Between Afghanistan and Singapore, 2021

Yesterday was the Afghanistan withdrawal deadline. The Americans have left the country. All other foreign country troops left over the weekend or on Friday. For many Afghans, this would mean the loss of a precious route out.

Between Afghanistan and Singapore, 2021, Fié Neo
Limits, 2021, Fié Neo

The Taliban is still hunting down journalists, activists, former local staff and their families. Some have already been killed over the past weeks. People want to leave and live.

This painting sums up how I’ve been feeling over the past weeks – trying to help some families there while physically being in a country of privilege and comfort. Life went on as per normal here, the news of Afghanistan just a tragedy worthy of maybe five minutes of attention for many people here. Over there it’s life and death, trauma and fear.

My midnights spent researching and writing emails to embassies received no response. Over there, it’s a privilege to have a passport, to be educated, to understand a different language, to have worked for international organisations. Many people don’t have that privilege and without that, not even a shot at making it to the evacuation list.

As of now, if you are on the Taliban’s black list, there’s no legal way out. In fact, for most Afghans there’s no way out that’s not dangerous or life threatening.

I’m writing this so that the Afghans left behind will not be forgotten. I’m writing this so that more of us will care enough to try and do something or influence our governments. I’m writing this so that precious lives won’t be forgotten and swept away as just another tragedy we cannot do anything about so we pretend nothing happened.

I went on a dating app to find out what’s stopping us from systems change.

Systems change

Those who know me will know that I’m a very curious person. I love hearing people’s stories. I’m an artist and my art is essentially one big inquiry of humanity.

My work intersects art, social change and conversations. I’m currently trying to understand the inertia to systems change by listening to people and hearing what stops them from living a purpose driven life or quitting a job that doesn’t serve them. I assumed that people hated their 9 to 6 jobs (often plus overtime) and that many businesses are exploitative of people and environment.

I figured I needed to challenge these assumptions and be open to what might come out from the other side that I don’t understand. I chanced upon a report on a dating app and was curious about how they designed it and their take on what kind of elements create better conversations. Then it struck me that through such platforms, I can reach people from different walks in life, different social classes, different job titles, different industries and in different locations. It offers quite an expansive reach and opportunities to talk to people I wouldn’t usually get to.

Continue reading “I went on a dating app to find out what’s stopping us from systems change.”

In Search of Hope

What hope can you find when everything is fucked?

This is a film project that charts my journey in search of hope during COVID-19.

At the end of February 2020, I left France after a year of learning with climate activists and civic groups, overwhelmed with pessimism and despair. I was prepared to quit the system and find an eco-village to spend the rest of my days before one big disaster wipes us all out.

Prior to that, I spent years researching systems change and regeneration (Theory U, Sacred Economy, post-capitalism, UBI etc), which led me to switch from fashion to socially engaged arts practice and then move from the UK to France (a year of work at an NGO). At the end of the year, I accepted our impending doom and genuinely believed that the only way forward out of this mess is if we all quit cities to live in eco-villages. 

I left for North America in search of innovative practices. It was my last bit of hope in finding something innovative that we can do in cities within this system. And then COVID hit. I ended up staying in Canada a lot longer than expected amidst a whole lot of uncertainty and flight cancellations. I volunteered at people’s homes, was almost homeless at points, worked on organic farms, learned about permaculture, regenerative and restorative agriculture, change networks, co-ops, social innovation networks and various change making initiatives. In July I started a podcast documenting all these interesting conversations with people I met. This is an experimental film with edited snippets of the podcast recordings along with my narrative of this journey. 

It is about this crazy journey during COVID-19, about my search for hope but more importantly, about all these change making initiatives and actions people are taking all over the world. This is a call for action, but also an offering of various responses to our collective search for hope. This film is meant to inspire, empower and rejuvenate all those who care and to collectively take action. 

Film Festivals:

Ecocine – Festival Internacional de Cinema Ambiental e Direitos [Offical Selection]

https://ecocine.eco.br

SEA X SEA: Southeast Asia X Seattle Film Festival [Offical Selection]

Film International Storical & Short Film Festival [Offical Selection]

Zetimpuls Film Festival (Vienna, Austria)

The Lift-Off Sessions [Offical Selection]

First-Time Filmmaker Sessions [Offical Selection]

Creative Generation “Why change?” podcast

I was recently interviewed on Creative Generation’s “Why Change?” podcast and had a chat with ITAC’s executive director Madeleine McGirk on my socially engaged practice journey and my work with INSEP. Tune in for the conversation!

In this episode you’ll learn:

What is socially engaged artistic practice?;

How our systems which support arts, education, and social change must continue to adapt…and how; and

About new opportunities to virtually engage with others and stay connected in artistic communities of practice.

https://creative-generation.org/podcast-episodes/socially-engaged-practice-with-fi-neo

Ecocine Film Festival

My short film In Search of Hope made it into the official selection of the Ecocine Festival in Brazil!

It will be available for viewing from 30th March to 28th April.

In Search of Hope charts my journey in 2020, leaving Europe and digesting the experience working with minors who had been displaced and seeking asylum, the precarity of their situation and the sadness of what they had to go through. 

It’s a young person’s journey in search of hope, in a world that holds a lot of racial oppression, gender violence, structural inequalities and despair in view of the climate crisis. 

This film is a time capsule of my reflections in such chaotic time and a snapshot of the conversations I’ve been having with changemakers around the world. 

To watch the Ecocine Festival 2021 program access https://taoplay.com.br/cadastre-se

Social R&D storytelling


Been invited to be a guest speaker!

Hear from Artist-Composers Corina Kwami, Fié Neo, and Orode Faka at our National Gathering, happening March 30-31!

SIX – Social Innovation Exchange COO So Jung Rim will be facilitating their discussion on how art is leveraged in local communities, and how we can address exclusive histories by restorying music and art with its authentic roots as innovation
.

RSVP: https://bit.ly/3eCIX54

The Last Supper

Post-museum presents The Last Supper, a project by interdisciplinary artist, Fié Neo. 

Your must come event of the year. Yes, it’s literally the last. Say goodbye to 2020 in a meaningful way!

Physically distanced doesn’t mean we have to socially distance! This is the place to connect and convene. (All the while adhering to physical distancing regulations.) Tired of zoom calls? Feeling anxious about the climate crisis and want to act? Passionate about creating change and looking to connect with like minded people? This is your place for it.

Ft. Your unusual dinner table, the place to convene and connect. (We might have onions.) The “Take the blue pill then panic, but panic together” screening room. 


Don’t scream while it screens. This is your must have film stop. How this works: We will curate intentional meetings with the most unexpected pairing. So come with an open mind because you might be meeting someone you won’t otherwise have met. Systems change require an intersectional approach and interdisciplinary collaboration. This is a starting point for it.

Wayfinding

Commissioned short film for Social Innovation Exchange.

‘Wayfinding’ is a response to the sounds of chaos offered by participants of Tuning 1 during Covid-19 and reflects the journey of sense making as we find our way through this chaos. This short film was built upon the gifts of fellow artists in this residency as well as SIX’s JoSoKe in the form of audio recordings and video snippets of our lives across continents.


There were two wearable art pieces worn during the performance that weaved through the film. One was a piece I made entirely out of discarded zips and the other a headpiece made in 2015 as a critique of how everyone seemed to be cocooned in social media. I found that  ironic yet relevant now as it is a headpiece we cannot necessarily take off even if we want to. Both wearable art pieces become metaphorical representations of our internal and external struggles as we collectively way find towards hopeful futures. 


Below are links to videos of the wearable art pieces:
Emancipation (Zip piece)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WaMZRccVPbA&list=PL5Sx3YtkLxpdmeeZllzoGh6MJVMrSqvDj&index=6
Our Future X Technology (Cocooned in Social Media) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHdyUF3Lzoo&list=PL5Sx3YtkLxpdmeeZllzoGh6MJVMrSqvDj&index=10 10

S1E3 The Other Side: Mercy

The Other Side Season 1 Episode 3 – Menon’s Story: Mercy. Were the Japanese merciful? Menon recounts his father’s personal stories during the Japanese Occupation. The Other Side was born after many, many conversations. It started off with me wanting to understand the violence of the Syrian war, my questioning of humanity, my research into the war in my family history and then many, many uncomfortable and emotional conversations I have had with my Japanese friends that got me to uncover various perspectives to the Japanese Occupation. This docu-series is not meant to provide a singular perspective but rather, all the other sides that exist as it is my attempt to understand the human behind each decision and experience. If you’d like to see more of this, please support the continuation of this series by donating. Donations will fund the purchase of a professional sound recorder and cover some of the costs involved in making this production.

https://paypal.me/fieneo?locale.x=en_GB