Impact Story

Co-creating art to spur dialogue

Published on 10 August 2023

From 2022 -2023, a number of projects at IDS have demonstrated how effective arts-based methods are in giving people a voice and facilitating meaningful and equitable dialogue.

Migrant stylists and researchers co-create art installation

A working nail salon in a glass pavilion in an Amsterdam arts venue has attracted wide interest from galleries and festivals in Europe and Vietnam. ‘Nails’, an interactive installation at the renowned Rietveld Art Academy, showcased an IDS initiative to bring together arts and social sciences. It was spearheaded by IDS Fellow Pauline Oosterhoff, who worked with Vietnamese nail salon owners, stylists, activist researchers and a Korean visual artist to explore the power dynamics of race, migration, trafficking and the lucrative beauty industry.

The installation pays tribute to 39 Vietnamese migrant workers found dead in a lorry container in Essex, UK, in 2019. Many were aspiring nail stylists. In a bid to displace the anonymity and invisibility of such workers, visitors learned of migrant stylists’ lives and aspirations through video and personal interactions.
BBC News Vietnam covered the day-long installation, which was shown again for five days in The Hague. The installation will be at De Parade, the world’s largest travelling theatre festival in Amsterdam and a book on the history of nail salons is planned.

Art spurs dialogues on inequity of climate impacts

Based in Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, Ghana, and Kenya, the paired projects ‘Citizen Voice and the Arts ’ and ‘Pan-African Network for the Arts in Environmentally Sustainable Development’ enabled citizens, policymakers, academics, and civil society to share experiences of environmental issues across cultural barriers while collaborating on artwork. Artists co-facilitated the workshops – such as the popular Malian singer Mariam Koné, who led a song-writing task – creating convivial atmospheres. In Senegal, consensus was reached to portray climate change from a socio-political angle, rather than neutrally. A shared awareness emerged that climate change is affecting individuals and communities unequally.

The views expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of IDS.

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