Adelaide Damoah was approached by registered charity the Rural Refugee Network to produce a special performance and piece of work which represented the struggle of Syrian refugee families to acclimatise in the UK. After speaking to the charity and in-depth research, Damoah felt that the struggle reminded her somewhat of the Audre Lorde poem, “A Litany for Survival.” 


The performance was filmed in private with cameraman Cameron Prins and artist Emma Thistleton to assist. The end result was the performance piece itself and a video piece documenting the performance.


 Damoah used resistance bands around her feet and secured them to a pillar. Covered in black paint, she struggled against the bands to move forward on the canvas. Every time she moved, the bands pulled her back. Damoah would rest a little, get up again and keep moving. She kept repeating the action until the bands snapped and she was able to get up and walk away, her footprints being the evidence of her escape. 


Of the performance Damoah said, 


“ I am only too aware that I have no idea what it is to escape war in your own country and to try to acclimatise in a foreign land when many of your friends and loved ones have perished. I can not begin to imagine the degree of suffering and struggle that so many face. I also know that some make it and some do not. Some end up on the streets or worse. I am not arrogant enough to imagine that my performance can in any way make a difference to those in this position, but I wanted the performance to be somewhat representative of struggle while simultaneously representing hope for a better future. Most importantly, I hope that anyone who sees this work can be reminded to have empathy, rather than tolerance for those in this position. The overall narrative around refugees is problematic and needs to change.”


A Litany for Survival By Audre Lourde 


For those of us who live at the shoreline

standing upon the constant edges of decision

crucial and alone

for those of us who cannot indulge

the passing dreams of choice

who love in doorways coming and going

in the hours between dawns

looking inward and outward

at once before and after

seeking a now that can breed


like bread in our children’s mouths

so their dreams will not reflect

the death of ours;

For those of us

who were imprinted with fear

like a faint line in the center of our foreheads

learning to be afraid with our mother’s milk

for by this weapon

this illusion of some safety to be found

the heavy-footed hoped to silence us

For all of us

this instant and this triumph

We were never meant to survive

And when the sun rises we are afraid

it might not remain

when the sun sets we are afraid

it might not rise in the morning

when our stomachs are full we are afraid

of indigestion

when our stomachs are empty we are afraid

we may never eat again

when we are loved we are afraid

love will vanish

when we are alone we are afraid

love will never return

and when we speak we are afraid

our words will not be heard

nor welcomed

but when we are silent

we are still afraid

So it is better to speak


we were never meant to survive.