Last week I went with Chris to a truly wonderful event at the Royal Festival Hall. EAR Presents – the Southbank Centre’s Emerging Artists in Residence – was a group which came out of the Aftershock London project earlier in the year, directed by Nitin Sawhney. I actually didn’t go because of his connection, it was actually because of Riz MC.
Riz Ahmed was recently seen as Sohail, the ‘good’ brother in apposition to the ‘bad’ sister in C4’s ‘Britz’ and was the man responsible for ‘Post 9/11 Blues’ – a cute, semi-Britpoppy, rap satire of the War on Terror and the reduction in civil liberties which have followed. The more I read about him, in particular about his arrest after the Berlin Film Festival, the more interested I became in him. I went to get photos, which I’d still like – he holds massive promise as a major pop culture figure – but I drawn instead into a display of public art, the likes of which you simply don’t get in London anymore.
In a city which prides itself on privatising public space (Canary Wharf anyone?), the EAR Presents event with people such as Nathan ‘Flutebox’ Lee, Catherine Anne Davies and Nila Raja, was completely free. You could walk in and out, chat with the artists as they mingled with the audience, and get to partake of very different music styles to what you might be accustomed to, being toyed with both very entertaining and experimental ways. Although I stood right next to Ahmed, I instead left him and his hugely exciting colleagues entirely alone, enjoying instead an urban experience which most of us never get to enjoy. It was relaxing, exciting and was a real exploration of the new. The next one’s on the 26th January – I couldn’t recommend it more on the strength of this night.