Ber/Lon – A Tale of Two (Gentrifying) Cities

For centuries the cities of London and Berlin have been transformed and re-invented by people from all over the world, who have created vibrant cultures in local areas at the intersection of art and politics. Is this all under threat now, as creative and political spaces are eaten up developers and capital cities are overrun by the power of capital?

Join artists Joshua Idehen and Adelaide Ivánova, Johny Pitts and Joanna Legid as they confront these issues in the London and Berlin neighbourhoods at the forefront of change. Through multilingual poetry and prose, photography and music, Ber/Lon explores what is lost — what we lose — when working-class, multicultural areas become gentrified.

Where and When

LONDON

Wednesday 19 February 2020 at Candid Arts Basement, 3 Torrens Street, London EC1V 1NQ. Tickets £5 / £3 concessions

BERLIN

Friday 28 February 2020 at Literaturhaus Lettrétage, Mehringdamm 61, 10961 Berlin

Left to right: Joshua Idehen, Adelaide Ivanova, Johny Pitts, Joanna Legid
Left to right: Joshua Idehen, Adelaide Ivanova, Johny Pitts, Joanna Legid

Artists

Joshua Idehen is a poet, teacher and musician. A British-born Nigerian, his poetry has been published widely and he has performed across Europe. His interest in the impact of gentrification and the closure of music venues led him to create the online fanzine anothergreatnightout.com, to celebrate Passing Clouds, one of the first venues he played in. He has collaborated with Mercury nominated artists The Comet Is Coming and Sons of Kemet. The album Last Night with dance pop band Benin City was released in 2018 (Moshi Moshi Music). He is currently working on his debut poetry collection and a one man show.

Brazilian Adelaide Ivánova is a journalist and political activist working with poetry, photography, performance, translation and publishing. Her poems have been translated into German, Galician, English, Spanish, Greek and Italian. Her photos/texts have appeared in The Huffington Post (USA), Marie Claire (Brazil) and Modern Poetry in Translation (UK) among others. Her photo reportage can be seen in Kunst Museum Dieselkraftwerk (Germany), L’arthotèque Museum of Fine Arts (France) and Galeria Murilo Castro (Brazil). In 2018 her poetry book o martelo won the Rio Literature Award. She edits the anti-capitalist poetry zine MAIS NORDESTE, PVFR! with leftist poets from Brazil’s northeast. She lives in Berlin, earning a living as baby-sitter, life model, waiter and other alienating jobs. 

Johny Pitts is a writer, photographer and broadcast journalist. His book Afropean came out in the UK in June 2019 to critical acclaim and is being translated into German and French among others. He has received various awards for his work exploring African-European identity, including a Decibel Penguin Prize and a European Network Against Racism Award. He is the curator of the online journal Afropean.com, part of the Guardian‘s Africa Network and has collaborated with acclaimed author Caryl Philips on a photographic essay about London’s immigrant communities for the BBC and Arts Council England.

Joanna Catherine Schröder aka Joanna Legid is an analogue photographer capturing people, things and places through the lens of her camera. Born in Rwanda to a German father and a Rwandan mother, Joanna has lived in different places until she moved to Berlin ten years ago. With a love for the intimate moment between staged poses and a trained eye for imperfection, her photography focuses on portrait as well as documentary work. She is also the co-founder of heartxwork.com, a creative platform which assembles stories of Germans with a migration background as well as BIPOCs living in Germany.

A Speaking Volumes production with Lettrétage, funded by the Goethe Institute

Breaking Ground: Celebrating Writers of Colour

The next chapter of Speaking Volumes’ Breaking Ground project began in 2017 with the launch of a new booklet celebrating writers of colour. We hope that the booklet is a valuable resource both at home and overseas, demonstrating the wide and varied literature of the UK whilst raising the profile and giving a platform to 200 contemporary British BAME authors. It was launched at London Book Fair.

The booklet accompanied major Breaking Ground showcases of British writers of colour in five European cities over 12 months, plus a series of events in the UK. Speaking Volumes took poets and prose authors to Tampere in Finland, Lisbon in Portugal, Madrid and Seville in Spain, Berlin in Germany and Brussels in Belgium. For each showcase we arranged for the translation of the visiting writers work into the language of the host country, printed individual brochures and distributed them to audiences and literature professionals in each country. These brochures can be read with the overview of each country visited along with videos and photos of each showcase.

Read the brochure in full here:

Breaking Ground Finland

Poets Zena Edwards, Vanessa Kisuule, Solomon OB, Roger Robinson and Yomi Sode performed at FestAfrika and the AfroEuropes Conference in Finalnd’s second city Tampere. Johny Pitts also gave a keynote address at the conference.

Breaking Ground Portugal

Peter Kalu and Jacob Ross gave a readings and a discussion on black British thrillers and crime writing at the Jose Saramago Foundation in Lisbon.

Breaking Ground Spain

Authors Yvvette Edwards, Colin Grant, Peter Kalu, Irenosen Okoje, Jacob Ross and Leone Ross gave talks and performed at the Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora (ASWAD) conference being held in Seville, Spain. Prior to the conference, the women of the group took part in events at the University of Alcala in Madrid.

Breaking Ground Berlin

Francesca Beard, Rishi Dastidar, Caleb Femi and Xialou Gao presented multi-media adaptations of their work at Berlin organisation Lettrétage, which included film and audio accompaniments, a pecha kucha slideshow and a dual language theatre piece. In between each live performance was a filmed one, with Karen McCarthy Woolf’s Dancing Words piece, the premiere of Bidisha’s first poetry film, and a show of Johny Pitts’ Afropean travel photos.

Breaking Ground Brussels

As part of the Afropean conference at BOZAR Brussels, Speaking Volumes were invited to bring a Breaking Ground showcase for the headline event. Inua Ellams, Bernardine Evairsto, Amina Jama, Catherine Johnson read a mixture of prose and poetry on a bill opened by legendary dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson, and followed by a 40 minute version of Nick Makoha and Roger Robinson’s Mixtape show.

Find out about the Breaking Ground US tours in 2015 and 2016 here.