Name curator:Elizabeth Mizon
Name artist:Shagufta K Iqbal
Title of the work you have chosen:‘Borders’
Year of production:2015
Read the interview with the curator down here:
About the curator
Where do you come from/ where do you live: Bristol
About the film and the filmmakers:
Shagufta K is a Bristol based artist working mostly with spoken word, theatre and film. She has been described as one of the most talked about performers in the region. She has performed at Glastonbury, Plymouth Literature Festival, Bloomsbury Literature Festival, Bristol Poetry Festival, Birmingham MAC and Bristol Old Vic. She has been performing and leading workshops for several years, and has studied English Literature and Creative Studies at Bath Spa University, and has a masters in Gender Studies. She is interested in bringing poetry to a wider audience, particularly through the use of spoken word, and live theatre. Keen to merge activism with art, she is a powerful and brave voice.
What can you tell about this film?
In the 1970s women from the Indian subcontinent who migrated to the UK to join their spouses were routinely subjected to virginity testing examinations.
Initially, the Home Office denied this ever took place, but eventually admitted that this practice had been carried out on a "small" number of women. To verify if they were 'a bonafide, virgin or fiance' and to confirm their immigration status.
The exact number of women who were subjected to this procedure is unknown, however, it is estimated that over 80 women had experienced this invasive examination.
I hope we have created a film that documents migrant history and raises awareness in a sensitive and empathetic way.
How does this film relate to the theme ‘politics and poetry’ in your opinion?
This story was one that has been overlooked by history, yet the political ramifications of this have had a deep impact on the gender equality, immigration rights, and the South Asian community.
Are politics and poetry (or politics and arts) two separate worlds according to you? Why / why not?
Absolutely not. EVERYTHING is political, especially stories, and the way we are told stories. Whether that is history, media narratives, personal stories. They shape the way we see the world, they govern our responses to the world in which we live. Art lays witness to history, helps us to see things in a new light. They are most definitely linked.
There are a lot of political tensions and changes in the world right now. Do you (already) notice any changes in the focus and/or ideas and work of artists because of these developments? Do you have examples?
I think art has always done this, it is not new. There are many amazing artists that are doing precisely this. To name but a few: Warsan Shire, Keith Jarret, Nikesh Shukla, & Zeba Talkani.