Artist and filmmaker Hussina Raja collaborated with women from City Gateway’s Women’s Programmes, to create Bidēśi Mahilā (Travelling Women). The women were interested in exploring what it means to ‘take up space’ in public spaces, whilst building a life in London, and longing for connection to Bangladesh.
Raja worked closely with the women, exchanging stories, sharing ambitions and discovering ways of portraying their authentic voices through film. Bidēśi Mahilā is a celebration of these women, their flair, power, and vibrancy.
Fruits native to Bangladesh make appearances as wily interlopers in the Gallery. Flashes of wide-open space contrast with intimate snapshots of family life, and we hear the group’s reflections on solidarity and sisterhood that grew throughout this project.
The film also features a soundtrack comprising sounds made during breathing and embodiment exercises with the group in a previous phase of the project.
This film is part of Voices That Matter, generously funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation
A film by Hussina Raja
With: Raushan Anwar, Lima Chowdhury, Fatema Begum, Khaleda Begum, Rasheda Begum, Razia Begum, Sabera Begum, Shamsun Hena, Jubeli Khatun, Mashoda Khatun, Sabina Yasmin
Composer: Kate Smith
Editor: Riffy Ahmed
Camera: Ruth Cook
Colourist: Laura Pavone
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Hussina Raja is a British-Kashmiri multidisciplinary artist. Her work explores socio-political issues surrounding notions of identity, heritage, belonging and culture through film, photography, installation, writing and performance.
She is interested in the impact of diaspora migration, identity politics and the emergence of subcultures in shaping politics, popular culture and social constructs to-date. Her artistic process is based on research, experimentation and collaboration with artists across disciplines, and community groups, particularly those marginalised by the mainstream. She often uses her personal experiences and encounters as a starting point for creating work.
Kate Smith is a vocal artist, composer and leader who is passionate about creating music, and facilitating collective music-making, for voices and bodies in motion. With a MMus in Leadership from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, she is the creator of The Embodied Voice, a research, performance, and teaching practice bringing together voice, movement, mindfulness and improvisation. While Kate enjoys a diverse performing career spanning the worlds of classical voice to improvisation, she also facilitates workshops for a range of clients from the BBC to the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra. Kate is creating a name for herself as an emerging composer, creating spell-binding pieces combining voice, electronics, and movement, with commissions from the Whitechapel Gallery, the Eugénio de Almeida Foundation Art and Culture Center in Portugal, and more.
Community Conversations is a series of discussions prompted by networks, collaborations and friendships developed through the Whitechapel Gallery’s Community Programmes.