Connecting Cultures

GEMAH is an International Arts & Health Program initiated by GEM Connect Pty Ltd (GEM) Australia and The Karachi Biennale Trust, a member of the International Biennale Committee. This ongoing initiative is aimed at creating awareness of wellbeing among youth, especially emerging young artists.

Each year, GEMAH engages with a different international community of young people to provide training and psychosocial support in our humanitarian efforts to build a new global social and health movement that connects young people to their emotions, empowering them to enact their extraordinary purpose in changing their world. In 2018, GEM worked with young refugees and refugee workers in Belgrade, Serbia. In 2019-2021, GEMAH will work with young artists in Karachi, Pakistan.

Artists are stereotyped for having to suffer in order to follow their passion. All students and professionals, regardless of their industry, struggle in their own way. It is a matter of understanding the struggle and tackling the obstacles effectively, with this insight of hope in mind. This may not come naturally to everyone and may result in frustration, negative attitudes and ultimately, emerging talented young artists give up.

GEM is a social enterprise – a New Social Health Movement – that aims to support emerging young artists of KB19 through GEMAH. This innovative arts and health program provides psychosocial support to all young people through face-to-face training and post-training online support that gives a set of tools – including our own unique binaural beats music – to enable a healthy understanding and expression of emotions and to enhance confidence and resilience in their decision-making processes. For GEMAH, emotional engagement comes through an awareness of how our belief systems affect our wellbeing and sense of authenticity and meaning.

KB19 was the second iteration of the Karachi Biennale Trusts’ flagship project which aims at promoting creativity, innovation and criticality in the visual arts. Karachi Biennale (KB) is the flagship project of the KBT that has been designed to use art as a vehicle to discover, discuss and respond to Karachi. Flight interrupted. This thematic for KB19 conjures flights begun, yet not completed. Journeys above the earth, yet of the earth; above the fray of humanity, yet also of it. Journeys of birds and multitude flying creatures, impacted by the destruction of the human to the connection between the human and nonhuman. The life-cycle of flying species permanently altered by disconnection – to themselves, to each other, and to the earth below and around them.

Humans, too, are flying species. They soar, hover, and rise. They can unchain themselves from the shackles of a world given, to fly with unbound thought of a world to come. They can rise above the fray, see the world around them as within them; a world not just for themselves, but for multiple others. They can create the change the world needs, save it from the destruction they’ve brought upon it, but only if they are connected, inspired, and empowered – collectively mobilised to make change.

Yes, people around the world today – and young people especially – are dealing with crises not previously encountered. Ours is a time of climate change, mass migration, food and housing insecurity, environmental degradation, and overall uncertainty about the future. Yet young people need not be confused, dejected, and anxious, with a lack of motivation, without a sense of purpose, and powerless to create change. They can mobilise in ways not previously yet thought. They can come together to inspire and collectively organise, to educate and make new, to give voice to themselves and others and gain control of all our futures. But they can only do this – to soar, rise, fly above the fray, uninterrupted – when their spirit, emotional capacity, and resilience is ignited.

With aligning missions, GEMAH and the Karachi Biennale Trust aim to continue to empower local Karachi youth who face challenges associated with a city in prolonged internal unrest and conflict. Research shows that this has led to increase in depression, anxiety and mental pressure that are often left unaddressed. It is because of this that GEMAH will bring their unique training to KB19 to help mobilise a newly embodied and connected sense of self and/to other, in the hopes of minimising anxiety, enabling resilience, and providing a sense of purpose and power to these young artists’ own decision-making as actions. Our workshops will provide a safe space – a refuge from flights interrupted – for these young artists to harness their creative energies and so enable an emotional state to more effectively receive the psychosocial care needed.

These artists will thus be inspired to make change, think the world anew, and so heal and rejuvenate it for themselves and all the others they share with it.