• Together we fled a realm
    Gouled Ahmed & Asmaa Jama

Gouled Ahmed and Asmaa Jama, "The Season of Burning Things," 2021. Film still. Courtesy the artists

The project seeks to explore the idea of movement—of migration through porous borders between countries, but also between realms. The piece looks at river courses and oceanic routes as sites of cultural exchange. It looks at the terrain on which oral history traditions have been disseminated. The artists are informed, by their own heritage, as Somalis, in a diaspora. The project investigates alternate, equitable futures for the Horn of Africa, and ways of tracking and tracing the lineages of displacement. Originating from a place divided into five territories, and being from a people, fragmented across the world. The creators intrigued by the concept of the supernatural and use it as a metaphor to explore the tensions present in our everyday realities. Finally, the project asks what it means to be liminal, to exist at the margins of the world and in investigates these spaces and siting alternate worlds.

Gouled Ahmed, as costume designer and codirector, explores themes of memory, belonging and futurity using self-portraiture and self-fashioning as a tool to challenge traumatic histories. Ahmed’s work interrogates how structures of power have created meaning in the way the “other” is seen and understood in the Horn of Africa. Ahmed’s work has been featured in several solo and group exhibitions internationally, including Africa Fashion, Victoria V&A, London (2022); Alliance Ethio-Francaise, Addis Ababa (2021); Beursschouwburg, Brussels (2021); Northstar Church of the Arts, Durham (2019); ZOMA Museum, Addis Ababa (2018); Guramayle Art Center, Addis Ababa (2018); and Asni Art Gallery, Addis Ababa (2018). Ahmed graduated with a degree in history from Bard College, New York and received the Prince Claud Fund’s Seed Awards (2022) and the African Cultural Fund’s Visual Arts Grant, Bamako, Mali (2020). Ahmed, is an artist-in-residence, at Black Rock Senegal (2022). Together, Jama and Ahmed, were awarded Sharjah Art Foundation’s Production Grant (2023).

As a writer and codirector, Asmaa Jama works between languages to explore concepts of migration and transience through approaches of archiving and materializing memory. Jama was commended for the Brunel African Poetry Prize (2022); and shortlisted for the New Poets Prize (2022); Queen Mary Wasafiri Writing Prize (2021); James Berry Poetry Prize (2021); To Speak Europe in Other Languages prize (2020); and longlisted for National Poetry Competition ( 2021 ); and is a Cave Canem Fellow. Their first collaboration began with Before We Disappear (2021), an interactive moving image piece commissioned by BBC Art, followed by The Season of Burning Things (2021), commissioned by the Bristol Old Vic, and Except this time nothing returns from the ashes (2022), commissioned by Spike Island. Their work has also been presented at the Venice Architecture Biennale in collaboration with the Goethe Institute and Theatre Neumarkt’s 100 Ways to Say We Programme (2021).