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13 On Now

Not This Future

1st Mar 31st Mar 2021

How can we begin mourning for inexplicably naturalised death? How can we recognise and lick the wounds when the tragedy is considered conveniently inevitable?

Project Details
  • Care,
  • Collectivity
Creative Team
  • Artist: Youngsook Choi
  • Project Organising and Coordination: Annie Jael Kwan and Cuong Pham
  • Production Design: Moi Tran
  • Filming and Photography: Edgars Aizpurs, Nukapaphoto
  • Production Support: Carl Davies, Cuong Pham and Taey Iohe
  • Site Provision: Raven Row London
  • Conversation Audio Editing: Karolina Skorek

Not This Future facilitates a pseudo shamanic ritual as a political device by holding the grief as a site of solidarity and communal care directed to the victims of hostile environments policy, brutal border control and neo-colonial operation.

It commemorates and critically revisits the Essex 39 incident where thirty-nine Vietnamese were found dead in the back of a lorry abandoned by a people smuggler in 2019. As a core part of the commemoration, this spiritual performance accommodates 39 offerings from different parts of the world, gathered through the exclusive call out for those whose creative practice and research weigh on migrant justice and challenge the idea of borders.

A pair of feet wearing white socks underneath a white gown and trousers. They are standing on wooden floor and behind them a table with a white sheet and candles on top, and lots of green foliage.
On a table with a white cloth on a pair of hands clean a dried fish with a bowl of water and a white cloth. Next to them a large pile of dried fish.
A person wrapped in a white sheet holding on from the inside so we can see the shape of their fist gathering the material. Behind them a table covered in a white sheet has lit pillar candles, candle stands, a large bowl of fruit and foliage arranged like an altar.

Over the period of screening in March 2021, Youngsook hosted three conversations expanding on the themes of the work - ‘Grief, it takes a community’ with Tessa Qui, ‘Grief with strangers’ with Annie Jael Kwan and ‘Prayer from the ancient future’ with Ceara Conway. The series of conversations delved into the role of grief in organising solidarity and collective care, healing through transnational kinship and promiscuous care, and listening and storytelling as a cure. They are edited into a listening package you can access here.

Readings included in the Not This Future listening package:

Supporting resources:

Cruse Bereavement Care

Shout: text 85258 The UK’s first text support for anyone in crisis, anywhere, anytime.

Samaritans: 116123 A safe place for you to talk anytime (24h, free).


Vietnamese Mental Health Services 020 7234 0601

Offerings contributed by:

Adriel Luis, curator and activist

Amal Khalaf, curator and artist @amalandaplan

Amit Rai, educator and activist

Annie Jael Kwan, curator @alikati

Anouar Kassim, community organiser @wearemkiac

Ayelet Zohar, artist and art historian

Bao Vuong, artist @baobaoartworks

Burong Zang, artist and researcher @burongz

Caro Gervay, artist @carogervay

Cecilia Wee, curator and cultural agitator @cecilialmwee

Cian Dayrit, artist and activist

Cuóng Pham, curator and activist @phambinho

David Sebastian Lopez Restrepo, artist

Erene Kaptani, theatre practitioner and researcher @erenekaptani

Farzana Khan, artist and community healer @healingjusticeldn

Georgina Quach, journalist and archivist

Hai Nguyen, researcher

Hina Khan, artist

Hsiao Hung Pai, writer and journalist

Ibrahim Abdella, refugee

Ido Zohar, musician

Jabez Lam, community organiser and activist @hackneychinese

Joon Lynn Goh, cultural organiser and producer @joonlynngoh

June Lam, artist and activist @assignedfagatbirth

Kay Stephens, writer and activist @remember.resist

Mariko Hayashi, community organiser and researcher

Mihye Lee, artist and chef

Nia Fekri, artist and writer @nia.fekri

Nine Yamamoto-Masson, artist and researcher

Rajinder Singh, artist and researcher @woundbloom

Richard Streitmatter-Tran, artist and researcher

Sajan Mani, artist @sajan_mani

Sarnt Utamachote, film maker @unthaitled

Shzr Ee Tan, ethnomusicologist and musician

Subhas Nair, musician and activist

Sungmee Bae, artist

Taey Iohe, artist @taeyiohe

Tamsin Barber, sociologist

Tomasz Madajczak, artist

Vanessa Scully, artist

Vijay Patel, artist @portomeerkat

Vukasin Nedeljkovic, artist and activist

Weng San Sit, artist

Yoonah Han, film producer

Not This Future was commissioned by Asia-Art-Activism, supported by Bagri Foundation, Arts Council England and Heart of Glass. It was first exhibited in the online group show Till We Meet Agin IRL (2020, Bagri Foundation).

Youngsook Choi