About the Experience

Everybody Is Gone is an in-person, interactive experience of immersive journalism. Drawing from the traditions of live theater, museum galleries, and research and reporting, Everybody Is Gone offers audiences insight into the day-to-day repression experienced by Uyghurs and others in the Uyghur Homeland.

Why is this event called Everybody Is Gone?

The phrase “everybody is gone” is both a euphemism and a truth, a metaphor and a deeply-felt tragedy. Inspired by a 2018 article by Gene Bunin, a scholar who has worked to raise awareness about the ongoing crisis in the Uyghur region, the title Everybody Is Gone describes a profound rift in the bedrock of society.

It speaks to the collective sense of loss, to the rapid disappearance of so many people into the dark maw of the security state.

It conjures people’s fear of saying aloud what is so plainly visible to them and all those around them.

For Uyghurs living abroad, it invokes the sudden, forced break in communications between them and their loved ones in the homeland.

And it defines the insidious nature of the campaign to suffocate Uyghur culture and language: those who survive are forever changed, in both their hearts and in how they present themselves to the rest of the world.

What to Expect

Audience members will be invited to take part in a number of different activities during the event and can expect to interact with both Everybody Is Gone team members and other attendees. Everybody Is Gone touches on themes of coercion, incarceration, surveillance, and the security state. While the event will be most rewarding for attendees who fully engage with the experience, any attendee is free to refuse to participate in any given activity and is also free to leave the space entirely at any time.

English is the primary language of Everybody Is Gone. Attendees can expect to interact with team members in written and spoken English.


Mukaddas Mijit is an ethnomusicologist, filmmaker, and artist. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at ULB (Université Libre de Bruxelles). She was born in Urumchi, the capital of Uyghur Homeland. Upon arriving in Paris in 2003 to study classical music, she realized how little the outside world knew of Uyghur culture. She then began her studies as an ethnomusicologist, researching the staging of Uyghur dance and music, receiving her PhD in 2015. As a dancer, Mijit has performed internationally and collaborated with numerous performers, creating original works that infuse traditional Uyghur music and dance with other cultures and styles. As a filmmaker, she has produced several ethnographic documentary films, including “Qetiq, Rock’n Ürümchi” (nominated in the 10th Aljazeera International Documentary Film Festival in 2014). Most recently, she wrote and co-directed a medium-length film about the challenges that Uyghur women face from both traditional social mores and the highly oppressive political environment in China. Mijit is also a co-creator, co-director, and performer in Everybody Is Gone, an original interactive theatrical production designed to raise awareness about the ongoing crisis in the Uyghur Homeland. She is the co-creator and co-host of “WEghur Stories,” the first podcast entirely about the global Uyghur diaspora.

Jessica Batke is a senior editor at ChinaFile. She researches China’s domestic political and social affairs, including issues in the Uyghur region. She previously served as a research analyst at the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research. She is also music director of the new musical “Kandahar,” which tells the story of one family navigating successive foreign invasions of Afghanistan. jessicabatke.com

John Bair is an American writer who specializes in combining policy and storytelling. He has worked as a foreign policy analyst, a political speechwriter, and a narrative consultant. In addition to his work on “Everybody Is Gone,” he is a co-creator and producer of “WEghur Stories,” the first podcast entirely about the Uyghur diaspora. He is also a co-author of the new musical “Kandahar,” which uses Afghan and American folk music to examine the legacy of American involvement in Afghanistan. John is also a Collaborating Artist at The New Wild, a multidisciplinary art lab. He has a degree in Asian & Middle Eastern studies from Dartmouth College, and a Master of Education from the George Washington University.

Nic Benacerraf is a scenographer, creative director, and scholar based in Brooklyn. Nic’s work involves constructing social and spatial environments for genuine human encounters, while deconstructing apparatuses of estrangement. After serving for 15 years as Founding Co-Artistic Director of The Assembly, he is now Founding Partner of Edge Effect Media Group, which uses collaborative techniques from the theater to unite leaders from all disciplines in the creation of multimedia pieces. His award-winning work as a scenographer has brought him into collaboration with ensembles such as The Living Theatre and The Yes Men, in spaces such as La MaMa and Lincoln Center. Nic received his M.F.A. from CalArts and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Theatre and Performance at the CUNY Graduate Center, where he studies the origin of Public Relations as a form of theatrical population control. www.nicbenacerraf.com

Marina McClure is a director of theater, opera, and spectacles, specializing in bringing geographically-specific stories to global audiences. Her work is known for striking visual design and physical performance, and has been honored with multiple MAP Fund awards, the Gurdin Prize, Creative Capital’s “On Our Radar” list, and a Drama Desk nomination for Unique Theatrical Experience. She helms the multidisciplinary art lab, The New Wild, for which she is currently directing the premieres of Letters From Home, a multimedia solo show in collaboration with a Cambodian-American father and daughter team, and Kandahar, a new musical that examines the legacy of foreign intervention in Afghanistan. She thoroughly enjoyed directing Wing It!, a parade and large-scale community performance for Handspring Puppet Company in celebration of South Africa’s National Day of Reconciliation. MFA: CalArts. www.marinamcclure.com

Lisa Ross is a photographer, video artist and educator living in New York City. Ross’s work revolves around the liminal spaces in which faith, culture and abstraction meet. Her immersive landscapes and early black and white work, explore the skin of the land. In doing so, she reveals the texture of culture, and, in time, the political realities inextricably bound to place that emerge. Ross has had exhibitions in the U.S. and Europe. Her work has been shown at the Rubin Museum of Art, New York; Tianshui Photo Bienniale, China; Fotografiska Museum, Sweden; University of London, Brunei Gallery; La Vielle Charite, Marseilles, France; Gulf Photo Plus, Dubai; Harvard University and the UC Berkeley; Ross received a Residency at The Watermill Center and a travel grant through Asian Cultural Council of New York. In 2018 she was an artist in Residence at View Art Gallery, Lanzhou, China. studiolisaross.com

Michael Weinberg is a lawyer and activist working at the intersection of innovation law and policy. Michaelweinberg.org.