crowd watching swirling visuals on a digital screen outside

05 Apr 2022

WE-Hope Cantastoria

WE-Hope (2019-2022), is inspired by the first-hand histories of those experiencing, living, and navigating migration and separation. Finding humanity in stories of survival, repeated through the ages on a global scale, WE-Hope promotes multiculturalism through sharing experiences of surviving crises across generations.

Out of crisis experiences, hope for the future.

As part of the WE-Hope project and supported by Digital Democracies, Threshold Studios commissioned artists to work with living testimonies from survivors of conflict, migration and trauma, collected through testimony and interviews conducted by partners of the WE-Hope project.

“The motivation of WE-Hope is to promote multiculturalism through sharing experiences of surviving crisis across generations, thus bringing ‘old’ Europe and ‘new’ Europe closer together in a common framework of hope for the future.” 

Crowd outside on a square watching WE-Hope live performance and a large digital screen. On the screen is an image of eyes in black and white and distorted visuals.
WE-Hope, Juliet Russel and Zach Walker at Frequency Festival 2021. Photo courtesy of Threshold Studios.

The project combines historic and contemporary accounts of these stories into a living respository. The installation and performance created as part of the project updates the ancient visual storytelling notion of the Cantastoria – that used pictures and songs to tell stories in public space.  Through digital interaction, vocal performance and engagement in public space the artwork aims to create empathetic responses in audiences, enabling us to understand our differences and our similarities through a shared intersection. 

The video imagery was gathered through engagement with a film-maker in Hull who had experienced the trauma of enforced migration, and his collation of imagery of the eyes of the families and communities around us connect audiences to the notion that even though we may speak different languages, we can connect through the physicality and honesty of shared trauma when we stand face to face as humans.  

Silohette of a person conducting a choir standing in front of a large digital screen displaying distorted visual imagery as part of WE-Hope presentation at Frequency Festival 2021.
WE-Hope, Juliet Russel and Zach Walker at Frequency Festival 2021. Photo credit Electric Egg.

Award-winning artist collective Make Amplify (Zach Walker) and musician, vocalist, and composer Juliet Russell, collaborated to update the ancient artform using digital augmentation and a live choir performance.

At the premiere performance on the opening night of Frequency Festival 2021, Zach Walker and Juliet Russell were joined by members of place-based choirs, Birchwood Sings and Nettleham Choir.

“Not a dry eye in the square. Gut punchingly beautiful.”

 – Frequency International Festival of Digital Culture 2021 visitor.

The artists produced a powerful tribute to those whose lives have been shattered by war, in Europe and beyond, and have rebuilt families and communities in Europe. The piece celebrates resilience through beautiful and poignant live visuals and choral performance.

Watch the full premiere performance at Frequency Festival 2021:

In the face of the current situation in Ukraine, WE-Hope released a statement, reaffirming the values that WE-Hope embodies; openness and welcome.

We at Threshold Studios #StandWithUkraine. As proud partners of WE-Hope project we share their statement of solidarity and support for Ukraine. Read the WE-Hope blog post here.

WE-Hope (2019-2022) is a partnership project co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union, that addresses the challenges of social cohesion across Europe. The partnership consists of two higher education institutions (University of Lincoln (UK), National Technical University of Athens (Greece)), three cultural associations (Memoro (Italy), Greek Bank of Memories (Greece), Michael Culture AISBL (Belguim)) and creative and cultural agency, Threshold Studios (UK).

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