Between July and November 2021, one of the most ambitious public art projects is coming to life in the body of Little Amal, a 3.5-metre puppet representing a fictitious nine-year-old Syrian girl. During The Walk, as the four-month long event (July 27 – Nov. 3) is titled, Little Amal will travel from the Turkish-Syrian border in Gaziantep to Manchester, UK, to highlight the refugee crisis. She is searching for her mother and trying to raise funds for refugees in Europe. She would also like to get back to school. The journey will take her through Turkey, Greece, Italy, France, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium and finally, the UK.
It has been called “a travelling festival of art and hope” in support of refugees and brings together celebrated artists, major cultural institutions, faith leaders, schools, community groups and humanitarian organisations. New artist commissions and events have been announced across 8,000km route, involving over 250 partners and artists. Partners include Manchester International Festival, National Theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe, Royal Opera House, Roundhouse, İstanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts, İzmir International Puppet Days, The Biennale of Western Balkans — BoWB, UNIMA Greece, Piraeus Municipal Theatre, Piccolo Teatro di Milano, Teatro di Roma, MAXXI Museo, Institut du Monde Arabe, La Villette, La Criée Théâtre National de Marseille, BOZAR Centre for Fine Arts, Théâtre National Wallonie-Bruxelles, La Monnaie, Grand Théâtre de Genève, Schlachthaus Theater Bern, Ruhrfestspiele Recklinghausen and Sommerblut Festival Cologne.
Audiences can follow Little Amal’s journey online as well as attend local events. In each village, town or city she visits, she will be welcomed by major new arts commissions, city-wide community performances and intimate events. Little Amal’s journey begins in Gaziantep with an outdoor light installation of Qanadil lanterns. Slowly, one lantern at a time, the city will become illuminated, revealing a path of light for her to follow. In Cesme (western Turkey), she will follow a path of empty shoes that leads her to the beach. The art installation — created by K2 Contemporary Art Centre — represents the many thousands of people that have lost their lives on the perilous sea crossing.
In Ioannina (Greece), partners from Greece and beyond will come together to bridge the seven kilometres gap between the buzzing city centre of Ioannina and the Katsikas refugee camp, with an outdoor installation of lights and words. Alone in Athens, Little Amal becomes afraid of losing her way. She ties a thread of bright red yarn to a lamp post and leaves a trail as she walks through the city. Coming face to face with a minotaur puppet created by UNIMA-HELLAS, she has to decide whether she will face her fear and befriend the beast. In Bari (Italy), Little Amal is greeted by a large puppet of an Italian Nonna (grandmother), who shares some wisdom on how to overcome the obstacles she might face on the rest of her journey…
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