Three weeks into ‘The People Who Came From The Sea’, Brigade’s artistic director, Michael Bank Christoffersen sat down with Eliyah Mesayer and Galvin Harrison to talk to them about their collaborative practices, what community means to them and what’s next. How did your collaboration begin? Mesayer: In 2019 I did a solo show at Kvit Gallery while I was still at the Academy. I worked part time in a coffee shop residing in the same building as where Harrison was living at the time. He had heard about my show, and we started talking. Harrison: That’s when I came to know about Mesayer and the universe she is building on her own. I invited Mesayer to join my art project T.N.G (The Next Generation) as an artist in residence after her graduation and we then started working on the Krakas Plads project – our first project together. Mesayer: And while I joined T.N.G., Harrison joined Illiyeen.
How are your individual practices connected? Harrison: We work back-to-back, even though it’s at our own pace, we always have a crossover point where we meet, where we check in on each other, and where we seek and find inspirations from each other's universes. Somehow it always connects.
What does community/family mean to you and how is it translated throughout your work? Mesayer: When we recognize people’s skills, talent or just needs, we can compare it to our own way of being, and that´s where we invite people in. For us it is easy to recognize these traits somehow, especially with Harrison’s experience. Harrison: The community is everything. Those that are closely knitted and those that wander in and out. Without this community and the sense of family that it generates, we would not be able to be an example of the values we cherish. Mesayer: And everyone is welcome!
Both of your practices are very much tied to the conceptual state of Illiyeen: A state for the stateless - what is its purpose? Mesayer: Illiyeen has become the strongest force of communication, as well as one of the best ways to translate the political and poetic ideas of our work.
You both engage in social projects such as The Mesayer Foundation and the The Next Generation (T.N.G.) - What are your hopes and wishes for the development of these projects? Harrison: It’s very simple: change, devolution and evolution at the same time because it is much needed. Mesayer: And: “Leave no loved soul behind”.
How has your work process with Brigade been and what are you working on next? Mesayer: It has been an honor to have had the opportunity to showcase our achievements for the projects of Illiyeen and T.N.G. from the past two years. And being able to finally show it to a bigger audience. We are grateful to have had Brigade as the gatekeepers for the new nation for a while. Thank you. Harrison: Up next, I will be working on a community-based project for the upcoming months. I work with different establishments and institutions in smaller and larger communities where I, through T.N.G. acting as a visual catalyst, create a dialog between the communities and the arts. Mesayer: My work is right now based on the archive and research of Illiyeen. Up next, will be Brigade’s artist residency in Havana where I am excited to continue my process and to get inspired. Due to the overwhelming response to Mesayer and Harrison’s important exhibition, we have decided to extend it for another week, now closing on 26 February. Click here to view the full list of works included in the exhibition.