You can listen to Voices of Migration here.
As I looked down the list of New Creative pieces to review, the word migration jumped out at me. Migration is something we are all familiar with in some way, whether it’s migrating from our parents home to a tiny uni dorm room, migrating across the country for the job of your dreams, or migrating to the other side of the world to follow the one you love. It is a concept that feels familiar to many, especially in a time of such uncertainty when we are all forced to stay in the same place.
But in ‘Voices of Migration’, the word takes on another meaning. This isn’t just about choosing to move on because you are bored or restless, it's about migrating because you have no other choice. ‘Why does anyone ever leave?’ the speaker asks. Because ‘you can’t return to a home still in flames’.
Voices of Migration tells three overlapping yet very different stories about people migrating far away from their home. The audios are cleverly blended and intertwined, just as the speaker's stories do. Three different countries, three different people, but one thread pulling them all together: searching for home.
With the toxic discourse around refugees occuring in the UK at the moment, this piece feels well-timed. People lost and searching for their home after losing everything and packing their lives in a suitcase are told to ‘speak English’ or ‘go home’ – things said so much at the moment that they nearly sound normal, but for those that hear them every day they hit differently. They are living in a country where the people around them cannot even pronounce their name. Your name, something so central to you, and who you are. A mark of your past, and the vessel to carry you into the future, and you now live in a country where the only thing it means to them is ‘alien’.
‘Voices of migration’ integrates the want to fit in with the want to retain our heritage, the pressure to sound English forcing refugees to speak so that their ‘accent taste(s) like a lie’ in their mouth. We force them to conform to some kind of warped stereotype of ‘Britishness’, whilst refusing to acknowledge the lives and cultures we have destroyed in order to have the country we do today. We are happy to pillage and rape and steal, to be one of the world’s biggest arms dealers, but when the conequences of our actions are drowning in our Channel, knocking on our borders and bringing their rich culture and lives into the UK we resent them, turning them away and washing our hands of the mess we have made of their lives and their country. Is it through a sense of guilt? Jealousy of the rich heritage and culture we failed to develop? Or is it because if we really looked in their eyes, then we could no longer ignore their plight?
‘You can’t return to a house still in flames. Even when the smoke has settled, it will never look the same.’
New Creatives is a talent development scheme supported by Arts Council England and BBC Arts. Check out our New Creatives coverage in the New Creatives Voicebox.