Thank you all: THIS WAS MUSIC FREEDOM DAY OSLO 2019

March 6, 2019

Artists, activists and organizations gathered together at Kulturhuset down town Oslo Sunday 3rd March celebrating music and art, artistic freedom and solidarity. A broad and diverse program including live performances, film screening and discussions.

At daytime the four first SAFE-videos was screened on the walls of the ground floor main café, and from 17:00 the program was started by Lebanese artist, curator and gallerist Tewa Barnosa, painting the word ‘Tazuri’ (Art) in the Tamazight language, the native language in North African countries such as Libya, Algeria and Morocco. The painting was done directly on a canvas of the SafeMUSE poster-photo by Najma Abukar. The calligraphy performance was accompanied by Oslo-based classical Indian violinist Harpeet Bansal’s soft alap-like introduction. In addition, the Palestinian rapper Khaled Harara performed two of his original rap lyrics. A strong and diverse opening to a full afternoon/ evening program of music and discussion.

Next on the program was a deep felt and beautiful musical meeting between two traditions, traditional Hazara music performed by a highly acknowledged artist Hamid Sakhizada from Afghanistan, now guest artist in Safe Haven Harstad, Norway, brilliantly followed and accompanied by the North Indian classical violin played by Harpeet Bansal.

The seminar part of the event started out with Dr. Srirak Plipat, Executive Director of Freemuse, presenting a sneak peek on some main findings from the upcoming report “The State of Artistic Freedom 2019”:  

  • 2017 – 165 cases on music, 2018 – 270 cases: 63 censored, 4 abducted, 22 attacked, 12 detained, 31 imprisoned, 31 prosecuted and 2 musicians killed.
  • Musicians’ rights to artistic freedom are violated in over 50 countries: most cases are found in Nigeria, Turkey and Russia,
  • Over 30 musicians were imprisoned in 2018: leading the field by Spain (14 rappers), China and Egypt,
  • Freemuse recorded threats and harassment to musicians in at least 9 countries: the highest number of cases are in the US,
  • Downward trends as new laws being proposed to tightly control musicians: Uganda, Uzbekistan and Indonesia

This presentation was followed by a panel discussing artistic freedom in the light of the theme “Woman’s rights & LGBT rights are just human rights”. The panel was in addition to Srirak Plipat from Freemuse comprised of Dounia Benslimane, Director of Development & Partnerships, Racines (a Moroccan NGO ordered by court to dissolute); Tewa Barnosa, artist, curator and gallerist; Alexandra Archetti Stølen, Festival Director, Oslo World; and Jude Dibia, Nigerian author and former ICORN writer-in-residence in Malmö City. The conversation was led by Norwegian/ Gambian performance artist, playwright and author Camara Lundestad Joof. (The full launch of the State of Artistic Freedom report will be in Oslo on 26 March at Fritt Ord.)

The Music Freedom Day event on Sunday also concluded the SAFE video-series by SafeMUSE, launching film #5. The final film documents a meeting between Iranian singer songwriter Farzane Zamen and Norwegian artist and former Minister of Culture, Åse Kleveland. The series started out 3rd November last year in the very same venue. The first film with Mai Khoi and Moddy was launched during NRK Jungeltelegrafen’s live Oslo World broadcast, interviewing Mai Khoi.

The program at Kulturhuset 3rd March closed with an inspired and bluesy performance by Sudanese peace singer and former guest artist in the city of Harstad, Abazar Hamid, together with legendary Norwegian blues guitarist Knut Reiersrud, presenting music from the LIDIO-release “We Need Peace”, plus some brand new material.

Then the program concluded at the metal club Rock In with a powerful afterparty. Iranian old school black metal artist, Sina Winter, SafeMUSE’s very first residence artist, and his band From the Vastland (Tjalve, bass; Spektre, drums; and Destructhor, guitar plus Sina, vocal/guitar) took on stage with the music from their very last album “Daevayasna”, inspired by Zoroastrianism, the mythology of Persia and Mesopotamia and the correlations between the texts of Edda (the source of Norse Mythology) and Avesta (the sacred texts of Zoroastrian).

An intense and energetic closure of a worthy, serious, joyful, beautiful and powerful marking of Music Freedom Day 2019 in Oslo – for reflection and inspiration!

The event was organized by SafeMUSE in close cooperation with Freemuse and contributions from Cultur Troms (Troms County Council) and Inferno Metal Festival, and funding from Fritt Ord, Bergesenstiftelsen, Creo, Nopa and The Norwegian Society of Composers.

ALL PHOTOS BY KNUT UTLER/ SafeMUSE

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