A Poet & Photographer met a Reader in Creative Industries

Interdisciplinary conversations between artists and academics

Iron Cage

Poet and photographer Kay Rufai wrote and performed 'Iron Cage' in response to his conversation with Amit Rai

This is how he got there...

Kay Rufai
Dr Amit Rai

Kay Rufai is a Photographer, Poet, Filmmaker, Author, Mental Health researcher and founder of the internationally acclaimed S.M.I.L.E-ing Boys projects. His work spans the past 5 years in a handful of countries including the UK, USA, Ethiopia, Bhutan, Germany, Scandinavia, Mexico, Nigeria and Colombia. He has spent the past 3 years exploring the intersection between culture, masculinity, identity, racial emancipation, mental health and community cohesion through art, photography, educational workshops and public events. A great deal of his work has directly engaged diverse communities, minority, refugee and displaced groups of people as well as collaboratively creating bodies of work with them.

Kay Rufai has recieved numerous funding and support awards from the Mayor of London, Arts Council, British Council and The Wellcome Trust for his S.M.I.L.E-ing Boys project which is a public health researched photo-documentary project that explores the impact of smiling on improving well-being for black boys, violence reduction and as a tool to challenge negative stereotypes of this demographic in the society.

He has recieved numerous accolades for his research led series of workshops and exhibitions across the country. The award winning project has featured in the Guardian, Channel 5 news, The Voice, BBC and the local press exploring themes such as Masculinity, Identity, Lack of father figures, Love, Loss, Friendship, Roles of Mothers & Youth Violence. This project produced a critically acclaimed poetry album titled ‘Boy And A Bike (Miseducation Of Black Youth)' available on all platforms.

Dr. Amit S. Rai is Reader in Creative Industries and Arts Organising at Queen Mary, University of London, where he has also taught critical marketing studies and business ethics. He is author of Rule of Sympathy: Race, Sentiment, Power 1760-1860 (Palgrave, 2002) and Untimely Bollywood: Globalization and India’s New Media Assemblage (Duke UP, 2009). He has taught at the New School for Social Research, Florida State University, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, the Dutch Art Institute, and Lorton Maximum Security Prison. His current research touches on critical management and organizational studies of the creative and cultural industries in the UK and India, the gendering of affective labor in social reproduction in India, media practices of commoning, and hacking and piracy ecologies in the UK and South Asia. His monograph on work-around practices in Indian urban digital ecologies, Jugaad Time: Ecologies of Everyday Hacking in India, was published in 2019 by Duke University Press.

'Smiling Boys' by Kay Rufai
'The Future is a Monster' by Amit Rai
On 15 JULY 2020, Kay and Amit held their conversation
On 15 JULY 2020, Kay and Amit held their conversation

on the happiness index in Kay's research

on politicisation within creative practice

I'm cognizant that we're meeting about a month since the public lynching of George Floyd and I was wondering in what sense Black Lives Matter has impacted you and your practice?

Dr Amit Rai

on Blackness and crises of solidarity

Amit Rai wrote this piece in response to his conversation with Kay Rufai