Short films, experimental sounds and human rights will take centre stage at this month’s Tse Tse Fly Middle East x Reprieve event at the OSO Arts Centre, Barnes, on April 20.
The eclectic night will feature a series of short films followed by talks and an unlikely combination of folk and experimental musicians.
Tse Tse Fly was originally started in Dubai as a monthly club night by its founder, Simon Coates, as a reaction to the commerciality of the art world of the UAE.
Speaking of the scene in Dubai, Mr Coates said: “Art is seen as more of a commodity as opposed to a cultural touchstone and music is a form of entertainment rather than a cultural device.”
This sentiment is echoed through the events of Tse Tse Fly, which, since relocating to London, has evolved into a registered non-profit experimental arts organisation with the remit of highlighting human rights and freedom of speech issues through art and music.
It subsequently seems apt that they’ve paired with Reprieve, a non-profit organisation that fights for the victims of extreme human rights abuses.
Simon is keen to state that while their events confront difficult issues, they don’t “beat people over the head with it.”
He added: “We’re not ranters or extreme in the way we communicate our feelings. The events are a really good way of gently introducing people to these things and ideas without frightening them off.”
So what can we expect to see from the event itself?
Hosted at the OSO Arts Centre in Barnes, it’ll kick off with a series of experimental short films by film-makers from the Middle East, Africa and the Indian subcontinent, followed by a talk from a Reprieve case-worker and two music acts.
The first act, Catherine Earnshaw & storywheel (aka Keith Clouston) combine what Simon describes as a ‘pure English sound’ and the ‘haunting, melancholy and beautiful’ lute-like instrument of the oud.
They’ll be followed on-stage by Pouya Ehsaei, an Iranian artist who mixes samples of music from Iran and its cities with electronic elements to create an experimental sound, with implicit political undertones seeping through.
The event promises something for electronic music, film and art lovers as well as anyone who’s interested in the topics behind them, and Simon hopes that people can come for one element of the night, and find themselves drawn in by another.
He says: “The real reward for us is when people go away from our events having learnt something or having experienced something that they wouldn’t ordinarily. I’m not going to pretend this is mainstream stuff, because it’s not. It’s challenging and that’s kind of the whole point.
“These are difficult conversations and we frame it an experimental music but it is something that’s supposed to challenge an audience.”
Simon also asserts that if people are interested, they always provide an array of literature to take away as a memory, or to refer to later.
While a bite from a real Tsetse fly sends people into a deadly sleep, this event is guaranteed to do the exact opposite.
Tse Tse Fly Middle East x Reprieve takes place on April 20th at OSO Arts Centre, Barnes, from 8-10pm.
Tickets are £12 / £10 concessions and be bought here: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/event/235172