Two artists. Two artworks. One message: defend artists and artistic freedom.
The #ArtistsxArtists campaign was launched by the Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) to help raise awareness about challenges to artistic freedom and catalyze solidarity between artists and the art community. The campaign pairs established artists, emerging artists, and artists at risk—within and across disciplines—to create an unique art piece that engages pressing topics in creative expression and global human rights. By encouraging collaboration, the initiative aims to help artists at risk forge connections with other artists and cultural practitioners, generating a chain of solidarity that elevates visibility of threatened artists, bolsters their defenses in the face of worldwide challenges, and amplifies their vital voices.
Mai Khoi and Hamed Sinno
For the second installment of #ArtistsxArtists, ARC brought together Vietnamese songwriter and activist Mai Khoi and Lebanese vocalist Hamed Sinno—two world-renowned musicians who each have had to navigate profound risks to share their voices—for the song “Antibodies.”
Both artists have paid a steep price for their work. Khoi, who began her career as a hugely successful pop singer, eventually had to flee her home country after voicing pro-democracy opinions and facing threats as a result. Like Khoi, Hamed has amassed a huge following in his home country as lead singer for Mashrou’ Leila, one of the biggest bands in Lebanon. But because he proudly embraces his queer identity in his lyrics, he began receiving death threats and was forced to separate from the band and go into self-exile in the United States.
When ARC brought Khoi and Hamed together over video chat, the artists—like millions around the world—were weeks into the COVID-19 lockdown. A few days after they first spoke, George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis. Using these twin calamities as inspiration, Khoi and Hamed co-wrote "Antibodies," and the result is breathtaking: a two-part exploration of the grief of injustice and loneliness, compounded by the health crisis and plague of human rights violations. From Khoi’s ethereal instrumental arrangement to Hamed’s haunting, wistful verse, the song is an emotionally complex slow burn. Magically atmospheric, the song not only captures the current moment’s sense of isolation and disorientation, but also the yearning and hope for a better future that is fueling unprecedented social movements across the globe.
Learn more about the song here.
Badiucao and Gianluca Costantini
The inaugural #ArtistsxArtists installation is a collaborative political cartoon about the Hong Kong protests by Chinese dissident artist Badiucao and Italian political cartoonist Gianluca Costantini. Created in the wake of social upheaval that swept Hong Kong in 2019––and the massive police backlash that followed––the striking work highlights pro-democracy protesters and their struggle to protect free expression. The artwork remains salient as ever: In the time since it was made, a new national security law was introduced into Hong Kong that many fear effectively erases the island's autonomy from China and strips citizens of their democratic freedoms.
Listen to Gianluca discussing the importance of collaboration to advance human rights.