Artists from across the world imagine Edinburgh in 2037

Tags: Festivals

Drones, flooding and dystopian rituals: announcing the eight artists selected for Imagine 2037, a British Council project exploring place, migration and the future

Arthurs Seat photo by Manuela CantuView of Arthur's Seat from Edinburgh. Photograph: Manuele Cantù


We're excited to announce the eight artists we will commission to imagine a performance overlooking Edinburgh in 20 years' time, for Imagine 2037.

Imagine 2037 is a festival of imaginary performances created by artists who are migrants. It celebrates the 20th anniversary of the British Council's Edinburgh Showcase by looking to the future and highlighting the founding principles of the Edinburgh Festivals, which are about providing a meeting point for people from different places to understand each other.

We ran an open call and received 100 outstanding applications from artists living in 28 countries from Afghanistan to New Zealand. The selected artists will imagine performances shaped by the future that include drones, flooding and dystopian rituals.


The Imagine 2037 artists are:

Anida Yoeu Ali, born in Cambodia, now Artist-in-Residence at the University of Washington , USA

Anmar Taha, born in Iraq, now founder of the theatre company Iraqi Bodies in Sweden

Brooke Robinson, a playwright from Sydney now based in the UK

Farah Saleh, Palestinian dancer, choreographer, and Associate Artist at Dance Base, Edinburgh

Gaël Le Cornec, a writer, actress and theatre director born in Brazil and based in the UK

J.R. Carpenter, writer and digital artist born in Canada and based in the UK

Joshinder Chagger, a performance artist born in India who has lived in Nigeria, Australia and Pakistan

Maru Rojas, an artist, writer and facilitator born in Mexico and now based in the UK


We've commissioned these artists to write texts that describe an imaginary performance to take place on Arthur's Seat, overlooking Edinburgh, in 20 years' time. Together, their texts will form an imaginary festival. The texts will be published on beautiful cards, each with a bespoke illustration, and distributed at events throughout the Edinburgh Showcase, which takes place on 21–26 August 2017 alongside the Edinburgh Festivals. We'll also share them online.

For the artists this is an opportunity to reach international theatre audiences and a chance to take part in a shared experience with other practitioners who they might otherwise be unable to work with. The imaginary performances are never intended to happen in real life, but to exist in our imaginations through the artists' words.

Arthurs seat photo by Sing yue WuArthur's Seat overlooks Edinburgh. Photograph: Sing-yue Wu

"The idea of an imaginary festival is to create a different kind of space for people"

 "For me the idea of an imaginary festival is to create a different kind of space for people to gather – one not defined or constrained by geography," says Andy Field, Co-Director of Forest Fringe, a consultant and guest curator on this project.

"It is an attempt to imagine ourselves together, to imagine a world in which we might share an experience together, and through that to build new relationships of mutuality and solidarity that can bleed into our unimaginary lives."

Forest Fringe has explored the concept of imaginary festivals for some years, with previous projects including the Glasgow Imaginary Festival in 2016 and Above, a festival of imaginary events for rooftops in London and Tehran with the British Council in 2015.

"Migrant artists have a unique relationship with the world"

"I believe migrant artists have a unique relationship with the world," states Alma Salem, an independent cultural adviser based in Canada and our other guest curator. "In my personal experience as a refugee, nothing is fixed anymore and nothing is stable. I have to rethink the world every morning as a displaced person. I constantly reconsider and re-question issues that before were clear and obvious to me."

A Syrian national, Salem is founder of the contemporary arts platform Syria: Third Space, which showcases work by displaced artists. It's the development of an exhibition she curated while she was working for the British Council in the Middle East and North Africa.

"Artists who are finding themselves in a new culture have a sensitivity to place that stimulates the imagination," Salem adds. "We can learn from their insights into placemaking."


Get involved:


Follow us for updates on where to find Imagine 2037 cards in Edinburgh from 21–26 August

> Sign up to our newsletter to experience the imaginary festival online


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