Little Amal Art Walk will bring great hope to millions of refugees
Little Amal smiles brightly.
Muhammad Yusuf, Feature Writer
Between July and November 2021, one of the most ambitious public art projects comes to life in the body of Little Amal, a 3.5-meter puppet depicting a fictional nine-year-old Syrian girl. During the march, while the four-month event (July 27-November 3) is titled, Little Amal will travel from the Turkish-Syrian border to Gaziantep in Manchester, UK, to highlight the crisis in refugees. She is looking for her mother and tries to raise funds for refugees in Europe. She would also like to go back to school. The journey will take her through Turkey, Greece, Italy, France, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium and finally the United Kingdom.
Pakistanis have lost not only an artist but a beloved uncle
Oil painting by Pablo Picasso sells for over $ 100 million at auction in New York
Dua Lipa takes double Brit award win wants nurses’ pay to rise
It has been called a “traveling festival of art and hope” for refugees and brings together famous artists, major cultural institutions, religious leaders, schools, community groups and humanitarian organizations. New artist commissions and new events were announced over an 8,000 km route, involving more than 250 partners and artists. Partners include Manchester International Festival, National Theater, Shakespeare’s Globe, Royal Opera House, Roundhouse, Istanbul Foundation for Culture and the Arts, Izmir International Puppetry Days, Biennale of Western Balkans – BoWB, UNIMA Greece, Municipal Theater of Piraeus, Piccolo Teatro di Milano, Teatro di Roma, MAXXI Museo, Institut du Monde Arabe, La Villette, La Criée Théâtre National de Marseille, BOZAR Palais des Beaux-Arts, Theater National Wallonie-Bruxelles, La Monnaie, Grand Théâtre de Genève, Schlachthaus Theater Bern, Ruhrfestspiele Recklinghausen and Sommerblut Festival in Cologne.
The public can follow Little Amal’s journey online and attend local events. In every village, town or town she visits, she will be greeted with major new art commissions, city-wide community performances and intimate events. Little Amal’s journey begins in Gaziantep with an outdoor light installation of Qanadil lanterns. Slowly, one lantern at a time, the city will light up, revealing a path of light to follow. In Cesme (western Turkey), she will follow a path of empty shoes that will lead her to the beach. The art installation – created by the K2 Contemporary Art Center – represents the thousands of people who lost their lives during the perilous sea crossing.
In Ioannina, Greece, partners from Greece and beyond will come together to bridge the seven-kilometer gap between bustling Ioannina town center and Katsikas refugee camp, with an outdoor installation of lights and words . Alone in Athens, little Amal is afraid of getting lost. She ties a bright red woolen thread to a lamppost and leaves a mark as she walks around the city. Face to face with a minotaur puppet created by UNIMA-HELLAS, she must decide if she will face her fear and befriend the beast. In Bari (Italy), little Amal is greeted by a large puppet from an Italian Nonna (grandmother), who shares some wisdom on how to overcome obstacles she might face in the rest of her journey.
Arriving in Rome, Little Amal’s lost homeland is alive in his thoughts. Memories of war come to the surface, as paintings by Syrian visual artist Tammam Azzam are projected onto the buildings around him. After a walk in the port and the bridges of Marseille, the Syrian filmmaker and plastic artist Ammar al-Beik will present Little Amal with a jacket, under the mirrored glass roof of the Vieux Port pavilion. In Paris, a refugee camp facility will be created outside the Institut du Monde Arabe and Amal will explore the rows of tents for signs of home.
From each tent, she will see and hear glimpses of shadow art and soundscape, depicting the many countries from which the refugees have traveled. In Brussels, dancers, parkour and circus artists will come together with some of the city’s world-renowned choreographers to create a dance piece exploring her traumatic memories of home.
The Ruhfestspiele Festival (Germany, one of the oldest theater festivals in Europe), will guide the community of Recklinghausen in creating a ‘welcome route’ through the town, with painted pebbles displaying messages of welcome and hope for her. In London, Little Amal is ten years old. Her birthday begins with a dawn choir at the Royal Opera House, followed by a birthday party at the V&A Museum, with children invited from all over London.
Her big day ends with a stroll through central London, where she will receive birthday messages from the many friends she has made on her trip. Little Amal’s arrival in Manchester marks the end of his epic journey. The Manchester International Festival will feature a special exhibit exploring childhood, created with local schools and refugee communities. As she explores the exhibit, Amal will realize that she is ready to embark on a new, even longer journey: to create new life in her new home. Little Amal represents the millions of displaced refugee children separated from their families. His urgent message to the world is “Do not forget us”. Little Amal was produced by Stephen Daldry, David Lan, Tracey Seaward and Naomi Webb for Good Chance Theater, in association with the Handspring Puppet Company, and directed by artistic director Amir Nizar Zuabi.
It takes three puppeteers to make Little Amal work: a wader that also brings it to life and one on each of its arms. There is a total team of ten puppeteers, including two from refugees, who have walked the road themselves. The puppet is made from molded cane and carbon fiber. La Marche has developed an educational program that will connect young people from refugee and host communities to forge bonds of friendship. The program includes an education and activity pack of over 70 pages and notes for teachers in six languages, with illustrations by Syrian artist Diala Brisly. Also offered are a series of free online educational events for teachers and pedagogical leaders and “Make With Amal”, an online engagement program for artistic activities inspired by Amal’s journey. The walk has a Kickstarter campaign, which invites the public to help fund Amal’s journey at £ 1 per stage. Rewards include digital postcards, Walk t-shirts, exclusive zoom events with cast and crew from The Walk, and original artwork by Good Chance Ensemble artist Majid Adin, artist and host Iranian based in UK.