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Somali musician Abdi Mohamed Abdi spent sixteen years in a refugee camp in Kenya where he formed the Somali Peace Band with singer Daacad Rashid. Their music made them famous. Today Abdi lives free in Melbourne while Daacad lives in Nairobi, in constant fear of death threats from Islamic fundamentalists while awaiting the outcome of his application for asylum in Australia. 

In 2010, Chinese Australian artist Royce Ng saw Abdi perform in Melbourne and became involved in putting him back in touch with Daacad in Kenya, and re-recording the songs of the Somali Peace Band. 

Gertrude Contemporary presented The Somali Peace Band, an immersive three-channel video installation, including interviews with Abdi and Daacad and recreations of their experiences. Using the poignant beauty of their music as a vehicle, The Somali Peace Band project questions the limits of activism and advocacy within the context of art and explores the various forms of ‘the law’ that bind individuals across history, cultures and geography. 

During the festival the Front Gallery at Gertrude Contemporary was converted into an open social space with events programmed by the Somali community that will feature shared food, artist workshops, music recording, a poetry reading, a guest curated video reel and an archive of Somali texts. 

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