How Georgia and Hossam Support Artists Facing Oppression and Censorship

bosla arts

Georgia Beeston and Hossam Fazulla met while studying for their Masters at SOAS. They are now the co-founders of Bosla Arts, a collective of art practitioners and activists who rise up and challenge corruption, injustice, and poverty. This month, they launch the first issue of In Defiance, a zine featuring seven artists from around the world who use their art to subvert and confront oppression.

We caught up with Georgia and Hossam ahead of their launch party this Friday to find out what inspired Bosla Arts and what they learned during their time at SOAS.

Hossam Fazulla and Georgia Beeston, SOAS alumni and co-founders of Bosla Arts.

What inspired you to start Bosla Arts?

We have both always wanted to collaborate in some way and combine our interests and experience in the arts and human rights. We also know from first-hand experience or research that artists around the world are using their practice to express and protest systems of oppression but are also being directly targeted for their work – whether through persecution, censorship, or social exclusion.

We wanted to share and support the work of artists facing these types of situations, while drawing on their work and stories to raise awareness in the UK, particularly in the post-Brexit climate and subsequent rise of anti-migrant sentiment.

Can you talk us through one of your favourite pieces featured in In Defiance? Why do you find it powerful?

Tough question! Each and every artist featured has gone above and beyond our expectations and we are so grateful that they trusted us to share their work and stories. Each contribution has been eye-opening: from the clampdown on human rights in Hong Kong, to climate change in Argentina, from racism in Colombia, to trans rights in Malaysia, from occupation in Palestine to imprisonment in Belarus, and changing societies in Egypt.

Georgia – Lady Liberty Hong Kong had a profound impact on me. The Hong Kong collective have dedicated their lives to using art as a way of advocating freedom of expression within one of the most dangerous contexts.

Hossam – The work of Abdulrahman Adriano really stood out to me. I am really drawn to the way that he uses photography as a social tool, as a representation of life in Egypt without the often orientalist lens so often shown in images of the country.

What did you study at SOAS? How did it help you in your current career?

Georgia – I did my MA in Near and Middle Eastern Studies. It was an essential part of my career and general outlook on the world. In particular, my final dissertation on the street art of the 2011 Egyptian Revolution really helped to solidify my interests and knowledge of art activism.

Hossam – I completed my MA in Global Media and Post-National Communications. It has been hugely important in my career as a journalist, reporter, and media producer. Alongside my work with Bosla Arts, I am also a journalist and producer at the BBC, and my degree helped me get there.

Do you have a favourite memory of your time at SOAS?

It’s impossible to choose one – SOAS was so important to both of us. Just being in that atmosphere, meeting people from all around the world, and opening our eyes to so many different contexts changed both our outlooks for the better. And, of course, the daily interesting conversations outside on the campus and the many nights spent at the SOAS bar.

It’s also where we met.

What are your hopes for In Defiance and the future of Bosla Arts?

We really hope that In Defiance reaches people and perhaps changes their perspective or understanding on the situation in different countries. I also hope it connects people to the artists and brings future opportunities for each and every contributor. For Bosla Arts, we have big plans! We want to make regular issues of our zine and also hope to set up an art residency in London for artists facing risk – more on that soon

Don’t miss the In Defiance launch party

The Frontline Club, London
Friday 20 May, 7-10 pm

There will be a poetry reading by contributor Mohammed Moussa and a talk by artist Mo Langmuir who designed the map that comes free with every copy. Tickets are £5, which are redeemable with a drink on the night. Book here.

Don’t forget to buy your copy of In Defiance. SOAS students and alumni get a 10% discount using the code: SOAS10.

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