the installation aims to reclaim their memory and give voice to their imagined stories. The letters are written and then recorded by authors who are activists and creators from Roma communities as well as supporters. The growing archive of letters marks the past as present and creates a space for mourning. By imagining the individual stories of the addressed persons and by highlighting the practices of resistance of those addressing, the installation offers gentle, loving, empowering as well as angry and demanding counter-narratives to erasure and forgetting. Growing out of the ground and sending the voices of the authors across the field, the installation asks the audience to become accomplices by acknowledging the inescapable relevance of the past and by taking personal responsibility for solidarity. The letter archive’s narrative of care is honoring the soil as the source and bearer of memory and history, and describes listening as a beginning.
With the support of Bertha Foundation, DePART will continue its work dedicated to the local specificities of Porajmos in Hungary. By developing a methodological toolkit and training multipliers, the collective aims to make their practice of Active Remembrance accessible to communities everywhere. By developing an online version of the installation, the archive of letters will be accessible around the world.
Photo Credit: Márton K. Takács
Detroit Narrative Agency
Detroit Narrative Agency (DNA) is a community organization that disrupts harmful dominant media narratives by supporting Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) to explore and create media storytelling projects that build collective healing, power and liberation. We focus on non-extractive media storytelling, centering and amplifying the voices of our city, and providing skillbuilding opportunities within film and media production with a focus on community impact. Since 2015, DNA has been providing BIPOC storytellers with workshops, fellowships, community and ways to learn through practice to build a foundation of narrative power throughout Detroit. Our work is grounded in anti-oppression principles and our values of powerful storytelling, person and place based relationships, radical creativity and learning.
Radical Remedies, DNA’s rapid response video project where Detroit creators create art relevant to an issue impacting BIPOC Detroiters for liberation, for healing and for information. Filmmakers are encouraged to create and submit a short film, five minutes or less, responding to a prompt on a topic that is relevant in impacting our communities. Through the Bertha Artivism Awards, DNA will be able to expand to producing and screening these Radical Remedies, document behind-the scenes looks at our projects and their impact and connect audiences with the storytellers to expand community building and collective problem solving.
Runa Kawsay is a collaborative transmedia project that centers the experiences of the Kichwa diasporic community living in North America. Through community building, regenerative storytelling and collaborative photo practice, this project seeks to drive new narratives around indigeneity, particularly from a Kichwa lens.
By leaning on traditional Kichwa practices of gathering and storytelling, Eli will host photo education workshops with the people she has photographed for this series. Eli will develop community photo education workshops where those she has photographed will be directly involved in the construction of a visual narrative.
Eli Farinango is a Kichwa artist and visual storyteller, born in Quito, Ecuador and raised in Ottawa, Canada. Through her practice she explores the vastness and beauty of the healing journey while making intentional space to reclaim personal and ancestral memory through image-making and collaborative processes. Her work appears in the Women Photographers International Archive, British Journal of Photography, The New Republic, NPR, Where The Leaves Fall, Terremoto Magazine and has been exhibited in various venues across North America including Photoville, Toronto Media Arts Center, Colorado Photographic Arts Center, the International Center of Photography and Leica Gallery Miami.
Eli has received grants and awards from Women Photograph, Indigenous Photograph, National Geographic Society and Ontario Arts Council and most recently (2022) she was awarded the Leica Women Foto Project Award.
Fundación Afrojuvenil Matamba & Posá Suto
POSÁ SUTO (Our House in Palenque language) is an Afrocentric and anti-racist space by and for black, queer, trans, diverse people seeking freedom, healing and justice. Our House, a deeply spiritual and ancestrally artistic space which finds through art, collectivity, the resignification of love, ancestral medicine and all the magic of queerness, the paths to heal and strengthen our existences. Our tools to celebrate black queer lives are the Maricrófonos where we display the art of maricas Negras (black queer folks), the spiritual healing sessions to vindicate our afrodiasporic ancestry, as well as the school for body knowledge and empowerment for afro kids.
The Afrojuvenil Matamba Foundation is an alternative and popular media. With an ethnic/racial focus that revolves around a policy of anti-racist action, sexual and gender dissidence; we seek to make visible the realities of black communities in Colombia. Matamba produces; a biannual digital magazine, audiovisual productions, research and intervention projects, On-site/virtual forums and a wonderful group called: "Negrxs, Maricas y Disidentes" (Black, Queer and Dissident)
Artivismo Marica Afrofuturista
POSÁ SUTO and Matamba will gather more than 20 black queer artivists to share knowledge, tools, strategies and life experiences in order to strengthen and promote gender queer black artists in Colombia, through a platform for training and content creation and dissemination. We will work on topics of our interests such as Blackness and Racial Justice, Identity and Gender Diversities, Afrofuturism, Black Artivism, Mental Health and Spirituality with Afrodiasporic approach, Digital Marketing and Organizational Strengthening. The project aims to be a space for collective artivist creation that can recognize the voices, experiences and actions of resistance and re-existence from art and social advocacy of young black sexual dissidents in Colombia.
Fundación Afrojuvenil Matamba
Photo credit: Sama Haddad
Photo credit: Sama Haddad
The Javaad Alipoor Company
The Javaad Alipoor Company is a contemporary theater company that makes work for a changing world and a global audience. Rooted in experimental and multi-platform practice the Company’s work asks the most pressing questions we all face, with a commitment to internationalism, complexity, diversity and fun. We make work for the 21st Century, transforming what people think theater can be and what it can do.
The Javaad Alipoor Company (TJAC) will lead a unique community engagement project focused on empowering the Gypsy Roma and Traveller (GRT) community in North West England through skills development and artist workshops and performances from March – May 2024, delivered in close collaboration with KaskoSan. KaskoSan are founded by East European Roma living in the UK, who’ve grown a proactive and self-assertive community that is proudly reclaiming its culture to erase centuries of misinformation about Romani speakers and their descendants.
Photo credit: Chris Payne
Raam is an Iranian musician, writer, actor and podcast host. He started his musical career in the undergrounds of Tehran. With a great deal of international press behind his band, including features in New York Times, MTV, Billboard, NPR, CNN, VICE, NME and Vanity Fair, Raam paved the way for a new generation of aspiring underground Iranian artists. In January 2018, Raam's father, Kavous Seyed Emami, a prominent environmentalist, was arrested in Tehran under false charges of espionage. Two weeks after his arrest he was killed in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison. Raam and his family attempted to flee Iran, but the authorities detained his mother and confiscated her passport. Raam and his brother were allowed to leave, but his mother was held hostage in Iran for 582 days. Besides his live shows with his band, Raam has also channeled his creative energy into a one man storytelling performance called “Departure” about his family's experience and his father's legacy, woven together with his music. He also has a podcast in Persian called "Masty o Rasty," since its inception in 2020 the show has had over 40 million streams.
As an expatriate artist grappling with the ramifications of political violence, Raam has consistently employed his artistic endeavors and platforms to articulate solidarity and amplify the voices of those relegated to the margins or forcibly silenced. The inception of the Women, Life, Freedom movement in Iran served as a catalyst, sparking a formidable uprising led by the courageous women of the nation, galvanized by the tragic death of Mahsa Amini. During this pivotal movement, Raam engaged with numerous women, each sharing poignant narratives of their struggles for freedom, their fundamental human rights and, notably, autonomy over their own bodies. Motivated by a desire to document the life experiences of those courageously risking everything, Raam initiated a project for the Bertha Artivism Awards wherein he undertook the composition and production of songs using the poems of Iranian women. These women, constrained by the looming specter of reprisal, are denied the privilege of publicly expressing their experience and writings through song. To circumvent this suppression, Raam enlisted singers from countries enjoying the liberties of a more emancipated society, tasking them with bringing to life the poignant verses crafted by these Iranian women. This creative initiative thus seeks to bridge the gap between disparate societal freedoms, fostering a cross-cultural exchange of voices and narratives that transcend the limitations imposed by political constraints.
Photo Credit: Hami Roshan
Makani works with refugee women to overcome trauma, fight for their rights, and to change their lives and the world around them - all through the transformative power of the arts. Makani were originally founded to work with Syrian and Palestinian refugee women in Lebanon, where they have put on a reimagined production of Sophocles' 'Antigone', worked with refugee women to make films about their lives, and run Oshana, a long-term craft therapy project that also helps women win financial independence. Makani now also work in London with refugee women from all over the world, where they are putting on a reinterpretation of an ancient Greek comedy about women going on strike to end a war.
Film for Freedom: filmmaking with refugee and asylum-seeking women
The Bertha Artivism Award will enable Makani to start their second UK project, training ten refugee and asylum-seeking women in the fundamentals of filmmaking, mentoring them as they make films on the issues of their choice, connecting them with organizations working on these issues and supporting them to use their films in campaigning and awareness-raising. This project comes at a time when refugee rights are severely under threat in the UK with the government's proposal to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda, and the general inhumanity of the asylum system. Refugees and asylum seekers are facing increasing scapegoating and xenophobia, and forced to live in dire poverty in shocking conditions. Creating space for empathy and understanding, and creating films that can be used in campaigning, could not be more timely or more needed.
Matthew Kamakani Lynch
DJ Kamakani is an Artist whose chosen canvas for the past decade has been Institutional Transformation. He has worked to create conditions that are conducive to catalyzing transformation within legacy institutions such as Higher Education and Executive Leadership across sectors. Now he is working through the universal language of music to move hearts and minds towards reconnection with our Grandmother Earth.
DJ Kamakani has been working with a collective of leaders from Molokai to create and curate a multi-genre compilation album to raise global awareness of Molokai’s efforts to buy back their ancestral lands from the absentee, billionaire landowners who have neglected and mismanaged these lands for too long. The Artists selected are / will be Indigenous and Indigenous-ally Artists from across the Hawaiian islands and beyond. Through this project, the collective seeks to uplift the global LANDBACK movement of returning entire landscapes to Indigenous stewardship in exciting and inspiring ways.
Michael Jabareen & Ramez Melhem
Michael Jabareen is an artist, designer, architect and performer from Palestine. He was born in occupied Palestine in the city of Nazareth and grew up in Jenin with two parents whose families were forcibly displaced by the Zionist militia during the Palestinian Nakba around 1948, from Beit Jebrin-AlKhalil (Hebron) and Yafa (Jaffa). Michael, with an academic background in architectural engineering and visual and experience design, works in the intersections between visual arts, graphics, videography, theatrical performance and spatial and architectural design. In his projects and collaborations, Michael, through his art, aims to expose the atrocities and crimes of global colonial structures, and hopes to guide the public to act for change rather than stand by and watch.
Ramez Melhem is a multimedia artist. He was born in Homs-Syria, and he has been based in Berlin since 2014. Ramez has professional experience that varies between logistics and studio management, production, visual design and photography. He works on a diverse range of artistic projects using photography and digital collages tackling social and political causes.
The Terminal is a mobile periodical event that focuses on displaying the artwork (visual art, video, audio, performance, etc.) of artists from migrant, refugee, marginalized and discriminated backgrounds who face hardships and difficulties in traveling from their current geographical locations to places with artistic production capacities and audience. With Berlin as the base of the project, as one of Europe's arts hubs, the audience/public will be part of a performative, interactive experience that switches the privileges of freedom of movement between the artists and the audience, believing that a simulation to reality and creating a memorable personal experience with it will help the audience to better understand it and act to change it.
Rawz is a Multidisciplinary Artist from Oxford. His practice centers around words and music, and is rooted in social justice and the exploration and understanding of our interconnected worlds. Growing up in one of the UK’s most under-served areas, Greater Leys in Oxford, he first discovered lyric writing in his early teens, finding it an essential way to channel his emotions and organize his thoughts. Since then, Rawz has performed his craft all over Europe, collaborated with musicians from all over the world, and shared stages with some of his childhood heroes. As his practice as a Poet and Musician developed, Rawz explored other means of expression; bringing these skills together with his poetry and music to create projects which combine a range of media. Through Art, Rawz shares his exploration of interconnection and interdependence. His responses often promote outer change and advancement through inner reflection, and positive action. From leaving school with no GCSEs, to becoming Resident Sound Artist at one of the world’s most prestigious learning institutions, his personal journey stands as testament to his resilient character, and strong work ethic.
ArtUnity is a project rooted in the power of art to break down barriers and initiate social change. It incorporates various artistic mediums, genres and narratives to address the divides and disparities within the UK city of Oxford, which contains some of the starkest contrasts in the country, particularly in the context of socio-economic and racial inequalities. Throughout the year, the project will commission work from artists with a diverse range of life experiences, curate and facilitate exhibitions, events and happenings that encourage networking and collaboration among activists, artists and community members, with the aim of creating a strong and unified movement for social change. The project's events provide opportunities for art appreciation, ideation, networking and collaborative action. The ultimate aim is to foster understanding, collaboration and solidarity between various intersecting groups in the city, by bringing them to the same table and creating shared identity through storytelling and art.
Photo Credit: Oxford Atelier
About Bertha Foundation
Bertha Foundation fights for a more just world. We support activists, storytellers, and lawyers who are working to bring about social and economic justice and human rights for all.