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Artists in Association

In 2020, Birkbeck Gender and Sexuality established the BiGS Artists in Association programme, where artists are invited to respond to our guiding theme. Following on from the 2020-21 theme of ‘care’, in 2021-22 we have invited two artists to respond to the theme of ‘repair’.

The successful applicants may wish to engage with a Birkbeck academic's work as part of this project.

BiGS Artists in Association 2021-22

Jenny Mitchell

  • The award-winning poet, Jenny Mitchell, will create a new selection of poems, 'Caregiving - Repairing a Wounded Dynamic', which respond to and retell the story of Jane Eyre from the perspective of a free woman of colour in the nineteenth century. The aim will be to interrogate and challenge the limits canonical English literature place on the expression of black womanhood, coded in the character of Bertha Rochester - the mad woman in the attic.
  • The poems will ask questions about the narrowly defined role of servant or caregiver that women of colour are stereotypically forced to inhabit in relation to a dominant white culture that offers little care in return. They will also seek to open up a discussion about how a contemporary poetic examination of the legacies of British transatlantic enslavement might help transform entrenched ideas about black-white female dynamics.
  • These poems will be shared to a wider audience via an online performance by Jenny, and during a live event as part of Arts Week 2022, 'Time for Emancipation: poetry, waiting, repair' on motherhood, poetry and repair. This will be co-produced by the Waiting Times Project (Wellcome funded) and will aim to reposition black female voices within the established literary canon.
  • Jenny's essay How Being a Girl Poet Saved My Life, is featured in the Feminism and Gender Equality Digital and Resource Page under 'Women and the Arts'. You can also access a short film called 'Poetry Matters' that she made with Culture Matters.

Shama Khanna

  • Stickers for Liberatory Parents and Carers' is a project by Shama Khanna, which aims to actively question gender stereotypes and narratives in children's learning books. During Birkbeck Arts Week 2022, Shama will host an in-person participatory event where kids and their parents and/or carers can use stickers to play with gender stereotypes in children’s books: from characters' pronouns to the way they are dressed. 
  • While there is now a wide choice of books to read to children, in Khanna's experience, their child has been gifted many new and 'classic' stories perpetuating patriarchal narratives - in some instances where female characters don't appear at all - which seem to have enduring appeal lasting generations. They plan to bring these books into the twenty first century by using stickers to play with gender stereotypes, from characters' pronouns to the way they are dressed.
  • A recent study found that using gender neutral pronouns reduces mental biases that favour men and increases positive attitudes towards women and queer, non-binary and trans communities. More immediately, hate crime towards the trans community and women is rife. Not to mention how the burden of childcare and home schooling has fallen unfairly to women affecting their life chances and career progression. Through this activity of 'repairing' books, they hope to create space for discussions around the way gender is used to limit our experience and the ways in which we relate to one another from our very first encounters with education.
  • Khanna is the Director of Flatness, a platform for artists’ moving image and network culture invested in curating through a decolonial feminist lens. The project is a rare example of a long-running platform led by and for Queer Trans Intersex Black and People of Colour (QTIBPOC) together with practices committed to working towards equity for people from overlooked groups. Currently Flatness is commissioned as part of an AHRC-funded fellowship led by researchers from Manchester Met University and Axisweb to rethink what inclusion in the arts means. In partnership with not/nowhere, Khanna will produce a book documenting existing contributions to Flatness alongside new commissions inviting manifestations of diasporic futurity. Contributors include a community gardener/herbalist, and a nature connection coach as well as QTIBIPOC artists and co-ops; surveying alternative systems of support and leadership for health, creativity, land justice and mothering.



  • Care(free) is a new piece of prose poetry written by Alinah Azadeh, a journey through the future imaginary of the Greco-Roman goddess Cura (Care) as she creates the first human out of clay. 
  • The work invites reflection on the gendered origins of caring itself, through the interwoven narratives of three women, and considers the cost of crossing the shifting boundary between caring for others into the potential loss of one’s own freedom, life and health in the process. It also sings its praises as a well of creative and political potency through times of crises.
  • Listen to Care(free). For an enhanced experience, take it to the edge of a river, notebook in hand and listen there.
  • Alinah Azadeh is a writer, artist, performer and social activist, creating poetic and provocative narratives around identity, loss, and our personal and social relationships, for museums, galleries, public spaces and across diverse communities over the last 20 years. She has published short stories, articles and poetry (most recently in Covert Magazine) and has recently finished writing her first novel, In the Skin of a Stranger, which was longlisted for the S I Leeds Literary Prize. 
  • Alinah is an Associate Research Fellow at Birkbeck Centre for Contemporary Theatre.
  • Alinah's online work on care and other emotional commons themes during an artist residency for Craftspace this year, produced Craft in Common, and recently co-won the 2020 Achates Prize.
  • We See You Now, her audio walk project and programme-in-development, is focusing on decolonisation and climate amidst the shifting coastal landscape of the South Downs National Park.
  • You can follow Alinah on social media on TwitterInstagram and Facebook. You can also visit Alinah's website.


  • Alda Terracciano is an interdisciplinary artist/researcher with a particular interest in creating tangible experiences using mediums such as moving image, sound, and participatory design. She is an Associate Research Fellow in the School of Arts (Birkbeck Centre for Contemporary Theatre).  


  • Spaces of Care is a new video piece by performance maker and director, Fauve Alice.
  • This video piece is born from the experience of being a professional care worker over the past 18 months; the frustrations of being atomised as a worker, and dreaming of what care could look like if we thought about it in a more playful and holistic way, and in relation to the spaces that we construct.
  • This work was commissioned by Birkbeck Gender and Sexuality (BiGS) as part of the BiGS Artist in Association programme for 2020-21.
  • Fauve Alice is a performer and maker who creates playful, provocative, sensual performance pieces which explore and question normative social values. She works in both national and international contexts.
  • Watch Spaces of Care.
  • Visit Fauve Alice's website.


For more information or to apply for 2022-23, please .