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The WE-Hope cantastoria

WE-Hope, Juliet Russell, Zach Walker & Birchwood Sings at Frequency Festival 2021. Photo C

© WE-Hope Project

As part of our 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 project.


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. 

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.

© WE-Hope Project

Partners involved

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