During ISFiT’s second night, participants from ISFiT, as well as students and residents from Trondheim, welcomed the arrangement “Poets on the run” at Litteraturhuset in Trondheim. The overcrowded location was a great surprise to the artists who have been working hard to put focus on the repression of free speech across the globe, here in particular the Norwegian artist Moddi.
On the 9th of February, ISFiT invited people to Litteraturhuset to demonstrate that freedom of speech is still not offered across our globe. On stage, the audience could observe guest speakers Gunel Imanova (from Azerbaijan), Suzanne Ibrahim (from Syria) and Montaser Abdel Rahman (from Egypt), who all experienced the need to flee their home country because of the content of their writings. One of the guest speakers stood out among the countries represented in the debate. Moddi, a Norwegian artist who combines activism and music, has taken part in a project, in cooperation with artists from all over the world, to make his album Unsongs, in which he has interpreted 12 forbidden songs from different countries.
In relation to his engagement and work for freedom of speech, the moderator Adria Scharmen asked Moddi about his experience with the feeling of responsibility behind the album. After the question was asked, a confused smile appeared in Moddi’s face.
“When you say responsibility, you make it sound like something heavy and negative (…) It’s not about responsibility, it’s possibilities.”
Moddi connected this to possibilities generated from being a white male living in Norway, one of the most stable countries in the world. His work on the album was a period of creative freedom and fun. Despite having these possibilities, Moddi described the hard work in making people want to listen to music that put focus on free speech. This was expressed in an interview after the festival:
“After 4 years of working with this topic, I have experienced that free speech and music is not a very sexy topic. You need to work very hard to make people listen. To see people stacked up a long way down the street to take part of the event tells us something about how hard ISFiT has worked.”
The evening was officially a success. Both participants of ISFiT and citizens of Trondheim expressed that they had a good time and learned more about the life of poets on the run.