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Artists take risks for all of us. Explore a global network that’s ready to help.

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Creating Artistic Resilience: Voices of Asia

PEN America's Artists at Risk Connection (ARC), in collaboration with the Mekong Cultural Hub (MCH) and the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), is pleased to present our limited-run podcast on artistic freedom in Asia. Throughout this series, we speak with artists and cultural rights defenders in Southeast, East, and South Asia about their experiences engaging with art, expression, censorship, and artistic freedom in their countries. Shared in the spirit of solidarity, the podcast series expands on the findings and recommendations from the publication Arresting Art: Repression, Censorship, and Artistic Freedom in Asia.

Each of these conversations, hosted by ARC's Asia Regional Representative, Manojna Yeluri, with artists and cultural rights defenders in the region provide an invaluable glimpse into the personal and collective challenges currently faced by the creative community in Asia. Creating Artistic Resilience: Voices of Asia provides insights and tools to the artistic community at large, while also serving as a powerful reminder that artists at risk are not alone.

Creating Artistic Resilience: Voices of Asia features music from "Antibodies" by Mai Khôi and Hamed Sinno.

Episode 1: The Spring Revolution – Myanmar from an artist’s perspective

Spring, a multimedia artist and activist from Myanmar, describes her daily life amidst the ongoing protests unfolding in the country. She draws attention to the ways in which the military coup of February 2021 poses severe security risks and impacts the future of citizens, human rights defenders, and the artistic community at large in Myanmar.

Episode 2: Hong Kong’s Cultural Fireman – Kacey Wong on art as resistance

Kacey Wong, an award-winning artist and activist, explains the significance of art in Hong Kong’s political protests and provides a glimpse into the far-reaching impact of the National Security Law on both free expression and artistic freedom.

Episode 3: Visual Disobedience – Fahmi Reza on political art and censorship in Malaysia

Fahmi Reza, a Malaysian graphic artist and political activist, dives into his decades of engagement in the country’s political art movement. Sharing his experiences with social media censorship and run-ins with local authorities, Fahmi breaks down the connection between the country’s socioeconomic and political narratives, against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Episode 4: Bridging Art and Activism – Philippine-based collective DAKILA

Leni Velasco and Andrei Venal, members of the Philippine-based art collective DAKILA and the Active Vista Centre, share their insights on censorship, red-tagging, and digital activism in the Philippines. The duo also discusses the significance of art-based human rights interventions in the sociopolitical narrative of their country and the role of art in catalyzing change in civil society.

Episode 5: Diaspora Activism – Sofia Karim on artists and human rights defenders in Bangladesh and India

UK-based Bangladeshi artist and activist Sofia Karim shares her thoughts on how art helps articulate dissent in South Asia. Karim discusses the current challenges facing the creative community in the region, such as the effect of laws such as the Digital Security Act in Bangladesh, and the impact that diaspora and international solidarity can have on social justice movements in India and Bangladesh.

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