The Art Of Now

Documentary strand looking at contemporary art movements across the globe.

Episodes

EpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
RepeatedComments
A Life In Song2020091020201212 (R4)Singer-songwriter Sean Cooney has written and performed many songs about real people with his award-winning folk band The Young'uns. Tackling such diverse and difficult subjects as religious homophobia, terrorism, the refugee crisis and The Troubles in Northern Ireland, where do the responsibilities of a songwriter lie? And what right do they have to broach such issues? In this programme, Sean discusses his own techniques and for the first time ever, approaches the subject of one of his songs before it is written, to see how that affects the writing process.

With contributions from folk singer Karine Polwart, TEDx speaker Richard Moore and Thalys train attack survivor Mark Moogalian, we hear fascinating insights into the stories behind the songs.

Blinded by a bullet fired by a British soldier as a child, Richard Moore went on not only to forgive, but to meet up with the soldier in later life. Inspired by his story of compassion and forgiveness, Sean contacts Richard to discuss writing a song about his life. Sean takes us through his process for writing the song, his research, his worries over his feelings of "imposter syndrome" and finally we'll hear song itself - and Richard's reaction to listening it for the first time.

Producer: Elizabeth Foster
Technical Production: John Benton

Singer-songwriter Sean Cooney explores the art of writing songs about real people.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

A Mathematician's Guide To Beauty2020021820200226 (R4)What does a mathematician really mean when they describe something as beautiful? Is it the same type of beauty we perceive in art or music or landscapes - and is it something that the average member of the public can grasp?

Mathematician Vicky Neale has felt a deep emotional and aesthetic response to her subject since she was little. Now a Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford University, in this programme she presents her own personal take on what constitutes the idea of the beautiful in mathematics - drawing connections between other fields like art, music, literature and engineering.

Vicky talks to celebrated maths communicator Marcus du Sautoy about the connections between mathematics and literary narrative, and interviews the acclaimed structural engineer Roma Agrawal about how she strives to create beauty when she's engineering skyscrapers, sculptures and bridges.

Meanwhile, pianist Nicholas Ross tells us how composers like Mozart have used mathematical ideas like the Golden Section and Fibonacci Sequence to structure their works. Does it really have an impact on a listener's enjoyment of them?

Historian June Barrow-Green outlines the history of beauty in maths - from the Ancient Greeks, through a Sanskrit treatise on beauty, to the philosophy of GH Hardy whose Mathematician's Apology of 1940 famously said “there is no permanent place in the world for ugly mathematics ?

Vicky also takes a stroll around a wet Blenheim Palace - or at least tries to - with philosopher Angie Hobbs, to explore what mathematicians and artists mean by aesthetic ideas like “elegance ?, “economy ? and “surprise ? - and why they appeal.

Producer: Steven Rajam
A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4

Mathematician Vicky Neale explores the idea of the beautiful in maths.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

Historian June Barrow-Green outlines the history of beauty in maths - from the Ancient Greeks, through a Sanskrit treatise on beauty, to the philosophy of GH Hardy whose Mathematician's Apology of 1940 famously said “there is no permanent place in the world for ugly mathematics”.

Vicky also takes a stroll around a wet Blenheim Palace - or at least tries to - with philosopher Angie Hobbs, to explore what mathematicians and artists mean by aesthetic ideas like “elegance”, “economy” and “surprise” - and why they appeal.

A New School For New Orleans2019030420190806 (R4)Clara Amfo travels to New Orleans to meet the staff and artists from The Embassy, a dynamic, groundbreaking music studio in the 8th and 9th Districts. Based in one of the city's most deprived areas, the studio works with music artists of all kinds to develop creative and professional skills.

Clara discovers an evolving model for musical learning developing in the face of escalating cuts to education, welfare and social investment - in a city still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Katrina 14 years ago. In a place that relies so heavily on its musical history for tourism, is there hope for some of its hardest-hit communities to create a new musical identity?

Initially based solely around music, the team behind The Embassy has since responded to the needs of the community with its 24 Carrot Garden project, and now a new project - The Material Institute - being developed in conjunction with UK-based architecture, art and design collective Assemble.

The Embassy's program director Aimée Toledano balances the challenge of providing meaningful artistic development for those using the Embassy with the much wider obstacles that come with trauma, violence and an uncertain future.

Clara hears the stories of the New Orleans residents finding identity, hope and practical skills from a dynamic approach to creative development and learning.

Produced by Tayo Popoola
A Boom Shakalaka production for BBC Radio 4

Clara Amfo meets the staff and artists at a groundbreaking music studio in New Orleans.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

Afghan Stars - Fighting Back With Music2019050720190511 (R4)For 14 years, the TV talent show 'Afghan Star' has led the way in a resurgence of music in Afghanistan following the years of the Taliban regime. In 1996, music was banned in Afghanistan - even being caught with a cassette was punishable with beatings or imprisonment - and so the pop music industry effectively went into exile into Pakistan, and classical and folk musicians hid their instruments away. The country began to recover following the defeat of the Taliban in 2001 – but Afghanistan is again at a historical crossroads, with peace talks that could result in the Taliban again dominating much of the country.

Sahar Zand travels to Kabul to meet musicians who are on the front line of the continuing struggle for the survival of music in Afghanistan. In the first of two programmes, she visits the finals of 'Afghan Star', meets the competitors, visits musicians who have been targeted by the Taliban, and explores the roots of this struggle for the country's soul. As the struggle for political control of Afghanistan reaches a critical point, music has taken on a symbolic value, as something that powerfully represents the cultural freedom that is at the heart of the current conflict. Every concert is seen as a political statement in this struggle against extremism. The TV programme Afghan Stars, with its mass popular appeal, is at the forefront of this.

Sahar Zand is in Kabul for the finals of the TV talent show Afghan Star.

Sahar Zand is in Kabul for the finals of Afghan Star, a TV talent show that is on the front line of the fight to keep music alive in Afghanistan, following the years of the Taliban regime, when music was banned. In the first of two programmes, she hears from a singer who has been targeted by extremists, meets one of the Taliban's senior figures to explore the reasons behind the cultural conflict, and follows the votes as the TV audience chooses between the two young finalists.

Afghan Star is much like any other TV talent show – except that its context is a war zone. The studios are guarded by bomb-proof gates and snipers, and the participants arrive by armoured vehicle. It is watched by millions throughout the country – and has led the way in a resurgence of music in Afghanistan despite constant threats. Afghan Star also sees its role as promoting the country's own traditional music, as a symbol of Afghan cultural identity. With current peace talks that could result in the Taliban again taking control, Afghan Star is at the forefront of the continuing struggle in Afghanistan.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

Afghan Stars - The Women's Story2019051420190518 (R4)The TV talent show Afghan Star has been running for 14 years, and has never been won by a woman singer. This year one of the two finalists is an 18-year-old girl - if she wins, it will be a historic breakthrough for the country. In the second of two features, Sahar Zand meets finalist Zahra Elham, who has received death threats for singing on the show, and Afghanistan's most famous woman pop star Aryana Sayeed, a judge in the competition, who is constantly accompanied by an armed guard. She also visits the Afghanistan National Institute of Music, which is defying tradition as well as the Taliban in teaching musical instruments to young women.

Afghan Star is much like any other TV talent show – except that its context is a war zone. The studios are guarded by bomb-proof gates and snipers, and the participants arrive by armoured vehicle. It is watched by millions throughout the country – and has led the way in a resurgence of music in Afghanistan despite constant threats. Afghan Star also sees its role as promoting the country's own traditional music, as a symbol of Afghan cultural identity. With current peace talks that could result in the Taliban again taking control, Afghan Star is at the forefront of the continuing struggle in Afghanistan.

The recordings of the Zohra Orchestra and Azada Ensemble were made during their recent tour of the UK - thanks to Cayenna Ponchione-Bailey and sound engineer Nicholas O'Brien.

Sahar Zand is in Kabul to meet women musicians who are defying the Taliban.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

An Orchestra Of The Rainforest2019080120191005 (R4)The destruction of the rain forest has reached a critical stage – so how can the people who live there grab the attention of the world?

One community, the Wauja, who live in the Xingu reservation in Brazil, had a new idea - music.

Two years ago they invited a young UK composer, Nathaniel Mann, to collaborate with their musician, Akari. The hope was that they would eventually perform with the State Orchestra of Mato Grosso, one of the most exciting in Brazil, and also record a CD that might lead to publicity.

We follow Nathaniel as he gets to know Akari - 6 foot tall, powerfully built, and regularly decorated in dramatic body paint. Akari is also familiar with the world outside the indigenous reservation - he has a flat screen TV in his home, and a mobile phone (albeit rarely with any signal). But the music he performs is surrounded by complex traditional rituals. As Mann learns some of the history of the Wauja music, he also learns about a sacred cave, thousands of years old – The Kamkuwaka Cave - which is under threat.

Every year, the young Wauja are taken on a two day journey to visit the cave, where they are taught their creation myth, but the cave now lies outside the protection of the Xingu reservation, where developers are keen to bury it under a road carrying the spoils of Brazil's massive agriculture industry.

Mann alerts Factum Arte in Madrid, who in the past have made 3D scans and replicas of such sites as the Egyptian tombs of Seti I, Thutmose III and Tutankhamen, and so the race to save the cave begins.

Presenter: Nathaniel Mann

Producer: Sara Jane Hall

Photographs by kind permission of Jean Nunes.

About the presenter: Nathaniel Mann has no doubt of the challenges in this project - one of his former roles was as embedded composer at the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford - he is well aware of cultural pitfalls - but this is a wonderful means of accessing a community under threat, and hearing some extraordinary sounds and music. Most recently he received a prestigious grant from the Arts Foundation for young composers, and he has previously appeared on BBC Radio 4 in “A Cape Sound Story”, "Dead Rats and Meat Cleavers" and "The Pigeon Whistles".

With thanks to: Renata Peppl, Irene Guame, Charlie Westgarth, Ferdinand Suamerex Smith, Adam Lowe, British Council Music, PRSF, Factum Foundation, The Arts Foundation. People Palace Projects, Mafalda, Patricia, Aristoteles, Erika, The Wauja Community, the Kuikuro community, the wider Xingu community and Funai.

Music and trouble, in the Brazilian rain forest - a race against time for the Wauja tribe.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

The ever closer encroachment on land inhabited by the indigenous people of Brazil is by now a familiar story. Soya farmers and tree loggers edging closer, road builders tearing up land, gold mines threatening to poison rivers with mercury, with an end in sight - the destruction of the rain forest.
But one community, the Wauja, had a new idea to draw attention to their plight - music.

The Wauja, who live in Xingu in the state of Mate Grosso, Brazil, are desperately trying to attract attention by collaborating with musicians outside of the reservation.

Two years ago they invited a young UK composer Nathaniel Mann, to spend time in their remote village, live alongside them and to record their music. Listening, learning, collaborating and performing with Akari, the principal singer of the Wauja, and his family, Nathaniel helped create a CD that they hoped would lead to publicity, and an eventual collaboration with the State Orchestra of Matto Grosso, one of the most exciting in Brazil.

Travelling to meet the Wauja was an extraordinary experience for Mann - learning songs, witnessing daily rites and dances - and singing with Akari. But then the community told him about something else - a sacred cave, deep in the forest, in which the Wauja's creation myths and stories are preserved - The Kamkuwaka Cave.

Every year, the young people of Wauja would be taken to the cave and taught their story, preserved within the carvings on the cave walls. These engravings are thousands of years old and of sacred importance to all the ingenious communities across the Xingu - ancient symbols triggering knowledge, rites and music.

The cave lies in private hands, outside of the protection of the Xingu reservation, and the Wauja have been embroiled in a 30 year battle to try and protect it from developers - who are keen to bury it beneath a road bridge.

The Wauja fear the destruction of the cave will irrevocable damage links to their own history and culture. So, hearing of a piece of world cultural heritage that should be preserved, Nathaniel alerted Factum Arte in Madrid, who in the past have made 3D scans and replicas of such sites as the Egyptian tombs of Seti I and Tutankhamun. And so the race continues to save the cave before its destruction.

Nathaniel Mann is a talented musician, composer and performer. Most recently he received a prestigious grant from the Arts Foundation for young composers, and he has previously appeared on BBC Radio 4 in “A Cape Sound Story” and "The Pigeon Whistles".

Music and trouble deep in the rain forest - a race against time with the Wauja tribe.

Art Surgery Anxiety2019061020190822 (R4)Can the arts help solve today's burning issues? Perhaps not entirely, but there's no harm in trying.

As the UK's “anxiety economy” continues to grow and we spend more money on supposed stress-relieving services and products – from meditation apps and scented candles to comfort blankets and aromatherapy pendants – Art Surgery asks if we can find the answers we're looking for within the arts.

Music journalist Elizabeth Alker and writer Nikesh Shukla hear from musicians, poets, illustrators and visual artists in a bid to combat personal and societal anxiety.

Artists featured include Erland Cooper, Ellis O'Connor, Nikita Gill, Luke Sital-Singh and Laura Callaghan.

Presenters: Elizabeth Alker and Nikesh Shukla
Producer: Maddie Hickish

A Wisebuddah production for BBC Radio 4

Elizabeth Alker and Nikesh Shukla explore art and anxiety.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

Bangladesh20190919has a flourishing youth activist movement with art taking a central role. Yet the spaces for art making are becoming increasingly restrictive, and many artists avoid controversial subjects for fear of reprisals.

Dibarah Mahboob, a young artist and humanitarian worker from Dhaka, is determined to use her art to create change and empower marginalised groups. Sensing the challenges as well as the potential of entering the art scene at this heightened time, she seeks out other artists to learn from their experiences.

Dibarah meets established experimental artists like Tayeba Begum Lipi and Mahbubur Rhaman, co-founders of Britto Arts Trust, who challenge gender and religious conventions and have always sought to revalidate traditional Bangladeshi culture within their work, counter to popular taste. She also talks to newcomers carving out spaces for disseminating art online and offline, away from the more elite gallery spaces.

Dibarah describes the 2018 student protests against dangerous traffic conditions, which resulted in the deaths of two children and brought Dhaka to a standstill for 9 days, as a catalyst for the art scene. Cartoonist Mahakabbo's striking image of defiant students became a visual frontier for the movement, which was mainly organised via social media. His image went viral.

This is something distinct to Bangladesh's protest environment - with the lack of interest in and frequent prohibition of public art like murals, socially conscious artists reclaim social media as their public domain and space to share protest art. They have a captive audience - the capital, Dhaka, is the city with the second highest number of Facebook users in the world.

Yet the internet is also being strictly policed under a harsh new digital communications law, and members of the public have attacked people who post controversial opinions.

Photographer Shahidul Alam was arrested after he voiced his support for the protests and condemned government corruption in a TV interview. Out on bail and under intense surveillance, Shahidul tells Dibarah, “The only reason I practice art is because it works....Art gets underneath the skin, art, finds cracks. Art has this ability to enter your shadow...I've continued to speak and I'm doing it now. And I will continue to do so.”

This is the second of two programmes, using art as the lens through which to explore key social and political issues in countries around the world.

Presenter: Dibarah Mahboob
Image: Mahakabbo aka Mahatab Rashid
Field Sound Recordist: Susannah Savage
Additional Recording: Shamim Hossain
Executive Producers: Sarah Cuddon, Andrew McGibbon
Producer: Louise Morris

A Curtains For Radio production for BBC Radio 4

Dhaka artist Dibarah Mahboob explores the flourishing activist art of Bangladesh.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

Dibarah describes the 2018 student protests against dangerous traffic conditions, which resulted in the deaths of two children and brought Dhaka to a standstill for 9 days, as a catalyst for the art scene. Cartoonist Mahakabbo's striking image of defiant students became a visual frontier for the movement, which mainly organised via social media. His image went viral.

Legendary photographer Shahidul Alam was arrested after he voiced his support for the protests and condemned government corruption in a TV interview. Out on bail and under intense surveillance, Dibarah managed to arrange an interview with Shahidul who stated, “The only reason I practice art is because it works....Art gets underneath the skin, art, finds cracks. Art has this ability to enter your shadow...I've continued to speak and I'm doing it now. And I will continue to do so.”

Presenter: Dibarah Mahboob
Field Sound Recordist: Susannah Savage
Additional Recording: Shamim Hossain
Executive Producer: Sarah Cuddon
Series Producer: Andrew McGibbon
Producer: Louise Morris

Batter! Batter! Boom!2019080820191202 (R4)How are some of Scotland's diverse communities discovering the joys of sound art? Join the new generation of noise-makers, as they get creative with their sonic environments.

The very idea of sonic art is, for many, a complete turn-off. It can feel exclusive, challenging, and even threatening. Yet in some surprising places, creative noise-making is capturing the imagination.

In Glasgow, audio innovators from a variety of backgrounds are collecting sounds around them, then shaping their recordings into playful, bizarre and beautiful compositions.

What attracts these new noise-makers? How does their work smash sonic stereotypes? And, who's listening?

Radio producer Steve Urquhart spends time with emerging sound recordists – including unaccompanied young asylum seekers exploring their new audio environments, and people with disabilities crafting original work for an experimental art radio station.

“To go into the sound landscapes, there's depth and openness, and valleys…”

“Around Possilpark we found the really cool sounds in puddles, bottles, squeaky doors…”

“Can I make a joyous noise here? That'd be dead good!”

Featuring work created with:
Maryhill Integration Network
New Young Peers Scotland
Project Ability
Radiophrenia
Young People's Futures, Possilpark

Produced and presented by Steve Urquhart
A Boom Shakalaka production for BBC Radio 4

How are some of Scotland's newest noise-makers discovering the joys of sound art?

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

Berlin's Nightlife20200514DJ Emily Dust investigates where policy and parties meet, as clubs and politicians work together to try and save the scene.

Berlin's famed nightlife brought in over €1.5bn to the city's economy in 2018. Its clubbing scene is eclectic; every type of music, running over hours if not days and bringing millions of visitors each year. At reggae club YAAM, general manager Geoffrey Vasseur describes a city at a crossroads; rising rents and gentrification forcing many venues to relocate or close.

Their future could depend on more collaboration and unity with the state, but can counter-culture survive?

In a former power station, Emily meets Dimitri Hegemann, owner of iconic techno club Tresor, and who now hopes to transport the best of Berlin's culture and creativity out into the provinces.

Jimmy Bamba, resident DJ at 80s Berlin hotspot the Dschungel Club, talks to his son, Freak De l'Afrique and RISE DJ and Producer Aziz Sarr, about how the scene has changed over their generations and how the popularity of African music has grown.

Georg Kössler is the Green Party representative for club culture in Berlin's Parliament. Emily learns the challenges he faces convincing his peers and how he finds ways to quantify the cultural as well as economic value of nightclubs. But not everyone wants to take money from the state. Reclaim Club Culture tell Emily why for them, clubs are not just a cultural force, but a political one.

Plus Pamela Schobess, Chair of the Berlin Club Commission, who is lobbying the state to grant clubs the same cultural status as opera houses and Luz Diaz, co-founder of queer femme and non-binary collective Room 4 Resistance, on the importance of experimentation in the club scene.

Presenter: Emily Dust
Producer: Georgia Catt

DJ Emily Dust explores the unusual ways Berlin's clubbing scene is fighting gentrification

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

Black And Creative In Scotland20200512Writer Tomiwa Folorunso explores the experience of being a black female artist in Scotland.

Scotland is a country known across the world for its vibrant arts scene, world famous festivals and renowned institutions. What is it like to move through that world as a black woman, especially now that the coronavirus has thrown the Arts into uncertainty?

Expanding on a piece she wrote for the platform Black Ballad, Tomiwa speaks to women across the country who are making waves in different creative mediums. She discovers what challenges they have faced, how they approach working in a community in the arts and what their hopes are for a world beyond lockdown.

These include the visual artist Sekai Macheche, whose powerful photo series 'Invocation' depicts the artist as the goddess Kali. Other interviewees include the choreographer and performer Mele Broomes, Director of Creative Edinburgh Briana Pegado, actor and musician Patricia Panther and DJ/Rapper/Producer Nova Scotia The Truth.

Producer: Sam Peach

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

Border Wall20181004Donald Trump's pledge to build a "big beautiful wall" along the US-Mexico border has inserted a political urgency into the mainstream art world and made the Latino experience a point of inspiration for many. Seven artists working on either side of the border wall, from the Pacific Ocean in the west to the Gulf of Mexico in the east, describe their work and how recent US immigration policy has helped to shape it. From music, to sculpture, virtual reality and performance art, the Art of Now explores the diverse artistic scene thriving along the 2000 miles border.

Producer: Sarah Shebbeare

Art on the US-Mexico Border

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

Brazilian Art Under Bolsonaro2019091020190914 (R4)What is like to be an artist in a country led by a far right President? Brazilian artists and thinkers explore the cultural life of their country in the era of Bolsonaro.

Voted into office on a wave of support in January 2019, Jair Bolsonaro promised to be tough on crime and end the country's long struggle with government corruption. On his way to power he has offended many with his comments on race, homosexuality and the environment. He has also been critical of government funding for the arts and threatened to increase censorship.

In this edition of Art of Now, artists and thinkers from across the political spectrum discuss what Bolsonaro means for Brazil's cultural world. Wagner Schwartz was attacked for his piece featuring his own naked body, Antonio Neto is an experimental indigenous photographer afraid for his community's future, Fernanda Brenner runs a grass roots exhibition space in Sao Paulo and Roger Moreira is a popular musician and strong supporter of the President.

Producer: Sam Peach
Image Credit: Antonio Vittal Neto

Brazilian artists and thinkers explore cultural life under a far-right president.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

Christchurch2020031520200402 (R4)One year since the Christchurch Mosque attacks, New Zealand's creatives discuss how their work in poetry, music and art can provide relief and healing to a nation in the wake of one of their darkest days.

New Zealand's 2017 Poet Laureate, Selina Tusitala Marsh, reflects on her poem Christchurch Mosque Shootings.

Janneth Gil, a Christchurch-based photographer and fine artist, discusses her project Darkness into Light.

Viv Kepes, a Christchurch-based painter, discusses her painted series - working title Bouquet - as part of the umbrella project Darkness into Light.

Mohamed Hassan, slam poet champion and award-winning journalist, discusses the sketches of a poem written in the months since the attack.

Dr Charles Te Ahukaramū Royal, a New Zealand Māori musician, academic and Māori-music revivalist, discusses his composition, Ra Te Rongo Kino, for kapa haka and orchestra which was composed in response to the Christchurch Mosque shootings. The piece was performed by the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra with Taniwha Ventures on the 29th June 2019 at the Auckland Town Hall.

Producer: Claire Crofton
Executive Producer: Anishka Sharma

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4

Image Credit: Janneth Gil - Widow in prayer - A martyr's absence gives way to his eternal presence. Al Noor Mosque, Christchurch, New Zealand.

Artists reflect on their work after one of New Zealand's darkest days.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

Dr Charles Te Ahukaramū Royal, a New Zealand MĀ?ori musician, academic and MĀ?ori-music revivalist, discusses his composition, Ra Te Rongo Kino, for kapa haka and orchestra which was composed in response to the Christchurch Mosque shootings. The piece was performed by the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra with Taniwha Ventures on the 29th June 2019 at the Auckland Town Hall.

Cymru Rising2019082720190831 (R4)Welsh-language music is breaking out of Wales and hitting the mainstream. Once, singing in Welsh was confined to the Eisteddfod and the folk club but now Welsh-language pop music is hitting a musical high.

Through a variety of genres, Welsh musicians have a new-found confidence and it's paying dividends. In 2019, Welsh-language music has been streamed more than eight million times through online platforms.

Now, DJ Huw Stephens meets some of the people in the eclectic world of Welsh-language pop music to find out what's behind the rise. From artists like Gwenno, who's been making music since the early 2000s, to relatively new acts like Alffa, a band who've achieved unprecedented success online.

Singing in Welsh has entered an exciting new era, but can new artists maintain the momentum?

Producer: Glyn Tansley for BBC Wales

Photo credit: Camera Sioned

DJ Huw Stephens looks at the rise of Welsh-language pop music.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

Dreaming Of Damascus2021030920210519 (R4)When Mohamad Hafez first arrived in Connecticut from Syria, he missed his homeland so much he began constructing extraordinary miniature models of Damascus.

By day he would design glass and steel skyscrapers, by night he recreated the city he loved. The sculptures dripped with nostalgia and were cut through with half forgotten memories.

But as the conflict in Syria took hold ten years ago in 2011, Mohamad's work underwent a transformation. Gone were the pretty bird nests perched on door frames and clothes on washing lines. Now he creates work that is gritty, rusted, lived-in, and partially destroyed. It is this work that has made his name.

Mohamad's works have featured in exhibitions around the States, the Middle East and at the Saatchi Gallery in the UK. Now a respected sculptor, does he still long for his homeland?

Presenter Mitra Kaboli travels to Connecticut to meet Mohamad and finds out about how the Syrian War changed his art, and life.

Producer: Caitlin Smith

One artist's memories of Damascus, captured in minature.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

Mohamad's works have featured in exhibitions around the States, the Middle East and at the Saatchi Gallery in the UK. Now a respected sculptor, is he still dreaming of Damascus?

Producer: Caitlin Smith
Sound Design: Eloise Whitmore

Filth2020012820200201 (R4)In the hands of artists, smog, landfill and sewage become beautiful, witty and challenging statements.

As the scale of pollution intensifies, Emma meets the artists who are finding original and compelling ways to make us understand and feel the crisis of filth.

Zack Denfeld and Cat Kramer harvest air pollution in cities around the world, whipping up egg whites on street corners. They bake them into meringues and hand them out to the public who can't help but react to eating the city's pollutants.

Mexican collective Tres guide Emma through their studio, piled high with collected rubbish: they've filled a gallery with 300,000 stinking cigarette butts, taken over the streets to preserve fossilized chewing gum and crawled for months on Australian beaches filtering through marine plastic.

Nut Brother has courted controversy with his performance of dragging 10,000 bottles of polluted water from Shaanxi to Beijing while John Sabraw wades through Ohio's filthy streams, capturing iron oxide from unsealed mines and turning sludge into glorious paints.

Emma delves through rails of Kasia Molga's costumes which glow red in response to carbon, she listens to an orchestra of Lucy Sabin's breath and takes us down under the River Thames to meet her collaborator Lee Berwick: they're working on an installation about underwater sound pollution, experimenting with sounds in the Greenwich foot tunnel for an installation opening in March.

These provocative and entertaining artists discuss the relationship between art and activism, taking us beyond the facts and figures to face head on and experience the contamination we are inflicting on the planet.

Producer: Sarah Bowen

Emma Critchley meets the artists turning smog, landfill and sewage into challenging art.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

Emma Critchley meets artists who've bake meringues from whipped up smog, waded through mud turning sludge into paint and dragged 10,000 bottles of polluted water to Beijing.

Zack Denfield and Cat Kramer harvest air pollution in cities around the world, whipping up egg whites on street corners. They bake them into meringues and hand them out to the public who can't help but react to eating the city's pollutants.

Emma delves through rails of Kasia Molga's costumes which glow red in response to carbon, she listens to an orchestra of Lucy Sabin's breath and takes us down under the River Thames into her own project, immersing us in the sea's polluted soundscape.

Good Vibrations2020031020200316 (R4)
20210114 (R4)
With an imminent book deadline, a tax return to complete and a hectic family life revolving around two young children, comedian and actor Isy Suttie is feeling stressed. Neither meditation nor massage has helped her relax, so she decides to explore sound therapy. Practitioners believe sound and music can be used to improve our physical and emotional health and wellbeing.

Isy meets Lyz Cooper, principal of the British Academy Of Sound Therapy and experiences treatments involving gongs and Himalayan singing bowls. She also attempts to chill out by listening to“the most relaxing piece of music in the world”. It's a track called Weightless by Manchester band Marconi Union, one of whose members, Richard Talbot, explains why it's so soothing.

Next Isy tries on some wearable tech that pumps vibrations directly into the body. It's called vibroacoustic therapy and she likens it to “having a friendly, vibrating creature on my back.”

But the real mood-lifter is when she sits in as 85-year-old Gina, who has dementia, enjoys some music therapy. What might seem, on the face of it, to be a simple singalong to some old favourites has a remarkable effect on Gina - and on Isy too.

A TBI Media production for BBC Radio 4

Comedian and actor Isy Suttie, seeking relaxation, explores the world of sound therapy.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

Isy meets Lyz Cooper, principal of the British Academy Of Sound Therapy and experiences treatments involving gongs and Himalayan singing bowls. She also attempts to chill out by listening to“the most relaxing piece of music in the world ? It's a track called Weightless by Manchester band Marconi Union, one of whose members, Richard Talbot, explains why it's so soothing.

Next Isy tries on some wearable tech that pumps vibrations directly into the body. It's called vibroacoustic therapy and she likens it to “having a friendly, vibrating creature on my back. ?

Hairy Art2019081320190817 (R4)Whether it is denounced as trivial, celebrated, or declared pornographic and disgusting, the presence of body hair on women always elicits strong reactions. It's a topic that poet and performer Keisha Thompson explored in her one-woman theatre show 'I Wish I Had A Moustache'. In this programme Keisha goes in search of other artists who have examined the complicated issues around women and body hair in their work to ask what art can do to help us come to terms with the feelings of guilt and shame that so many women have internalised around their own body hair?

Along the way Keisha visits the National Portrait Gallery with academic and author of 'The Last Taboo: Women and Body Hair', Karin Lesnik-Oberstein, discovering how body hair is most glaring defined in our visual culture by an absence, and meets artists who are bringing it back into view, Kerry Howley who makes delicate, sculptural hair necklaces, Alix Bizet whose work uses hair to ask questions about identity and representation, and Leena McCall, whose 'Portrait of Mrs Ruby May Standing' proved just how controversial depicting female body hair can be. Finally, Keisha visits the 'Kiss My Genders' exhibition at the Hayward Gallery to find out how art is moving the conversation forward.

Presenter: Keisha Thompson
Producer: Jessica Treen

Can art help us unpack our emotions about body hair? Keisha Thompson investigates.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

Hands2019073020190803 (R4)Our hands are the part of the body that does, that makes, but it is also a part of us that helps us communicate through gesture, signs and writing and the part of us with the most sophisticated sense of touch. Psychotherapist Philippa Perry explores what our hands tell us – through the touch, but also through the calluses and musculature they have taken on through their work. She explores the idea of how we as humans interact with and impact upon those things around us, and how they also impact upon us.

Speaking to a range of artists including blind sculptor David Johnson, violinist Min Kym and poet Justina Kehinde, she tries to understand the physicality of their work and how they connect the mental with the physical. What can our hands tell us about our world and about ourselves?

Presenter: Philippa Perry
Producer: Philippa Geering
An Overtone Production for BBC Radio 4.

Psychotherapist Philippa Perry asks what our hands reveal about ourselves and our world.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

Harlem's New Renaissance2019092620191129 (R4)The Harlem Renaissance was an intellectual, social, and artistic explosion of African-American culture which began in 1919. The great migration brought many people from the Southern States of America north into urban areas where their culture flourished. Harlem became a centre for artistic endeavour, particularly writing and music. Publishers became interested in the work of writers such as Langston Hughes and lots of artists came to prominence. Many of the ideas and also the issues that were explored then are still relevant today.

As a resident of Harlem, Darryl Pinckney, novelist, playwright and essayist has a particular interest in the period. He explores the Harlem Renaissance and its legacy with Kevin Young - director of the Chomburg centre, poet and poetry editor of the New Yorker, Tracy Smith - who has just finished her term as Poet Laureate in the US, Melissa Barton, Curator of American Literature, Drama and Prose Writings at Yale University, Abiodun Oyewole, founder member of The Last Poets and Harlem resident, the artist LaTasha N Nevada Diggs.

Produced by Susan Roberts in Salford.

Harlem's New Renaissance - 100 years of culture in Harlem introduced by Darryl Pinckney.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

Hearing Architecture2020061620200814 (R4)What does it mean to design buildings without sight and could blindness actually make someone a better architect?

Most people are used to experiencing architecture visually, but what happens when we start thinking about other properties of buildings, streets and cities? How do our buildings feel, how do they sound and why does it matter?

Blind architect Chris Downey tells the extraordinary story of his rehabilitation from his total mid career sight loss to an acclaimed practice as a multisensory designer of interiors and urban space.

Visiting buildings including San Francisco's LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, which he both received support from and co-designed after his sight loss, Chris explores his personal design philosophy. In this radically inclusive approach to architecture, sound and touch, air flow and temperature all play their part.

He explains why buildings which empathise with their inhabitants, considerate acoustics and design which reaches out a hand to its users should be the future. He also explores how the principles of Universal Design and the concept of delight can help create buildings and public spaces which can make us all healthier, happier and saner - whether we've found our disability or not.

Recorded on location in the Bay Area, California, we also hear from University of California, Berkley Professor of Architecture Professor Luisa Caldas, Los Angeles based sound artist and sculptor Jacqueline Kiyomi Gordon and Shane Myrbeck, sound artist and acoustician at engineering firm Arup's San Francisco Sound Lab.

Produced by Michael Umney
A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4

The story of blind architect Chris Downey, told in his own words.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

Hostile Design2019090520191126 (R4)Artist and activist Stuart Semple was outraged by his hometown council putting bars on benches to deter the homeless. He investigates the use of hostile design in public spaces.

His campaign against the benches in Bournemouth included getting people to decorate them with knitting, flowers and balloons - and it eventually proved successful as the council removed the bars. But Stuart has found many other designs to deter anti-social behaviour. From bars and spikes to metal stops to deter skateboarders, he asks why our public spaces aren't more welcoming and inclusive.

One of the first benches to deliberately deter anti-social behaviour was the Camden Bench, designed by brothers Dean and Jason Harvey of Factory furniture nearly a decade ago. A greyish-white monolith of concrete, it has nowhere for litter or drug drops. It is also graffiti, skateboarder and crash-resistant and is so uncomfortable that, like many seats in London, it's only designed for a short stay. It met the Camden Council design brief to encourage people to walk to work with rest stops on the way, while deterring loiterers. At first glance, it is more barricade or sculpture than seat.

Stuart asks arts journalist Anny Shaw for a critical assessment. He also seeks the view of art critic and historian Ben Street in the London Borough of Bromley, where there's an even more unlikely type of bench made of black polished granite.

And hostile design is more than just street furniture. Stuart finds out about a high-pitched sound that normally only under-25s can hear, transmitted in public spaces to discourage gangs of youths congregating, as well as bagpipe or classical music played loudly on a loop at railway stations to deter rough sleepers.

Meanwhile, Stuart has been customising his own benches as artworks to be exhibited at his London retrospective. One is white with a neon pink bar, and another covered in cuddly toys. His art is one of his responses to hostile design.

In Denver, he's been part of a "happy city" project, with interventions including an emotional baggage drop at the station, where commuters were able to offload their problems to a complete stranger.

Presenter: Stuart Semple
Producer: Sara Parker
A TBI production for BBC Radio 4

Artist Stuart Semple on unwelcoming street design meant to deter anti-social behaviour.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

28' Arts Features

Innervisions2019120320191215 (R4)Blind musicians have been no strangers to the concert platform and the studio - from St Cecilia herself (patron saint of music) to blues singers Willie McTell and Lemon Jefferson, from Ray Charles to Andrea Bocelli. But how do people who can't see make music in the era of composing and mixing via touch screens?

Trevor Dann meets the multi-ethnic UK-based Inner Vision Orchestra, DJ Monix, award-winning classical and jazz pianist Matthew Whitaker and the blues duo Innervision to hear about the creative brain's remarkable capacity to manage without sight and spatial awareness. Musicians and composers share their experiences and researchers explain the latest advances as listeners are taken on an audio journey into the dark.

DJ Monix, a 37-year-old New Jersey-based techno DJ, producer and podcaster, explains how he fills dance floors from Miami to Ibiza without ever seeing his audience.

Teenage keyboard sensation Matthew Whitaker discusses growing up in the era of touch screen composing and editing,

Innervision, a blues duo, talk about their secret language. Genene (she's black) and Sam (he's white) were born exactly one month apart in the same hospital and lost their vision at birth. They spent the first weeks of their lives together in the same intensive care unit and developed a musical bond which still flourishes.

Baluji Shrivastav OBE, founder of The Inner Vision Orchestra, the UK's only ensemble of visually impaired musicians, explains why the band plays in the dark to help sighted audiences experience the music exactly as the players do.

Dr Michael Proulx, from the Department of Psychology, University of Bath introduces his work on the vOICe sensory substitution device which is "helping the brain to see again".

A Folder & Co production for BBC Radio 4

Visually impaired musicians finding ways to flourish in the age of the touch screen.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

Istanbul's Factory Of Tears2019061820190622 (R4)Writer Isobel Finkel takes us to Istanbul, where art and censorship are never too far apart. The state's attempts to protect citizens from illicit sounds have taken absurd forms over the years, from the banning of all Turkish-language music from the radio in the early 30s to more recent attempts to control and interfere with Arabesk, the kitsch and mournful soundtrack of the 70s and 80s which was excluded from the radio even while it was so popular it made up for three-quarters of the country's record sales.

We travel to the IMC, a vast modernist complex in the heart of Istanbul's old city that once formed a production line for Arabesk; a community unto itself where agents, record producers and record shops all crowded in on top of one another. Musicians seeking to make their name in Turkey of the 70s and 80s would turn up and audition on the steps of the IMC, where they found fame, fortune and official censure.

Isobel interviews producers, fans and stars of the genre to find out what the state was so troubled by - and speaks to a new generation of musicians who are rediscovering and reworking these once-forbidden sounds in today's Istanbul.

Presenter: Isobel Finkel
Producer: David Waters

An SPG production for BBC Radio 4

In Istanbul, Isobel Finkel explores the kitsch, melancholy, forbidden music of Arabesk.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

Jeremy Deller's Peterloo2019081520191013 (R4)For any artist - this is a daunting commission.
Two hundred years ago in Manchester 18 people were killed and hundreds injured in a defining moment for protest and democracy in the UK.
And to mark the anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre, Manchester City Council commissioned Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller to create a £1m pound monument to Manchester's revolutionary consciousness and the power of everyday people in the face of the armed state.
Some of the artist's best known works have been about a moment in time - his commemoration of The Battle of the Somme "We're Here Because We're Here" and The Battle of Orgreave, but here he was tasked with memorialising a defining moment of the past for perhaps another two hundred years.
From first concepts explained in 2018 in the artist's studio to the unveiling of plans before a packed Manchester Central Library, producer Kevin Core talks to the artist about the preparations and planning up to the August 2019 unveiling.
For the artist it's a people-centric piece - a stepped platform designed to "disappear" when covered in a mass of humanity, and one which points the way to contemporary instances of states turning their might on innocent protestors.
As the monument begins to take shape however, disabled activists raise their voices, asking how a work supposedly about participation and protest can be composed of steps which effectively turn them into onlookers.
Recorded over the course of a year, it's an intimate look at an artistic vision - and the moment art collides with the public.

Produced by Kevin Core

An in-depth look at Jeremy Deller's new People's Monument to the Peterloo Massacre.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

For any artist - this is a daunting commission.
Two hundred years ago in Manchester 18 people were killed and 600 injured in a defining moment for protest and democracy in the UK.
And to mark the anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre Manchester City Council commissioned Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller to create a £1m pound monument to Manchester's revolutionary consciousness and the power of everyday people in the face of the armed state.
Some of the artist's best known works have been about a moment in time - his commemoration of The Battle of the Somme "We're Here Because We're Here" and The Battle of Orgreave, but here he was tasked with memorialising a defining moment of the past for perhaps another two hundred years.
From first concepts explained in 2018 in the artist's studio to the unveiling of plans before a packed Manchester Central Library, producer Kevin Core talks to the artist about the preparations and planning up to the August 2019 unveiling.
For the artist it's a people-centric piece - a stepped platform designed to "disappear" when covered in a mass of humanity, and one which points the way to contemporary instances of states turning their might on innocent protestors.
As the monument begins to take shape however, disabled activists raise their voices, asking how a work supposedly about participation and protest can be composed of steps which effectively turn them into onlookers.
Recorded over the course of a year, it's an intimate look at an artistic vision - and the moment art collides with the public.

For any artist - this is a daunting commission.
Two hundred years ago in Manchester 18 people were killed and 600 injured in a defining moment for protest and democracy in the UK.
And to mark the anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre Manchester City Council commissioned Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller to create a £1m pound monument to Manchester's revolutionary consciousness and the power of everyday people in the face of the armed state.
Some of the artist's best known works have been about a moment in time - his commemoration of The Battle of the Somme "We're Here Because We're Here" and The Battle of Orgreave, but here he was tasked with memorialising a defining moment of the past for perhaps another two hundred years.
A Peterloo monument has been the focus of campaigns in the city for decades, and strong opinions abound - as traditionalists call for a figurative work, but as the artists explains, public art requires a certain toughness. There can be only one vision.
From first concepts explained in 2018 in the artist's studio to the unveiling of plans before a packed Manchester Central Library, producer Kevin Core talks to the artist about the preparations and planning up to the August 2019 unveiling.
For the artist it's a people-centric piece - a stepped platform designed to "disappear" when covered in a mass of humanity, and one which points the way to contemporary instances of states turning their might on innocent protestors.
Recorded over the course of a year, it's an intimate look at an artistic vision - and the moment art collides with the public.

Karaoke Rage2019052820190601 (R4)Comedian and music obsessive Gabriel Ebulue investigates a deadly karaoke curse in the Philippines concerning Frank Sinatra's classic My Way.

In recent years, performances of the song in karaoke bars and videoke joints have reportedly caused outbreaks of violence and the murders of multiple people. Local newspapers have dubbed these fatal disputes The My Way Killings, prompting a ban on the song in certain areas.

Is it possible that a song can be cursed and deadly? Why does music evoke such rage and passion? How did karaoke become the national pastime in the Philippines? And why, fifty years after it was written, is My Way still a favourite for powerful world leaders such as Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump?

Gabriel travels to Manila, karaoke capital of the world, as he answers these questions and peeks behind the (final) curtain of karaoke culture.

Contributors incude:
Mama Ai, broadcaster
Paul Anka, singer and songwriter
AJ Lambert, singer and musician
Ted Lerner, travel writer
Red Tani, activist with the Filipino Freethinkers
Professor Roland Tolentino, pop culture academic
Professor Graham Welch, music academic

Produced by Jack Howson
A Boom Shakalaka production for BBC Radio 4

Gabriel Ebulue investigates a deadly karaoke curse concerning Frank Sinatra's My Way.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

Limbo Land20190916The poet Seamus Heaney once memorably referred to Northern Ireland as a limbo land - a territory that has existed on the fault line between two different cultures.

In the face of more than two-and-a-half years of a political vacuum following the collapse of Stormont's power-sharing government, five months since the fatal shooting of writer and journalist Lyra McKee during sectarian riots, and with ongoing Brexit negotiations that put the question of the Irish border firmly back into public scrutiny, some are feeling a sense that Northern Ireland is currently suspended somewhere between the past and the present.

Anna McNamee travels to Belfast and Londonderry to find out how artists like Christopher James Burns and Locky Morris are negotiating the complex relationship between memory, identity and place. The writers at Abridged magazine talk about the way the legacy of the Troubles is impacting on how young creatives define themselves today. At UV Arts, street artists are working to reclaim the walls, hoardings and spaces that have been billboards for political slogans.

Produced by Anna McNamee
A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4

Photo credit:
Christopher James Burns: Limbo Land (exhibition detail).
Image courtesy the MAC, Belfast. Photography by Simon Mills.

Northern Irish artists explore the complex relationship between memory, identity and place

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

Migraine2019062520190629 (R4)Sound artist Alice Trueman writes a specially commissioned musical score to explore migraine attacks and their possible link to creativity.

Attempts to describe migraine have been made in visual arts and literature but here, for the first time, Alice Trueman creates a piece of sonic art - a musical evocation that unlocks the nature of the attack. A migraineur herself, Alice's music underscores the sensory disorientation and sense of altered reality experienced by many sufferers during a migraine, initiating non-sufferers into this other-worldly experience.

Central to the soundscape are the first hand experiences of migraine sufferers celebrated for their creative work, including artist JJ Ignatious Brennan, writer Lydia Ruffles and sculptor David Stephenson. While none welcome the migraine muse, some acknowledge its role in their creativity – a possibility that is explored with expert neurologist and historian of medicine, Dr Mark Weatherall.

Migraines are often described as an "invisible illness", taking place entirely within the sufferer's own private sensory sphere. Art of Now: Migraine brings these experiences out of the sufferer's darkened room and into the open for all to understand.

Musicians:
Jude Rees - Woodwind and Saxophone
Alice Trueman - Violin
Joe Geoghan - Guitar

Composer: Alice Trueman
Producer: Anna Scott-Brown

An Overtone production for BBC Radio 4

Exploring migraine and creativity through a specially commissioned musical score.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

Mixtape For Zimbabwe20200421UK based writer Belinda Zhawi creates a personalised selection of sounds, songs and reflections in dedication to her birth country.

After growing up in Zimbabwe, Belinda settled in London when she was 12. Much of her work as a poet, sound artist and educator explores her experience of shifting perspectives and identities, from rural to urban and between continents and cultures.

Zimbabwe gained independence from the United Kingdom in April 1980. Forty years on, Belinda reflects on the hopes and disappointments which followed for her generation, “Born Free,” into an independent Zimbabwe.

Belinda's Mixtape for Zimbabwe includes the music of Bob Marley, Thomas Mapfumo and Ms Dynamite.

Bird Song (Live at Funkhaus) - Stella Chiweshe

Njema -Winky D

Chitekete - Leonard Dembo

The Folks who Live on the Hill - Maxine Sullivan

Zimbabwe - Oliver Mtkudzi

Zimbabwe - Bob Marley

Dy-Na-Mi-Tee - Miss Dynamite

Sing Along - Crazy Titch

I'll Wait and Pray - John Coltrane

Home is Where the Hatred Is - Gil Scott Heron

Corruption - Thomas Mapfumo

Coming Home (Radio Edit) - Shingai

Kura Uone (Grow Up & you Will See) - Bongo Maffin

Bird Song (Live in Funkhaus) - Stella Chiweshe

Produced by Femi Oriogun-Williams
A Reduced Listening production for BBC Radio 4

Songs and sounds from UK based writer Belinda Zhawi, dedicated to her birth country.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

Zimbabwe gained independence from the United Kingdom in April 1980. Forty years on, Belinda reflects on the hopes and disappointments which followed for her generation, “Born Free, ? into an independent Zimbabwe.

Music Of The Kaka'i2019062020190902 (R4)Farhad al-Kake shares the secret music of his ancient Kurdish religion, which is central to their faith but makes the Kaka'i a target for Islamic extremists in their homeland of Iraq.

Centuries of persecution have made the Kaka'i people of Iraq secretive about their faith. They believe they are the oldest religion in the world, and music is important to their worship. Many of their holy songs are thousands of years old, passed down from generation to generation, and are never played in public. In fact, the music of the Kaka'i has rarely been heard outside their community in Iraq before.

For the first time, in this programme, the Kaka'i share their rich musical heritage – music which some risk their lives to play.

Since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the rise of Islamic extremism that followed, the Kaka'i have faced growing persecution from Muslim militants who believe their peaceful religion to be a false cult. They also believe music is "haram", or forbidden.

What's more, in the Kaka'i religion, men and women are equal, and woman play music alongside men – making them even more of a target.

The Kaka'i are finally revealing their lives to the world in an attempt to thwart the risk of genocide.

Recorded on location in Kurdistan, with religious leader Farhad al-Kake as our guide, we'll hear music from a secret past, and meet the musicians who preserve it, despite the risk to their lives.

Producer: Eve Streeter
A Greenpoint production for BBC Radio 4

Hear the secret, ancient music the Kaka'i people of Iraq risk their lives to play.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

North Korea2020030320200308 (R4)One of the largest art studios in the world is to be found in a most unexpected location. 
Created in 1959 to produce art that revered the totalitarian regime, North Korea's Mansudae Art Studio now employs over 5000 staff, making it one of the biggest art-production sites in the world. 
The studio makes everything from small sketches to monumental statues and murals for public buildings. Its artists are said to be the only ones permitted to portray North Korea's ruling family. 
But propaganda is not its only aim: the studio is also driven by profit. In recent years, monuments and sculptures made by Mansudae artists, have popped up in Africa, Southeast Asia and even Germany. 

Contributors:
Teresa Song, collector of North Korean art
Jean Lee, Director, Hyundai Motor-Korea Foundation Center for Korean History and Public Policy
Nick Bonner, co-founder Koryo Tours
BG Muhn, Professor of painting at Georgetown University
Song Byeok, artist
Onejoon Che, filmmaker and visual artist, responsible for 'Mansudae Master Class' project.
Hamish MacDonald, Associate Fellow at RUSI, the Royal United Services Institute

Photo Credit: Koryo Tours

Producer: Sarah Shebbeare

Step inside North Korea's Art Studio

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

One of the largest art studios in the world is to be found in a most unexpected location. 
Created in 1959 to produce art that revered the totalitarian regime, North Korea's Mansudae Art Studio now employs over 5000 staff, making it one of the biggest art-production sites in the world. 
The studio makes everything from small sketches to monumental statues and murals for public buildings. Its artists are said to be the only ones permitted to portray North Korea's ruling family. 
But propaganda is not its only aim: the studio is also driven by profit. In recent years, monuments and sculptures made by Mansudae artists, have popped up in Africa, Southeast Asia and even Germany. 
Producer: Sarah Shebbeare

Out Of The Wood20200414For fifty years, Italian sculptor Giuseppe Penone has worked with, in, around and through trees.
One of his most staggering techniques involves carefully stripping back the layers of a tree - using its rings as gradients, to reveal the sapling within it.
The tree inside the wood.
His works inspire awe - they are rich with precision, craft and experience of working with such materials.
But they inspire something else too- something primal. They remind us that all those wood surfaces around us, the knots they are flawed with, are memories, scars, of the branches that grew within them.
An internationally recognised artist, with exhibitions from the Guggenheim to our own Yorkshire Sculpture Park – Penone has influenced artists from Martin Creed to Graham Gussen.
Lindsey Chapman is obsessed with nature and how we live with it. It's a subject she has long been interested in learning about - how to be in a forest; how to be in a thicket; how to watch, feel, and relate to the world of plants, trees and animals. She dedicates a lot of her life to wildlife and the environment - through the world of conservation.
Together, Penone and Chapman try and bring to the listener a deeper understanding of the fruits of nature - leaves, trees, branches, all brought to life in dazzling complex ways.
She also visits the British Library to pour over Penone's 50 years of catalogues, and talks to curator of the Hayward Gallery, Ralph Rugoff, as he gets ready to open a new show - Amongst The Trees - where Penone has a number of works displayed.
About art, this is also about nature – at a time when this feels more essential and in need of a radical re-think.
Producer: Sara Jane Hall
Research, location recordings and interview material in Turin gathered by Davide Tosco.

Stripping away trees to reveal the sapling inside \u2013 art that touches nature.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

For fifty years, Italian sculptor Giuseppe Penone has worked with, in, around and through trees.
One of his most staggering techniques involves carefully stripping back the layers of a tree - using its rings as gradients, to reveal the sapling within it.
The tree inside the wood.
His works inspire awe - they are rich with precision, craft and experience of working with such materials.
But they inspire something else too- something primal. They remind us that all those wood surfaces around us, the knots they are flawed with, are memories, scars, of the branches that grew within them.
An internationally recognised artist, with exhibitions from the Guggenheim to our own Yorkshire Sculpture Park – Penone has influenced artists from Martin Creed to Graham Gussen.
Lindsey Chapman is obsessed with nature and how we live with it. It's a subject she has long been interested in learning about - how to be in a forest; how to be in a thicket; how to watch, feel, and relate to the world of plants, trees and animals. She dedicates a lot of her life to wildlife and the environment - through the world of conservation.
Together, Penone and Chapman try and bring to the listener a deeper understanding of the fruits of nature - leaves, trees, branches, all brought to life in dazzling complex ways.
About art, this is also about nature – at a time when this feels more essential and in need of a radical re-think.
Producer: Sara Jane Hall

Playing Well: 1 - Frightened Rabbit2019110520191109 (R4)In the first of the three-part series "Playing Well" Chris Hawkins has an intimate conversation with the band mates of Scott Hutchison, who took his own life in May 2018.

In conversation with Scott's brother Grant, drummer in Frightened Rabbit, and guitarist Andy Monaghan, Chris discovers more about the anxious child who reframed his family nickname as a band name - and how he channeled a rare lyrical talent, determination and energy into the creation of one of Scotland's most important and influential rock bands.

Charting the rise of the band and Scott's intense, occasionally hilarious approach to live performance, Grant frankly addresses the pressures his brother faced - and the structural pressures faced by anyone in the music industry. Charting the exhausting aftermath of suicide, Grant talks about defining Scott as a songwriter, in the hope that the existence of works which appear to presage his death don't create a misleading impression of Scott's life.

It's a moving portrait of a fascinating artist, and an attempt to reclaim Scott's musical legacy from the inaccurate assumption that the combination of musical celebrity and mental illness can only end in tragedy.

Details of organisations offering information and support with mental health are available at bbc.co.uk/actionline, or you can call for free, at any time to hear recorded information on 08000 155 998.

Presented by Chris Hawkins
Produced by Kevin Core

Chris Hawkins examines the life and legacy of Frightened Rabbit's Scott Hutchison

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

Playing Well: 2 - On The Road2019111220191116 (R4)It can be hard to see past the fame when a band's up on stage at a music festival.
But in this, the second part of Playing Well, Chris Hawkins looks beyond the glossy exterior to talk to musicians about how they manage in an industry which demands late nights, exhausting nerves and proximity to substances which are going to make you feel worse in the long run.
From the moshpit at Oxfordshire's Truckfest, he heads out to find the bands living on the road, talks staying fit for fatherhood with Idles, the perils of social media with Wolf Alice's Ellie Rowsell and asks John Grant why some artists use their problems as starting points for creativity.
In his West Kirby studio, Bill Ryder-Jones talks about the episode which saw him leave one of the UK's biggest bands, and eventually address his own mental health in a solo career which draws on his own challenges and anxieties.

Details of organisations offering information and support with mental health are available at bbc.co.uk/actionline, or you can call for free, at any time to hear recorded information on 08000 155 998.

Presented by Chris Hawkins
Produced by Kevin Core

Idles, Wolf Alice, She Drew the Gun and Bill Ryder-Jones talk mental health and music

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

It can be hard to see past the fame when a band's up on stage at a music festival.
But in this, the second part of Playing Well, Chris Hawkins looks beyond the glossy exterior to talk to musicians about how they manage in an industry which demands late nights, exhausting nerves and proximity to substances which are going to make you feel worse in the long run.
From the moshpit at Oxfordshire's truckfest, he heads out to find the bands living on the road, and talks staying fit for fatherhood with Idles, the perils of social media with Wolf Alice's Ellie Rowsell and asks John Grant why some artists use their problems as starting points for creativity.
In his West Kirby studio, Bill Ryder-Jones talks about the episode which saw him leave one of the UK's biggest bands, and eventually address his own mental health in a solo career which draws on his own challenges and anxieties.

Playing Well: 3 Last - Very Loud Science20191119Concluding his three-part investigation into music and mental health, Chris Hawkins meets the scientists measuring exactly what a performer goes through when they step on to the stage in front of a crowd.
Professor Catherine Loveday of the University of Westminster is a specialist in music and the brain, and has used clinical measures to survey people working in the music industry - and it seems that from DJs to solo artists there is something uniquely stressful about performance.
But when do healthy fight or flight responses become a problem?
Professor Mark Wetherell of the University of Northumbria University has measured stress in people from all walks of life, and Marcus Lesycsyznski-hall, lead singer of Pagans SOH offers to take part in an experiment designed by the professor. Tracking his stress hormone cortisol at the moment of performance - the results prompt Marcus to say "Wow."
Bill Ryder-Jones remembers his time in The Coral - and memories which have a little do to with a hormone called oxytocin - and John Grant assures performers that the crutches associated with the music industry, drugs and alcohol, are not the reasons for your creativity.
Professor Loveday also offers a crucial five-point plan for anyone wanting to pursue a career in music and look after their mental health.
Details of organisations offering information and support with mental health are available at bbc.co.uk/actionline, or you can call for free, at any time to hear recorded information on 08000 155 998.

Presented by Chris Hawkins
Produced by Kevin Core

The investigation into music and mental health concludes with a surprising experiment

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

Playing With The Dead2020102720201207 (R4)Jordan Erica Webber explores how video games can let us play with people after their death

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

Art has long promised to transport us, to enable us to step outside ourselves and encounter experiences we never would otherwise. Now Jordan Erica Webber explores a possibility only video games can offer, a way to commune with long-dead friends and relatives, sometimes years after their deaths.

This experience has a familiar ring to it – finding a photo, a video, or a loved one's notes scrawled in the margins of a book – but it's also profoundly different, because in video games you can get to interact with your loved one, to play with their ghost.

Sometimes this is accidental: a deceased parent's data left as a high score, a ghostly shape that races you to the finish line, or Artificial Intelligence storing some part of the person and surprising us with them later. But some game designers have memorialised loved ones in their art intentionally, like Dan Hett, who made a series of microgames about the loss of his brother Martyn in the Manchester Arena bombing, or Ryan and Amy Green who coded their son Joel into a video game character that has already outlived him.

Can you bear to beat the high score and erase that recording forever? And when do the Greens stop playing with Joel? This programme examines profound questions that have been posed in all kinds of art from poetry to sculpture to performance, and asks what it means when the ghosts are interactive.

Producers: Giles Edwards and Patrick Cowling

Puerto Rico2019052120190525 (R4)In September 2017, Puerto Rico was hit by one of the deadliest hurricanes ever recorded. Hurricane Maria battered the Caribbean island with tornado force winds and torrential rain, devastating houses, washing away roads and bringing an infrastructure - already shaky after years of economic crisis - to its knees.

In the wake of the disaster, Puerto Rico's artists were quick to respond.

Anna McNamee meets some of those labelled “la resistencia” (the resistance) - a movement of artists, musicians and other creatives who, in the face of massive migration as a result of economic and environmental crisis, have stayed on the island to rebuild its cultural scene.

Within hours of the storm passing, Tito Matos, a Grammy-nominated plena musician, and Mariana Reyes, a well known cultural promoter, were mobilising their contacts locally and abroad to channel relief efforts, distribute food and organise workshops and acoustic concerts around the island.

After the hurricane, the arts activist Alexis Angel Bousquet needed to convert part of his gallery into a communal bathroom. Now he's back hosting exhibitions where the work is an anarchic and confrontational riposte to what many Puerto Ricans see as the failures of the state.

Out in the streets, a female art collective, Morivivi, are quite literally repainting Puerto Rico - exploring subjects such as gender violence, climate change and the legacy of colonialism in their colourful murals.

In the Puerto Rican Cultural Institute, artists are making new work out of hurricane debris. And in the shadow of one of San Juan's most famous landmarks, one of the island's most artistically renowned sons, Jaime Suarez, gives sculptural proof of Puerto Rico's long legacy of cultural resilience.

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4

The creative response of Puerto Rican artists to Hurricane Maria and economic crisis.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

Race And Fashion2019042320190427 (R4)Deputy Editor of Elle Magazine UK, Kenya Hunt, celebrates the work of black designers in fashion and investigates how the fashion world is grappling with conversations around race.

Kenya meets different generations of black designers, exploring their creative processes and inspirations, alongside the challenges they face in building their careers. She speaks to established innovator and curator Duro Olowu, the London-based Nigerian-Jamaican designer who is one of a few black designers to have achieved luxury level success. He shares insights into his career, how he has changed the way fashion collections are presented and the importance of remembering black British fashion designers.

Kenya also talks to emerging designer and filmmaker Bianca Saunders, whose debut collections have met with international critical acclaim. She discusses the inspirations for her work and the challenges of growing an independent fashion label.

Recent years have seen as increase in representation of black models in fashion, off the runway and away from editorial pages, but there has still been recurring racist imagery from leading global design houses, and few black designers showcase their collections on runways. However, Edward Enninful has set a new tone as Editor of British Vogue, and Virgil Abloh has become the artistic director at Louis Vuitton.

With leading voices from different parts of the industry, including the veteran activist and model Bethann Hardsion, Kenya explores the opportunities for continued change in the sector.

Produced by Tej Adeleye and Paul Smith
A Somethin' Else production for BBC Radio 4

Kenya Hunt celebrates black designers and explores conversations around race in fashion.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

Deputy Editor of Elle Magazine UK, Kenya Hunt, celebrates the work of black designers in fashion and investigates how the fashion world is grappling with conversations around race.

Kenya meets different generations of black designers, exploring their creative processes and inspirations, alongside the challenges they face in building their careers. She speaks to established innovator and curator Duro Olowu, the London-based Nigerian-Jamaican designer who is one of a few black designers to have achieved luxury level success. He shares insights into his career, how he has changed the way fashion collections are presented and the importance of remembering black British fashion designers.
 
Kenya also talks to emerging designer and filmmaker Bianca Saunders, whose debut collections have met with international critical acclaim. She discusses the inspirations for her work and the challenges of growing an independent fashion label.

Raw Meat2020042820200507 (R4)Susan Bright gets bloody and fleshy with sculptors, performance artists and filmmakers who use animal parts as their raw material.

Images of meat in still life paintings have been a staple in art for centuries, but why are artists now incorporating animal flesh, offal and skin into their work. What draws them to this macabre material and what does it enable them to say?

Photographer Pinar Yolacan makes meat dresses for her models, frills from raw chicken, bodices from placenta and sleeves from tripe. Riffling through butchers stocks, she makes the perfect outfit for her models, designing and moulding it to them like a second skin.

In a high-vaulted church, Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva hangs gigantic curtains of white pigs fat that look like long sheets of lace. Walking down through them, they rustle and reek as you feel encased inside an animal's stomach.

Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr sculpt with live tissue making a semi-living leather jacket, growing wings from pigs and hosting a dinner party with lab grown meat. While Marianna Simnett violently slices open a cow's udder reorganising our thinking about the body and gender. And with a cast of 100 performers, Hermann Nitsch's theatrical performances involve climbing inside carcasses, bathing in blood and having sex with offal.

Their work is shocking, disturbing and fun, making us face our responsibility to animals, each other and the planet and giving us a language to talk about the challenges ahead.

We lick our lips and feed on their creativity.

Producer: Sarah Bowen

Susan Bright gets bloody and fleshy with artists who're using body parts as a raw material

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

Susan Bright gets bloody and fleshy with sculptors, performances artists and film-makers who are use animal parts as their raw material.

Recombinant Rhymes And Dna Art2019022520200702 (R4)The successful sequencing of the human genome has not only had huge implications for medicine, bio-technology and the life sciences - but it has also provoked a great and growing reaction among artists and writers.

Anna McNamee meets poets, visual artists and scientists collaborating creatively on the frontiers of DNA science in a genre that Pulitzer Prize nominated author of AI Renaissance Arthur Miller calls Art Sci.

In Melbourne, the bio-animator Drew Berry tells how his dramatic but scientifically exact visualizations of cellular and molecular processes have earned him fans around the world – including the musician Bjork.

The poet Sue Dymoke and the structural biologist Pietro Roversi reveal how their creative partnership has resulted in a three-dimensional, topsy turvy poem called DNA Time that mimics DNA's unique and complex structure.

In his lab, the Canadian experimental poet Christian Bök has successfully encoded his work into the DNA of a bacterium creating what is essentially a living poem.

While at the European Bioinformatics Institute near Cambridge, the artist and filmmaker Charlotte Jarvis and the scientist Dr Nick Goldman have stored music in DNA which they then suspended in a soap solution and used to blow bubbles, quite literally, bathing their audiences in music.

Producer and Presenter: Anna McNamee
A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4

Image: Bjork DNA Replisome, by Drew Berry.

Anna McNamee meets the artists and poets using genetic science to create stunning works.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

Anna McNamee meets the artists and poets collaborating with genetic scientists to create stunning works.

In April 2003, scientists announced they had successfully sequenced the human genome – a discovery that was described as "deciphering the handwriting of God" and has had huge implications on the fields of medicine, bio-technology and the life sciences ever since. But it's also provoked a great and growing reaction among artists and writers.

As researchers learn more about the functions of genes and proteins, we've learned how mind-blowingly complex our internal biological micro-landscapes are and gained new insights into disease. Scientists have devised systems that could enable the entire contents of the British Library to be stored in less DNA than it would take to fill a teaspoon.

Such huge scientific advances have spawned a whole new wave of creative ferment. As poets, musicians, animators and visual artists begin to understand new science and what it tells us about the molecular processes going on inside us, they're adapting tried and tested literary or musical tropes, new biotechnology, and computer graphics.

It's this blossoming new field known as “Art Sci ? that is tackling the age old question of who we are in thrilling new ways.

Recovery20200204A studio in London where survivors of torture are using art to help with their recovery.

Located in Finsbury Park, the charity 'Freedom from Torture' helps survivors of torture rebuild their lives.

On Thursday afternoons the art studio at Freedom from Torture opens to clients undergoing therapy to create art and express themselves.

Ronce was a political prisoner in the Democratic Republic of Congo and fled to the UK. As an asylum seeker in the UK he is unable to work. His art keeps him going.

Neil McCarthy talks to Ronce and other survivors at the art studio to hear how these sessions are helping them leave a traumatic past behind.

Producer Neil McCarthy

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

Rwanda's Returnees2019100320191201 (R4)The arts are flourishing in Rwanda. This richness in theatre, literature, dance, film and photography has been made possible by exiled Rwandan artists who moved back home after the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi. Many of them were born overseas. Their parents fled the start of ethnic violence that began 60 years ago in 1959. They came back to build a new home: both literally and creatively.

Dr Zoe Norridge speaks to returnee artists who grew up in Uganda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Belgium, the UK and France to discover what it was that drew and continues to draw those in the diaspora back. Why did they leave the places where they grew up for a country with such a difficult history? And what contribution have these artists made to rebuilding both the arts and the nation?

Choreographer Wesley Ruzibiza, writer and musician Gaël Faye, theatre director Hope Azeda and actor and artist Natacha Muziramakenga, among others, explain how returnee artists drew on their international upbringing to question what it means to be Rwandan, generate new ideas and rebuild both the arts and their home.

Dr Zoe Norridge is a Senior Lecturer in African and Comparative Literature at King's College London. She recently translated Yolande Mukagasana's survivor testimony Not My Time to Die and is Chair of the Ishami Foundation.

Produced by Philippa Geering
An Overtone production for BBC Radio 4

Artists from Rwanda's diaspora are returning. Dr Zoe Norridge explores why.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

Scandinavia2019091220191026 (R4)rests in many minds as a liberal haven, championing equality and with a generous welfare system. So what do artists have to protest about?

Louise Morris challenges her idealised view of Denmark, Finland and Norway, exploring what lies beneath the region's glossy international image by examining the work of Scandinavia's political artists.

A curtain of reindeer skulls is suspended outside the Norwegian parliament building, swinging macabrely in the breeze. Pile o'Sápmi is the work of indigenous Sámi artist Máret Ánne Sara, a strident artistic protest against the Norwegian government's order to cull her brother's reindeers - something she says violates his human and cultural rights as well as jeopardising his income. Norway's government states that their reindeer reduction policy, culling a percentage of people's herds, is aimed at preventing the overgrazing of the tundra. Yet this policy has come into conflict with the ancestral and indigenous rights of the Sami.

Danish artist Jeanette Ehlers is determined to make history mark the present with her staggering performance art piece Whip It Good which explicitly visualises Denmark's connection to the slave trade - a history Ehlers says is “swept under the carpet” and not taught in schools. Whip It Good's raw physicality and powerfully simple imagery challenges anyone who dares efface colonial history.

Most of the artists in this programme touch on, in some way, the ghosts of injustice past and how that reverberates into the present if it is not acknowledged - offering salient lessons for any region seeking to build a more just future.

Executive Producer: Sarah Cuddon
Written and produced by Louise Morris

A Curtains For Radio production for BBC Radio 4

Louise Morris challenges Scandinavia's idyllic image through its radical artists.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

Sell Out2019090320190929 (R4)Ben Ferguson explores corporate sponsorship in the arts and the murkier area of brand-artist collaboration.

The art world is saturated with corporate money. There are big sponsorship deals, where companies underwrite cultural institutions like the National Portrait Gallery, the British Museum and the Tate in return for cultural prestige and hanging company logos over exhibitions. And alongside this, the half-hidden, lucrative world of artist-brand partnerships or collaborations, where brands are not only underwriting artists' work financially but wrapping themselves around the creative process itself.

Patronage in the arts is nothing new. With years of austerity, public funding suffers and corporate money becomes ever more vital for the art world. But companies and brands have their own agenda, their own interests. What are they getting out of it? How much influence do they have on the work commissioned and shown?

Fossil fuel companies who sponsor the great public galleries, in particular BP, are accused of using their association with the arts to divert public attention away from their environmental record - so-called "art-washing". Meanwhile there is growing unease that brands in general are becoming embedded in the art world, their commercial interests somehow concealed behind the work. Are lines being crossed between art, ethics and commerce and should we be worried?

Journalist Ben Ferguson hears from artists including Nan Goldin, Gary Hume, Anish Kapoor, Antonio Roberts and Unga from the collective Broken Fingaz, as well as critics, activists, educators and cultural platforms. He asks what "selling out" really means in today's art world.

Produced by Simon Hollis
A Brook Lapping production for BBC Radio 4

Image credit: Antonio Roberts

The art world is awash with corporate money and brand partnerships. Should we be worried?

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

Latest in a series of documentaries that explore worldwide cultural issues and trends.

The Algorhythms Of Epilepsy20200121One in a hundred people in the UK have epilepsy - a secret and stigmatised condition.
Acclaimed artist Susan Aldworth has spent much of the past ten years working with neuroscientists and people with epilepsy to find out about the experience within the brain - and give it form outside.
A new technology called opto-genetics, still at an experimental stage, is a form of gene therapy that uses naturally occurring light-sensitive proteins, together with a device implanted in the brain, to monitor and stop some types of epileptic seizures.
As part of the project, scientists have turned to Aldworth to explore some of the personal and ethical issues around this potential treatment, also giving a voice to those who live with the debilitating and often lethal condition.
One hundred people living with epilepsy have written their testimonies, and for the past six months they have been embroidered onto items of Victorian clothing by volunteers from all over the UK. The underwear is then to be attached to a clunky moving pulley system which will move in the patterns of neurons during an epileptic seizure.
The algorithms of an epileptic brain will be fed into a computer programme which will move motors connected to the clothes in random patterns, ending with a fit.
The noisy system of the motors and pulleys will form the soundtrack to the work over which the chilling screeches recorded from a fitting brain will soar.
Aldworth's work is part of a scientific research project called CANDO, and opens at the Hatton Gallery in Newcastle on January 18th 2020 and runs until May.

Producer: Sara Jane Hall
Music by Barney Quinton

www.susanaldworth.com

exhibition link: https://hattongallery.org.uk/fascinating-exhibitions-explore-epilepsy-and-the-science-of-optogenetics

The screech of an owl, the howl of a wolf - the sound of epilepsy in the brain as art.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

28' Arts Features

The Gospel Of Grime20200519Contemporary black music has always had a boundary pushing relationship with black church traditions. From gospel singers like Kirk Franklin, to grime artists like Stormzy; who brought the house down at Glastonbury 2019 with an emotional rendition of his song Blinded By Your Grace. In it, he praises God, saying “Lord, I've been broken / Although I'm not worthy / You fixed me.”

Fans love that musicians like Stormzy portray their real life experiences alongside expressions of their faith. Other people claim genres like grime and drill are incompatible with Christianity.

As the once niche scene for religious ministry within UK rap increasingly reaches the mainstream, music and culture journalist Jesse Bernard traces the relationship between secular music and black churches in the UK.

He looks at how colonialism and slavery shaped the role music plays in black Christian faith communities. And with the help of theologians and musicians, he explores why issues of social justice are frequently left unaddressed within the Church.

Jesse examines how long standing social inequality and the current policy of austerity have impacted both black churches and the music being made by black artists in the UK. And he asks - is it so controversial for our everyday lives and our spiritual lives to be explored, side by side, in popular music?

Produced by Tej Adeleye
A Somethin' Else Production for BBC Radio 4

From gospel to grime, Jesse Bernard explores the role music plays in black churches.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

The Last Exposure20200114Photographer Garry Fabian-Miller has spent much of the last 30 years either in his dark room, or out walking on Dartmoor. That is about to end.

Fabian-Miller began his career in the 1960's but quickly tired of the typical black and white verite' style that was then so much in vogue.

Rejecting both the city streets, black and white film, and eventually the camera itself - his camera-less photography gives his work an utterly unique and other worldly quality - light pulses from deep yellow circles; the flicker of a naked flame peers through a slashed curtain of deep blue. His inspiration the moors he walks twice daily, passing through his eyes, his imagination and onto the photosensitive paper.

The result is a body of work which plays with light and dark, exposure and developing – producing an acclaimed body of work recognised by both buyers and museums as like no other - collectors range from Sir Elton John to the V & A.

But the onslaught of digital has signaled to him that things are changing – both the resources, and the techniques he has developed over time, are threatened, and with the near disappearance of dark rooms, he feels it time to make his last print and close his dark room for ever.

His photographs are unconventional, dazzling, and use techniques honed over decades. He abandoned using cameras long ago, opting instead to use techniques based on early 19th century prints - long exposures, tone, and images funneled into shapes made by the sun. Always dazzlingly coloured, he uses a developing substance which is no longer in production.

Occasionally he gets a phone call from a dealer in London…. “Garry, I've just been offered 11 litres of CibaChrome, you want it?

We join him as he uses up the very last of the chemistry which enable him to use the techniques he has spent a lifetime perfecting, before his dark room is closed forever. Reflecting a change out of his studio and in the world - in 2007 there were 204 professional dark rooms in London, by 2010 there were 8. We hear his story of printing - a physical, technical skill, as well as a dangerous and smelly one. We envisage the end of the analogue era of photography, and celebrate the alchemical eclipse.

Curator of photography from the V&A Martin Barnes salutes his work, and how it harks back to the very start of photography, just as this chapter is coming to an end.

From the spooky mists of Hound Tor to making pictures in the dark, Fabian-Miller takes us one step closer to the end of an era.

Producer: Sara Jane Hall

The end of the dark room - and a glimpse into the colourful world of Garry Fabian-Miller.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

The result is a body of work which plays with light and dark, exposure and developing – producing an acclaimed body of work recognised by both buyers and museums as like no other. Collectors range from Sir Elton John to the V & A , and last year he sold a single photograph for over $25,000.

Occasionally he gets a phone call from a dealer in London…. “Garry, I've just been offered 11 litres of CyberChrome, you want it?

The Return Of Voguing2019041620190715 (R4)Clara Amfo assesses the rise of voguing in the UK, a dance form with its origins among queer, mostly black and Latino people in the Harlem ballroom scene. Voguing is currently having a resurgence in popularity thanks to shows like Pose, Top 40 artists using the dance form in their music videos and live performances, and the current political climate.

Clara seeks out key players from the UK scene past and present, takes a lesson in some of the different vogue styles, and attends a ball where people are pulling incredible shapes, competing, and flaunting their outfits.

She also discovers a highly politicised subculture of deep importance - even a lifeline - to some members of the LGBTQ community.

Contributors include:
Jay Jay Revlon - dancer, activist and event organiser
Les Child - choreographer and founder of the House of Child
Roy Brown (aka Roy INC) - performer and first member of the House of Child
Darren Suarez - artistic director and founder of the House of Suarez
Marc Thompson - social activist and mentor

A Wisebuddah production for BBC Radio 4

Clara Amfo looks at the UK voguing scene, a unique subculture currently in the spotlight.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

Clara Amfo assesses the rise of voguing in the UK. It's a dance form with its origins among queer, mostly black and Latino people in the Harlem ballroom scene, and it's currently having a resurgence in popularity thanks to shows like Pose and artists like Sam Smith.

The Tides Of The Staithe2019121520191221 (R4)Kevin Crossley-Holland reflects on the magic and the menace of the Norfolk tides.

For centuries, North Norfolk lives have been shaped by the daily rhythm of the tides, creating a sense of wonder, as well as tragedy, with many stranded or lost at sea.

The shimmering creek is at low tide at Burnham Overy Staithe, the North Norfolk coastline a mesh of salt marshes, sand dunes, wild sea lavender and shingle ridges. But the whispering of the wind and the cawing of the gulls are deceptively tranquil. In a matter of hours, the furious gushing of the incoming North Sea tide signals the utter transformation of the staithe – and, in its wake, a new menace arrives. The coastline is in a constant state of flux, always shape shifting, beguiling and menacing.

For local fishermen and sailing enthusiasts, the Tide Tables are ignored at their peril; for others the rhythm of the tides provides solace and comfort. And for a local artist, the tides bring back reminders from the past, from the ancient forests of Doggerland.

With thanks to contributors Matt and Sky Falvey, Andy Frary, Mandy Humphries, Polly Ionides, Daniel Loose, Ashmole Ring, Robert Smith and Pat and Mike Thompson.

Written and narrated by Kevin Crossley-Holland
Produced by Sarah Peters
Recorded and mixed by Peregrine Andrews
Extra wildlife recordings provided by Tony Fulford
A Tuning Fork and Open Audio production for BBC Radio 4

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

Written and narrated by Kevin Crossley-Holland
Produced by Sarah Peters
Original music by Iain Chambers
Recorded and mixed by Peregrine Andrews
A Tuning Fork and Open Audio production for BBC Radio 4

The Walking Dance2019121020200104 (R4)A story, told in dance steps, of people with Parkinson's finding balance in the movements and rhythms of the Argentine tango.

Four couples living with Parkinson's disease attend a dance class for people with balance issues. The dance becomes entwined with their stories as they master the basic walking steps of the Argentine tango and work towards a choreographed performance for a group of people newly diagnosed with Parkinson's.

Along the way, they reflect on how dancing is helping them to confront their diagnosis and what it means to them.

Roy Jones has been living with Parkinson's for over twenty years. He and his wife Pat are learning Argentina's ‘walking dance' as a way to counteract the loss of movement associated with the condition.

“If I freeze, I automatically think of a dance step and it kick-starts my brain,” says Roy. “It's like having a tooth missing from a cog. Suddenly you jump that missing tooth, and I'm moving again… I'm dancing… and that's where I want to be.”

Joy Rainbird attends the class every week with her husband John as a way to overcome his rapidly advancing Parkinson's. “It takes me back to when we were confident and I used to trust John to hold me and sway me and lead me...”

Julie Douglas, who partners her mother, finds dancing an escape from the frustration of trying to do things with Parkinson's. Norman Moore and his wife Glynis use the tango steps to overcome the physical “stutter” of his condition.

Produced by Cicely Fell
A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4
[photo credit: Cicely Fell]

Stories of people with Parkinson's finding balance in the steps of the Argentine tango.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

“If I freeze, I automatically think of a dance step and it kick-starts my brain, ? says Roy. “It's like having a tooth missing from a cog. Suddenly you jump that missing tooth, and I'm moving again… I'm dancing… and that's where I want to be. ?

Joy Rainbird attends the class every week with her husband John as a way to overcome his rapidly advancing Parkinson's. “It takes me back to when we were confident and I used to trust John to hold me and sway me and lead me... ?

Julie Douglas, who partners her mother, finds dancing an escape from the frustration of trying to do things with Parkinson's. Norman Moore and his wife Glynis use the tango steps to overcome the physical “stutter ? of his condition.

Documentary in the series exploring worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions

The World In Their Hands2019082920191117 (R4)We hear from one of the world's last remaining globemakers and reflect on the globe's cultural and symbolic currency.

While Google Earth may give us intricate detail of every inch of land, there's nothing like clutching a globe to properly comprehend our place in the world. We've been fascinated by replicating our planet since ancient times; an art and science that's developed as our understanding has evolved.

In this programme, we step into the studio of Bellerby & Co Globemakers, one of the few companies remaining that are making globes by hand today. From their Stoke Newington warehouse, we follow the journey of a globe from design to dispatch. We hear about the challenges they face daily, from retraining their hands to querying geopolitical protocol, and the customers who've commissioned their unique bespoke worlds.

Alongside this creative process, we visit installation artist Luke Jerram, who is touring his replica earth artwork, Gaia. We also hear from writer and cartography enthusiast Simon Garfield and globe conservator Sylvia Sumira to explore the rich history of globemaking as well as some bigger ideas around the influence of those who represent our planet to us. The globe is crucially illustrative of our shared experience. Do we need its symbol today more than ever?

Produced in Cardiff by Amelia Parker

Photo by kind permission of Bellerby & Co Globemakers (credit: Sebastian Boettcher)
Gaia soundtrack courtesy of Luke Jerram and Dan Jones

In a London studio, the ancient craft of globemaking finds a modern spin.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

While Google Earth may give us intricate detail of every inch of land, there's nothing like clutching a globe to properly comprehend our place in the world. We've been fascinated by replicating our planet since before the Renaissance; an art and science that's developed as our understanding has evolved.

In this programme, we step into the studio of Bellerby and Co, one of the few companies remaining that are making globes by hand today. From their Stoke Newington warehouse, we follow the journey of a globe from design to dispatch. We hear about the challenges they face daily, from retraining their hands to querying geopolitical protocol, and the customers who've commissioned their unique bespoke worlds.

Alongside this creative process, we hear from writer and cartography enthusiast Simon Garfield and globe conservator Sylvia Sumira to explore the rich history of globemaking as well as some bigger ideas around the influence of the artists who represent our planet to us. The globe is crucially illustrative of our shared experience. Do we need its symbol today more than ever?

Produced by Amelia Parker for BBC Wales

Tin Roof Symphony2019082020191020 (R4)For hundreds of years the tin roof has been the building material of choice for those in search of shelter from the storm - from Rio to Sydney.

It can last a hundred years or more, gaining patina and rust in equal proportions, but its main beauty is the sound of rain on a tin roof - what could be cosier than sitting under the shelter of a tin roof, rain bucketing down outside?

Tin, coated in zinc, and shaped into a wriggle, is something we take for granted - cheap, effective and long lasting - their smells and spidery corners are reminiscent of childhood; their protective qualities creating monsoon memories; their practicality and longevity a landmark in Wales.

Found right across the globe - the vernacular architecture of nearly every continent - we cross the globe in search of sounds and stories.

Molly Micklethwait invites us to her shed village in a London back garden, where her husband Rufus revisits his childhood under a giant tin roof in Dorset.

Ghanaian poet Nii Ayikwei Parkes, talks us through the inspiration for his ‘Tin Roof' poem - made famous on the London Underground - as the monsoon wind blows rain through his house in Accra.

Sydney, Australia, is where Sherre DeLys seeks out tin in a swiftly gentrifying suburb - where the tin roof has found a renaissance among the most fashionable architects, including Raffaello Rosselli, who won a prize for his stylish corroding 'Tinshed' office block.

Wales is where some of the finest tin sheds can be found in the UK, including, until 2016, the ‘Tin Shed Experience' - at one point the secnd most popular tourist attraction in Wales. Seimon Pugh Jones is now in the throes of recreating this attraction in the town of Kidwelly - renamed the "History Shed Experience". He also pulls a chunk of original Anderson Shelter out of the boot of his car to perform a spot of percussion...

The 1980s “Great Little Tin Sheds of Wales” book and touring exhibition, by photographer Dr Pete Davis, was once misunderstood, and even reviled by the tabloids, but today its enduring popularity reveals a deep nostalgia for the restored and dilapidated buildings found in farmyards and fields, undertakers and cafes right across Wales.

From a forest in the Banda Islands to the capital of Old Goa, a panoply of rain-sounds on tin roofs, which have been gathered from across the world by producer Sara Jane Hall, provide interludes of atmosphere, whilst, under a tin roof in a church in Liberia, a preacher fights with the monsoon to give thanks for rain.

Producer: Sara Jane Hall

"Tin Roof" by Nii Ayikwei Parkes

Music from
It's Gonna Rain - Steve Reich
Doubting Thomas - Richard Dawson (Nothing Important LP)
The Necks - Vertigo
Tin Roof Blues - Louis Armstrong
Radio Rewrite II Slow - Steve Reich

With thanks to Sawchestra and Sarah Angliss on theramin
and Sherre DeLys for Sydney recording.

Also Wes Modes on the Shanty Boat, for rain in Tennessee.
Catch him and Betty Goines here https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09dx2rp
and here https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p05n42q6

Take shelter from the storm, as rain comes down on the humble tin roof.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

Moilly Mickethwait invites us to her shed village in a London back garden, where her husband Rufus revisits his childhood under a giant tin roof in Dorset.

Wales, is where some of the finest tin sheds can be found in the UK, including, until 2016, the ‘Tin Shed Experience' - at one point the 2nd most popular tourist attraction in Wales. Seimon Pugh Jones is now in the throes of recreating this attraction in the town of Kidwelly - renamed the "History Shed Experience". He also pulls a chunk of original Anderson Shelter out of the boot of his car to perform a spot of percussion...

Its Gonna Rain - Steve Reich

Is there any sound as cosy as rain on a tin roof? Or as evocative of summer as the smell of hot corrugated iron?
Tin roofs hold a magic for many - their spidery corners and bare practicality - reminiscent of childhood.
But they are also back in fashion….
'The humble tin shed is an iconic Australian structure' said Australian architect Raffaello Rosselli, after winning a prize for his stylish corroding 'Tinshed' office block in Sydney. "The materials are raw and honest, in the spirit of its industrial economy".
Wallpaper which imitates corrugated iron is a best seller; the ‘Tin Shed Experience' was the 2nd most popular tourist attraction in Wales; the “Great Little Tin Sheds of Wales” exhibition by photographer Pete Davis toured the country for 3 years; and artists and architects alike are rediscovering the joyous textures created by age on a tin roof or wall.
Found right across the globe - the vernacular architecture of nearly every continent, prized for sturdy cheap and practical construction,
Using a recorded archive of rain on tin roofs, from Liberia to West Papua, brought together with musical effect – whether a tin roof church under attack from the monsoon while a preacher shouts within, or an unrelenting downpour on an open porch in a nutmeg plantation – we celebrate the joys of the tin roof, loudly and proudly.
Also, poetically, as Nii Ayikwei Parkes records his famous ‘Tin Roof' poem in Ghana as the monsoon wind blows rain through the windows..
Producer: Sara Jane Hall

Rain on a hot tin roof! Take shelter from the storm, as the humble tin roof is celebrated.

Visual Assault20181011Artist and photographer Zoe Buckman recently installed a giant neon uterus with boxing gloves overlooking Hollywood. It's feminist and it's fierce.

In the wake of a turbulent year for women and women's rights, Zoe sets off to find out how other female artists around the world are reacting and responding to sexual discrimination and violence.

Installation artist Mireille Honein suspended wedding dresses by nooses on Beirut's beachfront to draw attention to a law which allowed rapists to escape punishment if they married their victim.

The Saudi artist Ms Saffaa plasters walls with murals and portraits of Saudi activists in protest at her country's guardianship laws.

In her studio in Brooklyn, Zoe brings together artist and photographer Lorna Simpson, and sculptor Patricia Cronin in a conversation about how far art can go in breaking boundaries, if it can make others listen, and if it can bring about change.

Presenter: Zoe Buckman
Producer: Georgia Catt

Zoe Buckman meets female artists responding to sexual discrimination around the world.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

01Greek Revival20180227Alastair Sooke meets young artists leading a new creative moment in Athens.

As Athens struggles through what's been called a "forever crisis", the critic Alastair Sooke reports on the arts boom in Greece.

Culture is experiencing a moment of richness in debt-stricken Athens. In light of declining state support for the arts, young Athenians are taking matters into their own hands. They're benefitting from the city's cheap rents, generous studio spaces and its new galleries popping up in abandoned spaces.

Alastair explores the city, meeting a generation of artists coming to terms with a new Greece. ATH1281, one of the most prolific street artists in Athens, takes him on a graffiti tour, to explain how his murals provide a cutting commentary on modern Athenian life.

At the 2004 Olympic Park on the outskirts of town, many of the buildings are now derelict. Filmmaker Sofia Exarchou used this village as the setting for her award-winning feature film Park. Her collaborator, the musician The Boy (Alexander Voulgaris) also used the crisis as an artistic catalyst, writing and recording an entire album in one week, in response to the 2015 referendum.

When Documenta, one of the world's most influential art exhibitions, was held in Athens last year, Greece's resurgent arts scene was put on the international map. Alastair meets some of the British artists who have moved to Greece, including digital artist James Bridle and recent graduate Catriona Gallagher. What's it like to be a newcomer in a city brimming with new artist-run spaces? And what do they make of the idea that Athens is the "New Berlin" for the arts?

Produced by Paul Smith
A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

02No Singing, No Movement: Part 120180306Yousra Elbagir explores the musical life of Sudan from the 1960s to the current resurgence

Sudanese journalist Yousra Elbagir investigates the musical life of Sudan, past and present, in light of the changes wrought in the 1980s by Islamic rule. She explores what was lost, the possibilities of musical performance in the capital Khartoum at the moment, and the forces at play in a culture that seems to be opening up again.

Music used to be everywhere in Sudan, especially in Khartoum. As a hub of migration of foreign nationals, colonial officers, West Africans on their way to Mecca, and rural migrants, its music represented a melting pot of all incoming influences. The heyday was between the 1950s and the 70s, when jazz seeped out of the night spots which peppered the streets of the city. Later they throbbed to rock and disco.

During the 70s an all-girl trio called The Nightingales were hugely popular, though their routines and outfits were considered slightly risqué even then by conservatives - they became known as the Sudanese Supremes. And Sharhabeel Ahmed melded rock and roll and jazz influences with Sudanese music, with his wife Zakia playing electric guitar in the band.

But the rise of Islamism produced an assault on popular culture. With the 1983 September Laws the then president Jafer al-Nimeiri declared Sharia Law. With the establishment of an Islamic state after the coup in 1989, a series of public order laws in the early 1990s aimed to eradicate un-Islamic cultural practices. Music was haram: forbidden. What songs there were had to glorify religion and the war in the south; it was forbidden for men and women to dance together. Some singers were detained. Many left the country.

The same government may still be in power but there seems to have been a shift in policy since around 2010. Love songs are permitted again, but dancing on stage remains outlawed in the main. The Nightingales, Al Balabil, have reformed.

Recently there's been a flowering in Sudan: a new wave of young musicians taking up music, after decades of difficulties.

In these two features Yousra, who was born in Khartoum and brought up between Sudan and Britain, looks at what remains of the music scene in Khartoum. Having missed the golden age of Sudanese music by a long way (she is in her twenties), she tries to recover that era by talking to the older generation, those who remember the days when Louis Armstrong and Ray Charles would come to town to perform. She explores the changing atmosphere of the 70s, 80s and early 90s, the restrictions brought in after the coup in 1989, and looks at what music means in a country that has faced famine, civil war and economic and political crisis. And she talks to legendary musician Sharhabeel Ahmed, who managed to stay the course.

In programme 2 Yousra visits a ground-breaking music festival in the northern desert of Sudan, on the banks of the Nile, to meet musicians working in Sudan now. It's a world of grey areas and red lines. She meets the all-female band Salut Yal Bannot, who are pushing at the boundaries and addressing issues facing women in Sudan. But for those trying to incorporate dancing into their performances, like Amjad Shakir, who represented Sudan on The Voice (Arab World), the morality police are waiting at the end of each public performance. Those brought up outside the country who are forging international careers, like Ahmed Gallab (Sinkane) talk about their musical connection to Sudan; electronic musician Sufyvn describes DJing in a city where dancing is still not acceptable. Yousra asks what young creatives are up against in a country where there are still such restrictions, and stigma clings strongly to the profession of musician - especially for women. If things are opening up now: how much, and for whom?

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

03No Singing, No Movement: Part 2, Sudan's New Generation2018031320180317 (R4)Yousra Elbagir and a new wave of Sudanese musicians explore the current cultural climate.

(Programme 2 of 2)

In the second programme in the series, Yousra visits a ground-breaking music festival in the northern desert of Sudan, on the banks of the Nile, to meet musicians working in Sudan now. She meets the all-female band Salut Yal Bannot, who are pushing at the boundaries and addressing issues facing women in Sudan. But for those trying to incorporate dancing into their performances, like Amjad Shakir, who represented Sudan on The Voice (Arab World), the morality police are waiting at the end of each public performance. Those brought up outside the country who are forging international careers, like Ahmed Gallab (Sinkane) talk about their musical connection to Sudan; electronic musician Sufyvn describes DJing in a city where dancing is still not acceptable. Yousra asks what young creatives are up against in a country where stigma clings strongly to the profession of musician - especially for women. If things are opening up now: how much, and for whom?

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

04Dangerous Places20180315Errollyn Wallen meets artists working in places of conflict and danger around the world.

Composer Errollyn Wallen meets some of the artists working in places of conflict, violence and oppression around the world. She hears their personal testimonies and explores why art and music, poetry and drama can sometimes flourish in times and locations of danger and violence.

What use is art in a warzone, and what can these individuals and their work tell artists in more peaceful places about making art that helps us question and communicate?

Cartoonist and free improvisational trumpeter Mazen Kerbaj talks about his work during the 2006 Lebanon war and the problem of exoticising art from warzones. Journalist and poet Bejan Matur describes how living as a Kurd in southeastern Turkey has shaped her work. Actor and educator Ahmed Tobasi explains how Jenin's Freedom Theatre changed his life, and Mustafa Staiti discusses his work as artistic director of the city's new Fragments Theatre. Composer Matti Kovler explores the impact of his experiences in the Israeli Defence Forces during the Second Intifada.

Featuring music from Mazen Kerbaj and Richard Scott, The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians, AWA, Matti Kovler, Rotem Sherman and Suna Alan.

Image courtesy of Mazen Kerbaj.

Producer: Michael Umney
A Resonance production for BBC Radio 4.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

05Return To Catalonia2018031920180524 (R4)A personal, artistic response to the Catalan crisis by Anglo-Spanish artist Sonia Boue.

Anglo-Spanish artist Sonia Boue responds to the Catalan crisis and the Spanish Civil War by retracing her father's exile and exhibiting her work in Spain for the first time.

We chart her journey as she makes her artistic response and navigates her own family history, capturing the processes by which she unravels the complex emotions and memories the unrest in October 2017 revives within her, and exploring her Spanish identity.

In a loving tribute to her father, Sonia retraces his exile in reverse. In 1939, he fled over the Pyrenees to France as Franco's army advanced on Barcelona, never letting go of his grief at being forced from his homeland.

The programme is also a lament for the 500,000 Spaniards who left Spain as the Civil War drew to a close - and indeed for all exiles everywhere, including those like Sonia, for who it is a historical memory passed down to the next generation.

The silencing of Civil War history, first by Franco's dictatorship and then by the "pact of amnesia" which aided the transition to democracy in the 1970s, is a recurrent theme in Sonia's work. She discovers elements of her own history and her father's struggle which are new to her and confronts the very real fears that surface as she prepares to take her artistic practice to Spain for the first time.

It is something she feels she needs to do - and yet she identifies menacing undertows in the recent upheavals in Catalonia that threaten to silence her more than ever before.

An Overtone production for BBC Radio 4.

In a loving tribute to her father, Sonia retraces his exile in reverse. In 1939, he fled over the Pyrennes to France as Franco's army advanced on Barcelona, never letting go of his grief at being forced from his homeland.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

06Band Politics2018032220180701
20181012 (6M)
20180609 (R4)
6 Music's Chris Hawkins investigates a new wave of politically engaged bands.

BBC 6 Music's Chris Hawkins listens to new music every day - and he's noticing a trend.
More and more of the bands he plays on the station are writing about politics. Acts like Nadine Shah, Cabbage, Idles and Life are covering topics as diverse as The NHS, the refugee crisis of 2016, austerity and rail privatisation.
Chris visits the performers to ask them what is fuelling their music, considering whether supposedly radical bands are operating in a form of musical filter bubble - singing radical songs to an audience who already agree with their point of view.
From the blues to grime, music and politics have always been intertwined, but Chris Hawkins provides a snapshot of the topics which are driving a generation of rock bands right now.
Presented by Chris Hawkins
Producer Kevin Core

Music featured:
Nadine Shah: Out the Way. Holiday Destination. Mother Fighter. Jolly Sailor.
Idles: Mother. Divide and Conquer.
Life: In Your Hands. Euromillions.
Cabbage: Tell Me Lies About Manchester. Preach to the Converted.

Chris Hawkins on the new wave of politically engaged bands defining the alternative scene.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

07Guantanamo20180329Exploring an unlikely exhibit of artworks from Guantanamo Bay.

Mansoor Adayfi spent 15 years detained without charge at the American military prison in Guantanamo Bay. Now released, he guides us vividly through an unlikely exhibit of artworks made by former and current Guantanamo war-on-terror detainees.

The exhibit, titled Ode to the Sea, was held at the John Jay College at the City of New York in the autumn of 2017. Shortly after its opening, it became the centre of a debate where issues of artistic expression, ownership, and civil liberties came into collision. In response to the show, the US Department of Defense declared art made by wartime captives to be government property - even threatening to burn Guantanamo cell-block art.

Mansoor takes us behind the headlines and tells the story of his years at Guantanamo through the lens of art - the insight it gives us into the detainees' lives and captivity and their imaginations.

With contributions from Erin Thompson (curator and professor), Alka Pradhan (human rights / national security lawyer), and Gail Rothschild (painter).

Produced by Sarah Geis
A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4
(Images credit: Courtesy of the artist and John Jay College, NYC.).

Produced by Sarah Geis
A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4
(Image: Titanic by Khalid Qasim. Courtesy of the artist and John Jay College, NYC).

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

08The Architecture Of Incarceration2018082320190104 (R4)As Britain opens the latest in a series of large new jails, architect Danna Walker looks at the unique tensions in architecture's relationship with the judicial system - where the go-to design for prisons is 250 years old, and where ideological conflicts between incarceration and rehabilitation dominate.

In the late 18th century, British utilitarian thinker Jeremy Bentham developed the Panopticon - a circular design featuring a central hub from which a single watchman could observe all prisoners without them knowing they were being watched. Bentham described the design as "a mill for grinding rogues honest".

Over the centuries, the standard, go-to design for prisons has been based on Bentham's ideas, apparently unchallenged. Yet report after report damns poorly-designed buildings, inadequate for rehabilitation. Outcomes are concerning - people who have already been through the criminal justice system commit approximately half of all crime, at an estimated cost to the taxpayer of £10-15 billion per year.

A prison transformation programme is underway, with the Ministry of Justice earmarking 10,000 places in old Victorian prisons for replacement with new purpose-built facilities.

New prisons like HMP Berwyn in Wrexham are not places of beauty - they follow the centuries-old blueprint of plain facades, punctuated by tiny windows. Yet the work that takes place inside them is of fundamental importance to the safety of our society.

Visiting London's oldest jail, HMP Brixton, as well as the unusual setting of HMP Styal near Manchester, the programme questions the role of prison, whether it should make people feel happy and whether good design can drive better outcomes.

Producer: Andrew Wilkie
A PRA production for BBC Radio 4.

Britain is opening a series of large new jails, but why is the go-to design 250 years old?

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

09True Jit2018082620190402 (R4)Tayo Popoola looks at the changing face of the Zimbabwean music scene since the fall of Robert Mugabe.

Zimbabwean musicians had been largely silenced by the reign of Mugabe. Internationally renowned performers like Thomas Mapfumo and Lovemore Najaivama were banned by state TV and radio for their socially minded lyrics and their opposition to Government corruption. Night curfews meant that many music venues were forced to close.

Now Mapfumo, known as "the lion of Zimbabwe", has announced his return from exile later this year, and musicians are feeling free to express themselves.

In Bulawayo, musical styles like Sungura and Jit, which placed Zimbabwe at the centre of the African music scene in the 1980s, are being revived. They are irrepressibly upbeat, encapsulate the joyous period immediately after independence, and are playing to new audiences.

Tayo Popoola assesses the mood of the Zimbabwean music scene as it emerges into the light.

Producer: David Prest
A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

How the Zimbabwean music scene is responding to the end of the Mugabe era.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

10Warsaw2018090320190117 (R4)Poland's artists, writers and musicians respond to growing ultra-nationalism.

In the run up to the 2015 presidential elections, Poland's populist Law and Justice party campaigned on a platform of national pride and traditional Catholic values. Since taking control of the government, the party remains popular with many Poles but has also faced accusations of posing a grave risk to democratic values. Recent changes to the country's justice system drew thousands of protestors into the streets and resulted in charges from the EU that the government is attempting to undermine the rule of law by stacking the courts with political loyalists.

Opposition parties and human rights activists have also accused Poland's ruling party of restricting free speech by pushing virtually all critical voices off the state news media and trying to exert political control over the country's arts and cultural institutions.

With regional elections due to take place this autumn and the country remaining deeply split politically, Anna McNamee travels to Warsaw and beyond to find out how Polish artists, writers and musicians have been affected by the rise of ultra-nationalism. Can art change Poland's political future?

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

11Outsiders2018090920190114 (R4)“Art saved my life”, says David Tovey.

He experienced homelessness, homophobia, and despair so deep that he killed himself – twice – before being resuscitated. His ongoing recovery is intertwined with his stunning visual and textile work, which has been showcased at Tate Liverpool, Tate Modern and Gloucester Cathedral.

But will David ever stop being an outsider artist? Does the ex-homeless label hinder him, or does it serve him?

Can anyone declare themselves an artist? David considers the so-called rules as he wonders how open the established art world is to outsiders. He leads an uncompromising – and at times uncomfortable – discussion about activism, criticism, exploitation, entitlement, preconception and power.

Contributors include:
Liv Wynter, artist, activist and writer
Matt Peacock, artistic director, Streetwise Opera
Tony Heaton, artist, sculptor and chair of Shape Arts
The White Pube (Gabrielle de la Puente and Zarina Muhammad), critics and curators
Sir Nicholas Serota, chair of Arts Council England

Producer: Steve Urquhart
A Boom Shakalaka production for BBC Radio 4

Can anyone declare themselves an artist? David Tovey considers the so-called rules.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

12Atmosfears2018091020190122 (R4)Three Japanese poets create new work in a landscape shaped by a dark past.

The world is shaped by the words we give to it. Locations across the globe are coloured by our own thoughts and feelings towards them. We worship and sanctify certain areas while dreading, demonising and recoiling away from others.

In certain places, the layers of words are so close to the surface that we cannot ignore them. They are palpable, alive and tangible.

This is the Atmosfear.

A group of poets have chosen to travel to one of these locations with a tragic history. Here, they try to overcome the negative vibrations that persist by reconnecting with the land underneath.

Poet and translator Jordan Smith travels with Yasuhiro Yotsumoto, Takako Arai and Sayaka Osaki to the Aokigahara forest in Japan.

The Japanese nickname given to it is Jukai - meaning Sea of Trees. It is a site where many people have taken their own lives. Initially, they converse about what this landscape says to each of them individually – but most importantly they discuss the new words, the new meaning and the new story they want to write onto it. They then write original works of poetry and come together to read them to one another.

As a group, they decide what Atmosfear they think should be left behind.

Produced by Anishka Sharma and Barney Savage
A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4

Japanese poets create new work in a location marred by a tragic history.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

13Identity Crisis2018091720190103 (R4)Writer Sohrab Ahmari defends the art world from the threat of identity politics.

The art world is in a crisis, an identity crisis. That's according to writer and art critic Sohrab Ahmari in this impassioned polemic, He argues that contemporary art is being stifled by an obsession with identity politics.

Identity politics in art is certainly nothing new, nor is the criticism of contemporary art. However, Sohrab argues that art's current infatuation with identity politics is going too far.

Whether it's artwork dealing with race relations, sexuality, gender, power or privilege, Sohrab says a desire for political point-scoring in the art world has far-reaching consequences - not only does it affect the quality of the artwork itself, but it also fuels narcissism, social division and political conformity.

Speaking to artist and critic Alexander Adams, Sohrab hears how identity politics drives artists to only create work about their own lived experience and results in a bland wash of politically correct slogans.

So what's driving these artists to pursue identity politics? Sohrab speaks to the current crop of young impassioned artists to find out how and why identity politics features in their work. They suggest that art can and should be a tool for bringing about societal change.

So what's at stake? Central to this programme is Sohrab's concern that identity politics threatens art's traditional search for truth, freedom and beauty. Moreover, in the current climate where activists are calling for certain artworks to be destroyed, he argues that, far from bringing the art-loving public together, identity politics is increasingly dividing us.

A TBI production for BBC Radio 4.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

14Inbox2018092020190105 (R4)From flash fiction to poetry, new music, to soundscapes, The Art of Now: Inbox is a new programme showcasing listeners' creativity. The home made masterpieces are submitted by smartphone and marshaled by comedian and actor Jo Neary. Jo will take us through the strange and wonderful entries, guiding us through the eccentric and varied storytelling...
Along the way you'll hear strange soundscapes, a new voice on the mindfulness scene, recordings of a favourite landscape, poetry which touches on memories of place and an unforgettable Tinder experience.
Submissions are now closed, but keep in touch at theinbox@bbc.co.uk

Contributors:

Annabelle Galea
Michael Spicer
Christopher Sloman
Charmaine Wilkerson
Jez Riley French
Nigel Staley
Ben C Winn
Alison Holder
Coralie Mattys
Fiona Nolan
Rhiannon Walsh
Sookie Jones
Polly Britsch
Kitty Britsch
Pope Lonergan
Jane Postlethwaite
Chris Palmer
Sabine Brix

With music by Scanner

Presented by Jo Neary
Produced by Kev Core

The Inbox is open - a unique platform for the creativity of Radio 4 listeners.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

15The Joy Of Text2018092420190124 (R4)Artist and broadcaster Bob and Roberta Smith, famed for his hand-painted slogans, goes on a personal journey to explore how text and language are used in art.

From monks in Cistercian Abbeys and medieval bureaucrats, to conceptual art subversives challenging who could be considered artists, Bob and Roberta Smith draws on a wide range of traditions. He also re-examines his own formative experiences with the interplay of words, colour and form to bring listeners into the present.

Over the course of the programme, we're led on an emotional trip through a world of cut up Victorian novellas - and we encounter pop-art printing making nuns working at the coal face of the civil rights.

Bob and Roberta Smith meets political cartoonists creating new languages, artists fusing text and images to give voices to the marginalised, and a group of women democratising art through text, images and a Risograph printing machine.

This programme reveals that - away from plays, novels or song lyrics - text and language have been adopted by artists in contrasting and ever-evolving ways, but these all reveal that text is an art form in itself.

Featuring Steve Bell, Janette Parris, Tom Phillips, Donna Steele and Sofia Niazi.

Presenter: Bob and Roberta Smith
Producer: David Waters
A TBI production for BBC Radio 4

Artist Bob and Roberta Smith examines how text and language are used in art.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

16Surveillance20180927Nye Thompson's new installation finds unsecured video streams and interprets them with AI. Inspired by this, she explores the role of the artist in our world of mass surveillance.

Named The Seeker, Nye's latest piece is an autonomous machine that identifies video streams across the globe and describes what it sees. Recently Nye has been using the world's unsecured footage from as material for her art. In doing so she has questioned what it means to have the tools of surveillance in our homes and our pockets.

Today surveillance extends far beyond CCTV. Image recognition enables machines to identify what they see and an even more accurate portrait is available through our data; browsing history, social media posts, message logs and countless other areas. The Edward Snowden leaks brought such techniques into the public eye five years ago. Since then these methods have continued apace with technological advancement, often on the grounds of making our lives simpler and safer.

Alongside the unveiling of her new work, Nye seeks out others across the art world occupied by what surveillance means today and what art can tell us about its practices, its ethical boundaries and its future.

Produced by Sam Peach.

Artist Nye Thompson asks how the creative world is reflecting the state of surveillance.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

17Nick Danziger's Shutter Stories2018100120190129 (R4)Award winning photographer Nick Danziger revisits Armenia to see if a pilot project started by the Red Cross can help thousands of isolated elderly people.

Over the centuries, the former Soviet Republic of Armenia has often been at the centre of many geo-political upheavals - and earlier this year, after weeks of peaceful protests against political corruption and cronyism, it's clear that upheaval still exists today. But as Armenia goes through yet another political transition, it's the elderly who are left struggling to cope.

Nick Danziger is a passionate advocate for human rights and development, documenting the lives of those who are not being reached by development projects and where basic services and essential infrastructure doesn't exist or doesn't work. Armenia is one such place and somewhere Nick has been to many times.

He returns to Armenia to catch up with a pilot project he first became involved with over a year ago. The project was started by the Red Cross in order to try and help the thousands of isolated elderly people who are struggling to survive – coping in temperatures of -30 in the winter and unable to afford food and medicine on their tiny pensions. Often they are living in buildings without heating or running water - the result of a devastating earthquake over 30 years ago - and, because of the collapse of the Soviet Union, the buildings have been left in a state of disrepair.

With young people leaving the country to find work abroad, many elderly people lack the support of children or close family members and are struggling to survive. Is this project managing to make a difference to their lives?

Producer: Angela Hind
A Pier production for BBC Radio 4

Photographer Nick Danziger travels to Armenia, revisiting isolated elderly people.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.

18Women Who Walk2018100820190127 (R4)Have you seen the women who walk?

Actor and comedian Doon Mackichan goes for a wander with just a few of the women using walking as part of their art. What does this apparently simple activity mean for the work they create, for the places they traverse, and for the way we think about cities and bodies, space and power?

From the Romantic Poets to contemporary Psychogeography, art and writing focused on walking has been seen as the preserve of a relatively exclusive and almost entirely male group. But what stories and ideas, experiences and people does this tradition exclude? Doon seeks out some alternative explanations of what it means to move through the world and reflects on the significance and power of an activity as varied as the people who practice it.

In Tolworth, Kingston Upon Thames, Doon meets artist and poet Lucy Furlong and naturalist Alison Fure as they follow in the footsteps of local walker and nature writing icon Richard Jeffries. At Tooting Bec Lido, artist Amy Sharrocks introduces Doon to the pleasures of falling and the significance of urban water. In Manchester, Doon joins Dr Morag Rose and the Loiterers Resistance Movement for one of their monthly drifts across a changing city. And in Paris, Afghan performance artist Kubra Khademi recalls a walk that changed her life.

Also featuring Professor Dee Heddon, Dean of the Scottish Graduate School for Arts & Humanities and the James Arnott Chair in Drama at University of Glasgow, co-founder with Misha Myers of The Walking Library.

Presenter: Doon Mackichan
Producer: Michael Umney

The programme is devised by Dr Jo Norcup and produced in association with Geography Workshop.

A Resonance production for BBC Radio 4

Image: SWIM, Amy Sharrocks (2007) photo by Ruth Corney

Doon Mackichan wanders, falls and loiters with just a few of the women making walking art.

Documentaries exploring the latest worldwide cultural issues, celebrations and rebellions.