In January 2007 artists Susanne Bosch and Anthony Haughey invited a
group of migrants living in N. Ireland to join an experimental
participatory art project, Whose Voice is it Anyway? The project was
devised within the context of a significant demographic shift in Ireland
north and south. From the mid 90s onwards migrants arrived in both
jurisdictions attracted by unprecedented economic growth, an
expanding EU and the emerging peace process. Despite the continuing
reconciliatory dialogue between the opposing sides of the Northern
Ireland conflict, N. Ireland has been cited as one of the most racist
states in Europe. This new emerging multicultural society comprising of
returning émigrés, migrant workers and refugees from all over the world
has been an exciting period in Ireland’s history. However, the arrival of
these migrants has also led to racial tensions between established
communities and the newcomers.
The media and television programming reflecting popular culture plays
a huge role in influencing public opinion in relation to how ethnically
diverse migrants are represented. Yet with little or no access to media
outlets and control of self-representations, transnational migrants are
marginalized and effectively silenced. Moreover they are often
subjected to inaccurate and hostile reporting. The impetus for this
project was to explore the potential of taking control of the means of
production in order to subvert the idea that marginalized groups are
powerless and subject to negative and disempowering representations.
When the project started there was twenty “committed” participants
from fifteen different countries. The whole group met regularly to learn
all aspects of digital video production. Digital video has emerged as an
inexpensive, effective and enabling format for recording and revealing
the social and cultural implications of displacement and separation.
Access and participation to media production and digital technology
training, decision making, editing, presentation and public
dissemination of self-representations can ameliorate the tendency of
marginalized groups to be viewed as one-dimensional victims, instead,
becoming agents for positive affirmative expressing confidence through
the production of transcultural films and public presentations.
Following a series of workshops several participants went on to write,
direct and edit their own productions. During the summer of 2008 all of
the films were broadcast via the NVTV channel, webcast and other
public fora. Following this project a number of participants used the
experience to work within related fields.