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Motiroti was a London based organisation which used the arts to achieve intercultural innovation. Since the mid-1990s the company made internationally acclaimed and award winning art that transformed relationships between people, communities and spaces. motiroti worked at the forefront of ever-changing global social realities, challenging and teasing perceptions of artists, institutions and audiences alike.

Working with a range of collaborators within visual and live art, new technology and socially engaged practice, motiroti made public art with the public itself being central to the making and shaping of the work, using emerging social technologies to incorporate multiple perspectives within artworks. The company fostered the development of a lifelong learning culture, with learning and art production part of the same process, and offered potent opportunities to inspire and develop a dynamic exchange between artists and communities.


Motiroti means 'fat bread' in Urdu, and the company took its name from one of its earliest projects, Moti Roti Puttli Chunni - a playful examination of gender stereotypes, presented as live Bollywood musical theatre in east London. Co-founded by artists Ali Zaidi and Keith Khan, motiroti was officially registered as a charity in 1996, although the pair had worked together since the late 1980s. Khan left the company in 2004 to become CEO of the Rich Mix Cultural Foundation.[1] Ali Zaidi continued as the sole Artistic Director until 2012, when he left to establish his own freelance practice under the name of Ali Zaidi Arts. motiroti was thereafter led by Executive Director Tim Jones, who joined the company in 2010, and following its closure operates as an independent consultant and workshop designer, advising on the development of enterprise opportunities and digital capacity in the culture sector.

Details of motiroti projects, from the early 1990s onwards, can be viewed online here. A catalogued archive of its work from the late 1980s up to 2005 is owned by Future Histories, the UK's first dedicated repository for African, Asian and Caribbean performing arts, and its contents can be viewed here.

motiroti presented works in many countries, at venues such as Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol;[2] Barbican Centre, London;[3] Bonn Biennale;[4] Brooklyn Academy of Music;[5] Edinburgh Festival; Festival Iberoamericano de Teatro de Bogota;[6] Greenwich Theatre; Harbour Front Centre, Toronto; Houston International Festival; Institute of Contemporary Arts, London;[7] Ikon Gallery, Birmingham; It's Queer Up North,[8] Manchester; Kannonhallen, Denmark; Krannert Center, Illinois;[9] La Ferme du Buisson, France; Leeds Mela; London International Festival of Theatre; Lille 3000; Melbourne Festival;[10] Midlands Arts Centre; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Museum of London; National College of Arts, Lahore; National Gallery, Cape Town; National Theatre, Islamabad; Natural History Museum, London; New Art Gallery, Walsall; New Haven Festival of Arts and Ideas; Notting Hill Carnival; Oval House Theatre, London; Queen Elizabeth Hall, London; REDCAT, Los Angeles;[11] Romaeuropa Festival, Italy; Royal Albert Hall, London; Royal Court Theatre, London; Royal Festival Hall, London; Royal Geographical Society with IGB,[12] London; Royal National Theatre, London; Science Museum,[13] London; Serpentine Gallery, London;[14] Sibikwa Theatre, Johannesburg; Singapore Arts Festival; Tamaseel Theatre, Lahore; Tate Liverpool; Tate Modern; Theatre Royal Stratford East; Tramway Theatre, Glasgow;[15] V&A;[16] Warwick Arts Centre;[17] West Yorkshire Playhouse; Whitney Museum,[18] New York.

Notable productions[edit]

  • Multiwalks (2013–14) – a suite of artist-led creative walks through 3 city neighbourhoods (Vauxhall and Waterloo in London, England; Santa Croce in Reggio Emilia, Italy; Gronland and Bjorvika in Oslo, Norway). Developed by motiroti in partnership with Do Tank Studios, Mondinsieme and Oslo Intercultural Museum, Multiwalks is a free mobile app available on iOS and Google Play;
  • Potluck: Chicago (2011-2012) - a residency process at Columbia College Chicago which drew upon art, food, design, urban planning, technology and social enterprise to offer a toolbox for making 'The Local' more vibrant.
  • Streets of Gold (2012)- An installation at the Museum of London. Creatively directed by artist Daniel Saul, Streets of Gold offered a fresh vision of London through migrant eyes, and a reminder that cities are built on the dreams of successive newcomers.
  • 360° (2007–2010) – Bringing to light a rounded contemporary picture of the cultural dynamics between Britain, India and Pakistan. The three-year programme consists of 60x60 Secs, three international Arts Residency Labs and a new collaborative work.[19]
  • Priceless (2006) Priceless brought together high profile art and science institutions together. A multi-site large-scale project involving video and graphic installations, road-shows, mobile units, guided tours to secret archives and major launch event in and around Exhibition Road. Commissioned by the Serpentine Gallery, Platform for Art and The Exhibition Road Cultural Group (Natural History Museum, Science Museum, Royal Geographical Society and V&A , Imperial College London, and Goethe-Institut London). To date one of the most ambitious projects of the company.
  • Alladeen (2002–2005) – A co-production with The Builders Association which weaved between the ancient legend of Aladdin from 1001 nights and identity-blurring phenomena found in the teeming metropolises of Bangalore, London and New York.[20]
  • Celebration Commonwealth (2002) – A parade highlighting the Commonwealth of Nations and its contribution of peoples and cultures to the United Kingdom for Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom's Golden Jubilee Weekend.[21]
  • One Night (1997) – A piece of visual theatre exploring the shifts between Indian courtesan culture, first-generation British Asians and contemporary student life in the United Kingdom.
  • Wigs of Wonderment (1995–1999) – A performance installation challenging the notions of beauty, objectification and the 'exotic' in Western culture.[22]
  • Maa (1995) – An audacious mix of odd mythic creatures, melodrama, snatches of film, towering carnival costumes and scratch animation.
  • The Seed The Root (1995) – A series of site-specific installations and performances exploring gender and cultural imbalances, created in collaboration with local businesses in Brick Lane and international and British artists.
  • Moti Roti, Puttli Chunni (1993–1994) – The United Kingdom's first Bollywood musical. Winner of Time Out Performance Award
  • Flying Costumes, Floating Tombs (1991) – An extravagant spectacle inspired by the Hosay Festival in Trinidad. Winner of Time Out Performance Award.

Notable collaborators[edit]

Mina Anwar,[23] Christophe Berthonneau, Sonia Boyce,[24] dbox,[25] Shahram Entekhabi,[26] Guillermo Gómez-Peña,[27] Shobna Gulati,[28] Pen Hadow,[29] Indira Joshi,[30] Isaac Julien, Akram Khan,[28] Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan,[31] Jamila Massey,[32] Robin Rimbaud,[33] Sunetra Sarker,[34] Shri,[35] Jasmine Simhalan,[36] Talvin Singh,[37] Nina Wadia,[23] Benjamin Zephaniah. Nila Madhab Panda,[38] Shalalae Jamil,[38] Daniel Saul.[39]


  1. ^ Biography of Keith Khan on Live Art Development Agency website. (13 April 2007). Retrieved on 19 October 2011.
  2. ^ reference to Flying Costumes, Floating Tombs on Bristol University website
  3. ^ Barbican Centre Annual Report 2003/04
  4. ^ Article about Alladeen from Netzeitung
  5. ^,sellar,49306,11.html Review of Alladeen from the Village Voice
  6. ^ Article about Alladeen from Teatro Mundial
  7. ^ Reference to ''Wigs of Wonderment'' season at the ICA. Retrieved on 19 October 2011.
  8. ^ Description of the exhibition Fluid at It's Queer Up North on [ Archived 12 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ Reference to Alladeen season on University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign website
  10. ^ Review of Alladeen from Theatre Notes blog
  11. ^ REDCAT website Archived 12 June 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ Information about ''Priceless'' exhibition on Culture24. (11 August 2006). Retrieved on 19 October 2011.
  13. ^ Information about Priceless exhibition on Goethe-Institut website
  14. ^ Time Out website
  15. ^ of Alladeen from
  16. ^ Department for Culture, Media and Sport/V&A funding agreement 2005/06 – 2007/08 referencing the Priceless exhibition with motiroti
  17. ^ Information about Alladeen at the Warwick Arts Centre from University of Warwick website
  18. ^ Information about The American Effect exhibition from Whitney Museum's website
  19. ^ 360° website
  20. ^ Article about Alladeen from the New York Times (30 November 2003). Retrieved on 19 October 2011.
  21. ^ Biography of Keith Khan on Department for Culture, Media and Sport website referencing Celebration Commonwealth
  22. ^ ''Performing Identity in the Digital Age'' by Rhiannon Armstrong from [ CSA website. Retrieved on 19 October 2011.
  23. ^ a b Cast list for Moti Roti, Puttli Chunni from [ Archived 31 January 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  24. ^ Information about the ''Plain Magic'' project from New Audiences website. Retrieved on 19 October 2011.
  25. ^ Article about screening of motiroti/dbox collaboration cutout II from Asians In Media website
  26. ^ Description of ''Fresh Azan'', a collaboration between Shahram Entekhabi and motiroti from Entekhabi's website. Retrieved on 19 October 2011.
  27. ^ Information on masterclass with Guillermo Gomez-Pena on inIVA website
  28. ^ a b Information about The Seed, The Root from [ Archived 12 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  29. ^ Testimonial from Pen Hadow's website Archived 29 June 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  30. ^ Cast list for One Night from [ Archived 10 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  31. ^ Information on Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan in Concert from [ Archived 12 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  32. ^ Cast list for Moti Roti, Puttli Chunni Archived 31 January 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  33. ^ Information about ''Plain Magic'' project from New Audiences website. Retrieved on 19 October 2011.
  34. ^ Cast list for One Night from [ Archived 10 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  35. ^ Press release for Alladeen from Wexner Center for the Arts website
  36. ^ Press release for Alladeen from REDCAT website
  37. ^ Information about the Anokha project from [ Archived 10 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  38. ^ a b Archived from the original on 19 February 2008. Retrieved 8 November 2008.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  39. ^ Archived from the original on 4 April 2008. Retrieved 8 November 2008.  Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links on the UK web archive[edit]