Between 22nd and 24th March, ICORN will convene its sixth biennial Network Meeting (NM) in the capital of Belgium and Flanders, at the heart of the European Union. The three-day convention will bring together colleagues and partners throughout the network to inspire and reflect on our work for freedom of expression, democracy, and human rights.
Generously hosted by Théâtre National Wallonie-Bruxelles, the City Hall of Brussels (Hôtel de Ville/ Stadhuis), and Passa Porta International House of Literature, the programme of the ICORN NM will include a varied selection of events. Under the thematic guideline of ‘Paper’ and its paradoxical power in building bridges through art and the written word, yet limiting identity and movement, one of the NM’s main topics will be the possibility of crossing borders, both literally and metaphorically.
In this spirit, writers, artists, and journalists will enlighten the NM participants about their work, the situation in their home countries, and more through the power of music, art, stories, and reports. Musical performances by Hero and Frya, speeches by journalists Vafa Mehraeen and Lucy Kassa, and literary interventions with Selma M. Yonus, Mehdi Mousavi and many others, the NM will celebrate the power of free expression. Public performances highlighting the ‘Woman, Life, Freedom’ movement in Iran and beyond, will also provide powerful focus on solidarity and human rights across borders.
We will be joined by Cathrine Woollard, Director of the European Council on Refuges and Exiles (ECRE), and Mikael Ribbenvik, the Director General of the Swedish Migration Agency, shedding light on the latest migration and mobility developments in Europe. Through the lens of Yemeni photographer and newly arrived ICORN resident in Stavanger, Hayat Al-Sharif, we will zoom in on the mobility and relocation practices and challenges relevant to ICORN’s work. Further exploring the topic, writer, critic, and scholar Stefan Jonsson will address the NM titled How to be a border, and how to cross it: what literature and art know about democracy.
Parallel events and workshops will provide space for everyone to discuss, inform, learn, and inspire. Among other, we offer a panel on the topic of Journalism in Exile, a workshop on Getting Published and Finding Readers in a New Country, a session On Well-being for Human Rights Defenders, and explore how to further develop cooperation and the work of the network by providing working sessions on Building Cultural Bridges: Projects by ICORN Residents and Cities of Refuge, The future of ICORN – Strategic Session, Anchoring the ICORN Programme - Synergies and Impact, and others.
KEYNOTE SPEECH: Mohsin Hamid on 'Refuge'
Under the theme of ‘Refuge’, writer and novelist Mohsin Hamid will deliver the keynote speech of the 2023 ICORN NM, also opening this year’s edition of the Passa Porta Festival. Regularly addressing issues of global injustice, identity, and migration through his work, Hamid’s speech will emphasize on the main themes of the ICORN NM and the Passa Porta Festival.
Mohsin Hamid is the author of five novels Moth Smoke (2000), The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2007), How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia (2013), Exit West (2017), and, most recently, The Last White Man (2022) He has also published a book of essays entitled Discontent and Its Civilizations (2014). He also regularly contributes to publications, such as The Guardian, The New York Times, and The Washington Post.
The Passa Porta Festival and Brussels ICORN City of Refuge
We are honoured to organise the ICORN NM in connection with the Passa Porta Festival, which hold its ninth edition of the festival opening on Thursday evening with a keynote speech by writer and novelist Mohsin Hamid. ICORN residents will feature throughout the weekend programme of Passa Porta Festival.
The theme of the 2023 edition of the Passa Porta festival is ‘REFUGE’, and its more than 60 literary events will last until the evening of Sunday 26th March. 2022 Nobel Literature Prize winner Annie Ernaux, Ukranian writer Oksana Zabuzhko, and British historian Timothy Garton Ash are amongst those who will be in Brussels to take part in the largest multilingual gathering in Europe of its kind.
With the support of City of Brussels, the International House of Literature Passa Porta and Festival joined ICORN in 2007. Since then, Brussels ICORN City of Refuge has hosted six ICORN residents, including Boris Korkmazov, Ali Amar, Arash Chakeri, Monem Mahjoub, and currently Vafa Mehraeen.
Must-attend Passa Porta Festival Events
Friday 24th March
Anytime: ‘Tous Migrants’ Exhibition at The Brussels Stock Exchange.
20:00 Meet the author: Timoty Garton Ash (in English) at Fiocco (De Munt/ La Monnaie) (REGISTRATION REQUIRED).
20:00 Inventaire de la disparition (in French) at La Bellone (REGISTRATION REQUIRED).
Saturday 25th March
11:00 International Literature Quiz (in English) and lunch with literary professionals at MAD Brussels.
15:00 Meet the author: HashemHashem (EN) at Muntpunt (Literair Salon).
16:30 Meet the author: Adania Shibli (in English) at MAD Brussels.
18:00 Meet the author: Sajsa Filipenko (in Russian with English interpretation) at La Bellone.
Sunday 26th March
11:00 Should have been my mother tongue: Ahilan Ratnamohan (in English) at the Grand Foyer (De Munt/ La Monnaie).
13:30 Meet the author: Vladimir Sorokin (in English) at Fiocco (De Munt/ La Monnaie).
15:00 Conversation between Tash Aw & Claudia Durastanti (in English) at Fiocco (De Munt/ La Monnaie).
16:30 Ukraine writes back: Oksana Zabuzhko and Victoria Belim (in English) at Fiocco (De Munt/ La Monnaie).
20:00 Closing dinner at Les Halles