PAST/ ARCHIVE: Weds 17th September 2014 – Hamja Ahsan speaking on Prisoners & War on Terror at Art Exhibition 6pm – 7.30pm = Queens Arcade

As part of acclaimed artist David Garner’s new exhibition in Cardiff, we will feature 2 talks and discussion -

  • 18:00–19:30
  • Exhibition venue:
    Arcade Cardiff, Queens Arcade, Cardiff, CF10 2BY, Unit 3b, By New Look, down the escalators



OLA ASHI is a young Palestinian campaigner in South Wales. She will lead a discussion on Islamophobia based on experiences in Cardiff discussing wider politics.

HAMJA AHSAN (Free Talha Ahsan Campaign) is a South London based artist, curator and political activist. He will discuss the prisoners created by ‘the war on terror’ and read from the prison letters of Talha Ahsan.

In 2006, his brother, Talha Ahsan, a poet & human right campaign with Aspergers syndrome was arrested and held for 6 years in prison without trial or charge before being extradited to solitary confinement in a maximum security prison in the US. Along with Babar Ahmad, Talha made legal history, no British citizens have ever been held for years in British prisons without trial for so many years.

Hamja Ahsan was shortlisted for the Liberty Human Rights Award 2013 for Free Talha Ahsan campaign. use of Arts in highlighting the injustice of Extradition law
Campaign website:
Watch the film:

DAVID GARNER is an installation artist known for his use of found objects and overtly political themes. At Arcadecardiff he presents a series of emotive and disturbing works, most of which have not been seen in Wales, that reflect the current political climate. Garner will be present throughout the exhibition to discuss the themes within these works.

NOTE: New details. Venue for talk on Wednesday 17th is THE ABACUS, St Davids House, 18/20 Wood Street at 6.30 pm. Please go and see the exhibition by David Garner at Arcadecardiff in the Queens Arcade in advance beforehand and people will direct you to THE ABACUS for talk. This is about 10 mins away and probably people will walk down as a group.

The Queens Arcade shopping centre management have apparently blocked our talk as they say they don’t allow ‘political events’ despite the exhibition being very political, and the talks directly related to themes in the exhibition. The artist, art space and exhibition organisers are deeply unhappy about this censorship, and apologise for any inconvenience. Nevertheless, the show must go on…

Exhibition Notes: fb jim crow 10612793_10152338183045233_6521787708660182812_n

‘The subject matter of David Garner’s art can broadly be divided into three main tranches or waves:

1) The assault on the miners and South Wales
2) The persecution and scapegoating of refugees and asylum seekers;
3) The so-called ‘war on terror’ and the demonisation of Muslims.

To some in the art world this might seem a surprising trajectory- from Ebbw Vale to the Muslim veil – and one which might move Garner away from the roots I described above. In fact there is a powerful logic and dynamic here.

The miners were Thatcher’s ‘enemy within’, to be crushed and discarded. Asylum seekers (bogus, of course) and those dreadful ‘economic migrants’ were the foreign enemy seeking to get ‘within’ and ‘take our jobs’ or ‘swamp our culture’. The terrorists/ Islamic fundamentalists are the enemy without – in Afghanistan, Iraq…Iran? – and within – on the London Underground , perhaps in the Mosque down the road.

And in each case these ‘threats’ are invoked not by, or on behalf of, the British people or the British working class, but by, and on behalf of, the British ruling class precisely as a means of strengthening its hold on the minds of its white working class subjects and as part of its centuries old imperial strategy of divide and rule.

This is the logic of expanding working class consciousness: from the immediate and personal experience of exploitation and oppression, through an identification with your oppressors’ other victims and enemies to global solidarity. It was the logic of the miners’ strike beginning, as all socialists who worked in solidarity with the strike will remember, with arguments with miners about womens’ right to work and Page 3, and ended with women on the picket lines, lesbians and gays leading miners’ marches, and solidarity with Broadwater Farm.

It is a logic which David Garner’s art embodies and expresses with compelling intensity. In this exhibition he confronts us with the terrible sign from the gates of Auschwitz and its awful motto ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’, to situate imperialist war and Islamophobia historically, to remind us of the trajectory and essence of racism and to insist always on the possibility of resistance.

He invokes Jim Crow to remind us of the still menacing racism against black people which forms a kind of platform on which current Islamophobia rests and builds. He shows, literally, how the Muslim identity has been besieged and hemmed in by hostile nails and how the ‘war on terror’ has undermined the civil rights and basic liberties of all of us.

Above all his art demonstrates, by means of telling visual objective correlatives, that defending the right of a Muslim woman in Baghdad or Birmingham to wear or not wear the hijab is not only defending her human rights and potential liberation, but goes hand in hand with supporting the Palestinian resistance, opposing Bush and Blair’s ‘poppycock’ wars and fighting for the future of working people in South Wales and everywhere. Truly art for our times.’

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