Azerbaijani artist Faig Ahmed transforms traditional techniques into lush 3D forms – interview



Azerbaijan’s Faig Ahmed merges fresh, modern textiles with traditional techniques. 

Faig Ahmed, one of Azerbaijan’s most internationally recognised visual artists, adds a decidedly modern twist to carpet weaving, string art and embroidery. Art Radar spoke with Ahmed to learn more about his most recent riffs on traditional Azerbaijani textiles, and how the artist prevents himself from being held “hostage to tradition”. 

Faig Ahmed. Photograph by Rauf Askyarov.

Faig Ahmed. Photograph by Rauf Askyarov.

Faig Ahmed (b. 1982, Baku, Azerbaijan) successfully completed his BFA in Sculpture from the Azerbaijan State Academy of Fine Arts in 2004. In 2013, the artist was shortlisted for the Jameel Prize 3 at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Ahmed has exhibited his work throughout the world, including group and solo exhibitions in Europe, India, Hong Kong, New York, Russia and the UAE. His work is part of both private and public collections, such as the Amhem Museum, the Buta Foundation, the Seattle Art Museum and the Yarat Contemporary Art Centre.

Art Radar caught up with Ahmed to learn more about his creative process, what makes the Azerbaijani contemporary art scene unusual, and why he considers himself more of an “explorer” than an artist.

Creating outside of the box

I’ve read that you feel you are “not an artist but an explorer”. Please elaborate on this comment.

To me, an artist is someone who sees the tangible results of his/her ideas reflected in their artwork. You may think that I do the same, but no! The final result itself doesn’t interest me that much. The reality of my art is that it is still very much in the process of research and discovery. I create it and it’s just a part of the global system of art fairs and people’s opinions about each piece.

I’m an explorer, so I’m much more interested in what I unearth through my research. My artworks are just my reports that reflect various periods of my investigations.

Faig Ahmed, 'Gravity and Antigravity' installation (in process), 2014, handmade wool carpet, 120 x 250 cm. Photograph by Rauf Askyarov.

Faig Ahmed, ‘Gravity and Antigravity’ installation (in process), 2014, handmade wool carpet, 120 x 250 cm. Photograph by Rauf Askyarov.

In 2014, you travelled to India for the first time. Regarding this journey, you said it was “a dream come true”. 

Throughout my life, India has had a great impact on me. I was dreaming about it even as a child. When I was ten, I found a yoga book that mesmerised me. I started practicing and it naturally brought me to Osho and other beautiful practices and philosophies. I even started learning Sanskrit. I dreamed of travelling to India and finding a guru.

So when I eventually travelled there, I thought I’d be prepared, but I was not. India is a place that influences all of your senses at the same time. I mean, if something is dirty, it’s really dirty. If the food is good, then it’s absolutely divine. This happens with everything. I had this experience on my own and had difficulties sharing these feelings with my friends when I returned home. Then, I started observing myself and found out that my best friend (just like when I was ten) is myself. I had to live twenty more years to understand that. Now, I’m ten again and I’m happy.

Has your recent interest in Indian embroidery influenced your artwork? How? 

In Delhi, I started doing my experimental artwork with Indian embroidery and I met two people who have really helped me with that – Valeria Corvo and Mala Shukla. Before my trip to India, all my artistic expression was directed outwards. After I went through the process of learning Indian embroidery, my expression is now internal and directed into myself.

Faig Ahmed. Photograph by Fakhriyya Mammadova.

Faig Ahmed. Photograph by Fakhriyya Mammadova.

How does one make a “liquid” carpet? Do you use local artisans for your work or do all of the work yourself?

I work with a group. Usually there are twenty to 25 people involved in the process. This group experience gives my work vitality and I’m the spark that ignites it.

When I decide to begin a piece, I first talk to the carpet makers and then edit and correct their work alongside my own sketch. Next, my artwork is transferred onto engineering paper. After these preparations, the weaving process begins. As a rule, the process itself is not that easy, and I have to visit the workshop often and make corrections all along the way.

Each work needs a different type of research. For a carpet from the “Fluid Forms” show, for example, I was pouring paint onto the walls to see how different colours blend into each other and flow. For the Geometric series of carpets, I was cutting different shapes from paper to place over the surfaces to see what kinds of shades they create.

Faig Ahmed, 'Rapture', 2010, handmade wool carpet, 100 x 150 cm. Photograph by Fakhriyya Mammadova.

Faig Ahmed, ‘Rapture’, 2010, handmade wool carpet, 100 x 150 cm. Photograph by Fakhriyya Mammadova.

Being held hostage by tradition

Tell us the story behind the carpet upcycled for the Recycled Tradition piece. Have you had the opportunity to send an image of the piece to the woman who sold the carpet to you? If so, what was her reaction? 

The idea of this artwork was born from the depth of the “transformed carpets” concept. Initially, I had done research analysing recycled culture. It was all very impersonal. I started to work four months before production to find the right carpet. What I needed was a 150 to 200-year-old carpet to be cut into the form of a “recycled” symbol.

I was shown different options, but there was only one that caught my attention. I wanted to start cutting it immediately after leaving the workshop, but the carpet seller asked me if I wanted to hear the story of the carpet first. He told me that there are gypsies who buy and resell old carpets. They suggested visiting an old woman in south Azerbaijan who had a beautiful old carpet in perfect condition. Initially, this woman rejected selling it, because she had inherited this carpet from her grandmother and it was the only thing she had taken with her from her father’s house when she got married many years ago. This was a tradition in the old days in Azerbaijan.

This woman couldn’t take anything from her home, because her parents were against her marriage and only her grandmother had supported her, giving her this carpet and helping her run away with her lover. After several visits and after she knew the carpet would be sold to an artist, she agreed to sell it.

I also discovered that this carpet was a Garabakh carpet, which is in another part of Azerbaijan. This lady can’t go there anymore, because this territory is occupied by Armenia and there are armed clashes between the two countries. So, when I took a cutting knife to cut the carpet, I couldn’t do it. Suddenly, I realised that I’m also a hostage of tradition! This story’s impact on me was so huge that I couldn’t destroy this carpet with my own hands.

I then passed it to an art production company to prepare it for me and didn’t tell them how old it was. After the work was done and Recycled Tradition was sent to Holland for the exhibition, I tried to find this lady. She had moved to another city, and that happened all of a sudden. I wanted to talk to her. I spoke to her on the telephone before it was processed and she told me that she wanted to see the result. Maybe she saw the artwork and doesn’t want to talk to me anymore?

Faig Ahmed, 'Recycled', 2014, handmade wool carpet, 140 x 140 cm.Photograph by Fakhriyya Mammadova.

Faig Ahmed, ‘Recycled’, 2014, handmade wool carpet, 140 x 140 cm.Photograph by Fakhriyya Mammadova.

What did it teach you about being a “hostage to tradition”?

I love being a hostage, because it’s a quiz and you have to take it to set yourself free. I think we are never completely free anyway, but you should exactly know where your own cage ends.

Please tell us a bit about your Embroidery Space installation. What were some of the challenges that you experienced with this installation? Were there any surprises?

Maybe it’s my most interesting artwork, because it can be exactly divided into parts. The first part is totally traditional regarding the rules of composition. Usually my assistants make this part. The second, or freestyle section, is the most spontaneous and unexpected, because I always decide how to do it on-site.

I did this installation in Dubai in 2014 and decided to connect two buildings with threads. It was so difficult to get the permit for that! Eventually we got permission, on the condition that the work could only be done after nine o’clock at night. I had to drink energy drinks to stay up day and night!

The result was amazing: threads were connecting buildings from the roofs to the balconies and back. All the people who worked in this area were totally unprepared for this change in their environment. It was so beautiful until the wind started blowing and the rain started falling – along with the threads.

Faig Ahmed, 'Out', 2014, handmade embroidery silk, gold tread on silk fabric, 100 x 250cm. Image courtesy the artist.

Faig Ahmed, ‘Out’, 2014, handmade embroidery silk, gold thread on silk fabric, 100 x 250 cm. Image courtesy the artist.

What is the inspiration behind the combination of traditional Islamic forms and patterns within your contemporary structures?

Islamic shapes have been developed over many hundreds of years and have reached an apogee of ornament and geometry. Because of this tradition, it’s a huge responsibility to work with such difficult and complex patterns and try to pull a new form out of there.

Brave new world

How would you explain the current Azerbaijani art scene to someone who is new to the country and its creative traditions?

Contemporary art in Azerbaijan is not new, but it is developing and still very fresh. After the collapse of the USSR in the 1990s, most local artists were using abstract and Western art as a model. Today, they try to find their way by looking back to traditional art forms and techniques. Perhaps I have in some small way helped with this transition, as I have curated shows with several young local artists in the recent past.

I think it’s difficult to define the face of contemporary art in Azerbaijan. I like that there are lots of young artists who explore and research the culture and history of our country, in both ancient and contemporary times. There are enormous amounts of resources and energy there.

Faig Ahmed, 'Gravity and Antigravity' installation from the "Exploring Inward" exhibition at Louise Blouin Foundation, 2014, handmade wool carpet, 120 x 250 cm. Photograph by Nathan Browning.

Faig Ahmed, ‘Gravity and Antigravity’ installation from the “Exploring Inward” exhibition at Louise Blouin Foundation, 2014, handmade wool carpet, 120 x 250 cm. Photograph by Nathan Browning.

Is life in contemporary Azerbaijan changing? As an artist, do you feel that it is important to embrace the past, while breaking away from some of the possibly outdated traditions and stereotypes?

You can’t move forward without leaving some parts of tradition and culture behind, but it’s tradition that observes and examines a country.

Azerbaijanis are very flexible. We have been conquered many times and have been a part of different empires, spoken many languages and changed alphabets many times – from Farsi to Arabic, Cyrillic and Latin. At the same time, the majority of the people use traditional elements of home decoration – like carpets – to connect with some kind of cultural ground under their feet.

It’s a delicate balance. You have to be sensitive to changes while keeping your identity and remembering your roots.

Faig Ahmed, "Gravity and Antigravity" installation (detail) from "Exploring Inward" exhibition at Louise Blouin Foundation, 2014, handmade wool carpet, 120 x 250 cm. Photograph by Nathan Browning.

Faig Ahmed, “Gravity and Antigravity” installation (detail) from “Exploring Inward” exhibition at Louise Blouin Foundation, 2014, handmade wool carpet, 120 x 250 cm. Photograph by Nathan Browning.

Any interesting stories on how the audience reacts to your work both inside Azerbaijan and abroad?

I like the reaction of kids. They have the most honest and transparent reactions to my art. During one of exhibitions, a boy ten or eleven years old approached my Flood of Yellow Weight carpet and asked his mother if the boy who stained the carpet was punished like he was! I asked the mother if she punished her son for staining the carpet and she answered that she did. I told her that my parents didn’t punish me for doing so, and maybe that’s the reason why I dare to do all these manipulations with the carpets and maybe she has to give him more freedom.

Faig Ahmed, 'Shift', 2014, handmade wool rug with natural colours and threads, stainless steel, 170 x 110 x 100cm. Image courtesy the artist.

Faig Ahmed, ‘Shift’, 2014, handmade wool rug with natural colours and threads, stainless steel, 170 x 110 x 100 cm. Image courtesy the artist.

Are there any upcoming shows, exhibitions and biennales where your work is being shown in the next six months?

I will have a solo show in Rome at the Montoro 12 Contemporary Art Gallery in March/April, and in New Delhi in November. I’m also doing an installation during Art Dubai at the Dubai International Financial Centre and am included in a group show at the YARAT Contemporary Art Centre in March. In addition, I am planning solo shows in London and New York this year.

Lisa Pollman

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Related Topics: art and the community, Azerbaijani artists, carpet art, classic influences in contemporary art, textiles, interviews

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Armory Focus 2015: Art from the Middle East, North Africa and the Mediterranean – in pictures



Armory Focus 2015 brings together art from the Middle East, North Africa and the Mediterranean.

The Armory Show, the leading contemporary and modern art fair in New York, has a curated section dedicated to art from a specific region each year. The 2015 Focus section features established and emerging artists from the Middle East, North Africa and the Mediterranean.

Mona Hatoum, 'Turbulence (black)', 2014, glass marbles, 3 x 250 cm diameter. Presented by Alexander and Bonin. Photo: George Darrell. © Mona Hatoum

Mona Hatoum, ‘Turbulence (black)’, 2014, (detail), glass marbles, 3 x 250 cm diameter. Presented by Alexander and Bonin. Photo: George Darrell. © Mona Hatoum

Armory Focus is a curated section of The Armory Show (5 to 8 March 2015), held at Pier 94 in New York. While in 2014, Focus was dedicated to China, the sixth edition will display art from MENAM (Middle East, North Africa and the Mediterranean) countries.

Focus: MENAM includes a selection of fifteen gallery presentations from across the globe, as well as not-for-profit institutions, site-specific projects and a dedicated symposium. Armory Focus 2015 is curated by Omar Kholeif, curator at the Whitechapel Gallery, London.

Jumana Manna, 'Menace of Origins', 2014, installation view, Sculpture Center, "Menace of Origins", 2014. Presented by CRG Gallery. Photo by Jason Mandella. Image courtesy CRG Gallery.

Jumana Manna, ‘Menace of Origins’, 2014, installation view, Sculpture Center, “Menace of Origins”, 2014. Presented by CRG Gallery. Photo by Jason Mandella. Image courtesy CRG Gallery.

The 2015 Lead Partners are Art Jameel and Edge of Arabia, who will present the “CULTURUNNERS” project and hosting artistic collaborations and conversations to connect cultural territories between the United States and MENAM regions.

A core component of Edge of Arabia’s US tour – in partnership with Art Jameel and affiliated with MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology – CULTURUNNERS is “an artistic expedition in search of empathy across borders”. It is situated in a mobile artist studio in the form of a modified RV, using custom-built artistic technologies to map, archive and broadcast stories and voices from the Focus section of the fair and related communities across New York.

Art Radar brings you some highlights from five of this year’s Focus galleries.

Nil Yalter, 'Harem', 1979, video, 45 min. Presented by Galerist. Image courtesy the artist and Galerist.

Nil Yalter, ‘Harem’, 1979, video, 45 min. Presented by Galerist. Image courtesy the artist and Galerist.

Agial Art Gallery

Writer and critic Ari Akkermans told Art Radar that at the core of the gallery’s presentation is

the preoccupation, at the center of contemporary practices in Lebanon, with division (political and emotional, doubling of the self, geographical fissures) and the architecture of places that either have gone missing or have been destroyed.

The works on show respond to ideas of re-building and remembering conflict “in an age of re-construction against the background of globalisation and immigration.”

Saloua Raouda Choucair, 'Dual', 1988-1990, aluminium, 24 x 14 x 8.5 cm. Image courtesy Agial Art Gallery.

Saloua Raouda Choucair, ‘Dual’, 1988-1990, aluminium, 24 x 14 x 8.5 cm. Image courtesy Agial Art Gallery.

The pieces by Saloua Raouda Choucair (b. 1916), one of the early pioneers of Abstraction in the Arab world, represent a very specific period towards the end of the Lebanese Civil War, when Choucair experienced Beirut as divided between East and West, along the war’s green line. This division is then formally translated to the pieces as a metaphor for chaos.

TANBAK, 'In Transit', 2015, mixed media, 120 x 120 cm. Image courtesy Agial Art Gallery.

TANBAK, ‘In Transit’, 2015, mixed media, 120 x 120 cm. Image courtesy Agial Art Gallery.

The large work by self-taught artist Tanbak (b. 1954) is part of her 2014 monochrome exhibition “In Transit”, where she attempted, through materials found in Beirut, to map out from visual and emotional memory the Armenian refugee camps in north-east Beirut in the 1960s.

Saba Innab, from the series "On Landscapes of Temporariness", 2015, mixed media on panel, 80 x 150 cm. Image courtesy Agial Art Gallery.

Saba Innab, from the series “On Landscapes of Temporariness”, 2015, mixed media on panel, 80 x 150 cm. Image courtesy Agial Art Gallery.

A Palestinian born in Kuwait and living between Amman and Beirut, Saba Innab (b. 1980) is drawn to displacement as her central theme. Innab questions the nature of space and dwelling in contemporary body politics, finding that de-territorialisation and displacement have become part of the architecture and logic of modernity itself.

Adrian Paci, ‘I suonatory del bosco’, 2014, triptych, watercolour on paper mounted on canvas, 18.5 x 24.4 cm each. Image ourtesy the artist and Kalfayan Galleries, Athens – Thessaloniki.

Adrian Paci, ‘I suonatory del bosco’, 2014, triptych, watercolour on paper mounted on canvas, 18.5 x 24.4 cm each. Image ourtesy the artist and Kalfayan Galleries, Athens – Thessaloniki.

Kalfayan Galleries

Multimedia Albanian artist Adrian Paci (b. 1969) will present, among other works, a triptych entitled I suonatory del bosco, based on frames from Sergei Parajanov’s 1965 film Shadows of forgotten Ancestors. Paci selects images from videos or films not to describe their context, but rather to conceal it, creating a zone of ambiguity and giving an independent life to images.

Hrair Sarkissian, 'Execution Squares', 2008, archival inkjet print, 60.5 x 77.4 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Kalfayan Galleries, Athens – Thessaloniki.

Hrair Sarkissian, ‘Execution Squares’, 2008, archival inkjet print, 60.5 x 77.4 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Kalfayan Galleries, Athens – Thessaloniki.

Syrian photographer Hrair Sarkissian (b. 1974), winner of the Abraaj Group Art Prize 2013, will bring his “Execution Squares” series (2008), depicting urban life around squares that are also used for public executions in three Syrian cities – Aleppo, Lattakia and Damascus. Kalfayan Galleries explains the work:

The images conceal the fragile irony that exists between the beauty and constancy of the physical environment and the political and social realities that they obscure.

Panos Tsagaris, 'June 30th 2011', 2014, gold leaf on archival inkjet print, 150 x 90 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Kalfayan Galleries, Athens – Thessaloniki.

Panos Tsagaris, ‘June 30th 2011′, 2014, gold leaf on archival inkjet print, 150 x 90 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Kalfayan Galleries, Athens – Thessaloniki.

Greek artist Panos Tsagaris’ (b. 1979) works are based on a series of New York Times newspaper covers that the artist has been collecting since 2010, which feature the economic crisis and ensuing social repercussions in Greece.

Juxtaposing the transformations in Greece in the past few years with the work of an alchemist, Tsagaris worked with newspaper, lead and gold to visualise the alchemical transformation from undeveloped consciousness (lead) into fully developed consciousness (gold).

Raed Yassin, 'Ruins In Space', 2014, (detail), archival inkjet print, text, sound, speaker, record cover, Vinyl record, dimensions variable. Image courtesy the artist and Kalfayan Galleries, Athens – Thessaloniki.

Raed Yassin, ‘Ruins in Space’, 2014, (detail), archival inkjet print, text, sound, speaker, record cover, Vinyl record, dimensions variable. Image courtesy the artist and Kalfayan Galleries, Athens – Thessaloniki.

Lebanese Raed Yassin’s (b. 1979) Ruins in Space is a mixed-media installation which presents a fictional narrative based on real life material. The work centers around the imagined encounter of two legendary singers, Oum Kulthoum and Lee Nan‐Young, and at its core lies Oum Kulthoum’s popular song “Al-Atlal” (The Ruins). The project is about rewriting musical history and challenging the fragile balance between fiction and historical truth through music’s power to transcend cultural and temporal barriers.

Wafaa Bilal, 'Canto III', 2015, rendering. Image courtesy Lawrie Shabibi.

Wafaa Bilal, ‘Canto III’, 2015, rendering. Image courtesy Lawrie Shabibi.

Lawrie Shabibi

Canto III is a solo project by New York based Iraqi-American artist Wafaa Bilal, directly inspired by a tribute – which never took place – that the members of the Ba’ath party in Iraq planned in honour of Saddam Hussein at the height of his power: to propel a golden statue in his likeness into space to orbit Earth for all eternity.

The work highlights the extremes that the personality cult of Hussain reached before his downfall. Bilal says that “this project is intended as an inquiry into homelands and frontiers.”

Susan Hefuna, 'Cairotraces', 2014, palmwood, string, dimensions variable. Image courtesy Pi Artworks London.

Susan Hefuna, ‘Cairotraces’, 2014, palmwood, string, dimensions variable. Image courtesy Pi Artworks London.

Pi Artworks London

Egyptian artist Susan Hefuna’s (b. 1962) work is part of a new series shown at her recent solo exhibition in London, “Cairotraces” (2014). The palmwood and bronze structures, as well as the drawings, are all influenced by the streets of the Egyptian capital – a reoccurring element within her oeuvre.

Susan Hefuna, 'Cairotrace', 2014, watercolor on paper, 43 x 35 cm. Image courtesy Pi Artworks London.

Susan Hefuna, ‘Cairotraces’, 2014, watercolour on paper, 43 x 35 cm. Image courtesy Pi Artworks London.

Fayçal Baghriche, 'Souvenir', 2012, illuminated terrestrial globe, motor, 75 x 40 x 40 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Taymour Grahne Gallery, New York.

Fayçal Baghriche, ‘Souvenir’, 2012, illuminated terrestrial globe, motor, 75 x 40 x 40 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Taymour Grahne Gallery, New York.

Taymour Grahne Gallery

Paris-based Algerian Fayçal Baghriche (b. 1972) grew up between Arab and Western culture, and the blurring of distinct cultural lenses lies at the core of his practice. Souvenir is a terrestrial globe that turns so fast it makes it impossible to distinguish continents or the demarcations that separate them from the oceans.

Lamia Joreige, 'Beirut, Autopsy of a City, Chapter 2', 2010, 16 minute silent, black and white video. Image courtesy the artist and Taymour Grahne Gallery, New York.

Lamia Joreige, ‘Beirut, Autopsy of a City, Chapter 2′, 2010, 16 minute silent, black and white video. Image courtesy the artist and Taymour Grahne Gallery, New York.

Lamia Joreige’s (b. 1972) video on show, Beirut, Autopsy of a City, Chapter 2, is part of her project that, in her own words, “proposes possible reconciliations between the task of the archaeologist and that of the poet, between modern images and ancient texts.”

The multi-layered image of a wide view of the harbour is an amalgam of different photographs taken at various times, each referring to a specific moment of history. This fictive representation of Beirut embodies simultaneously different periods of history – it is neither a past nor a present image, yet one reflecting a time that is non-linear.

C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia

650

Related Topics: Art fairsEgyptian artists, Iraqi artists, Lebanese artists, Palestinian artists, Syrian artistsEuropean artists, Emerging artistsCurators, Abstract Art, Installation, VideoMemory, Migration, War, Middle East, New York

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African photography via Instagram – 4 accounts to follow



What is the African story today, and who is qualified to tell it? Discover contemporary Africa via 4 Instagram accounts.

Art Radar handpicks four fascinating Instagram accounts that tell the African story in honest, unique ways. 

Screenshot from the Instagram account of @everydayafrica. Photo by Edward Echwalu @edward_echwalu.

Screenshot from the Instagram account of @everydayafrica. Photo by Edward Echwalu @edward_echwalu.

Everyday Africa | @everydayafrica

The Everyday Africa Project is an increasingly acclaimed, ever-growing image archive of photographs documenting everyday life in Africa. Featuring photographers and photojournalists who contribute images shot on mobile phones, the project is

an attempt to re-direct focus toward a more accurate understanding of what the majority of Africans experience on a day-to-day basis [...] the project is a response to the common media portrayal of the African continent as a place consumed by war, poverty, and disease.

Screenshot from the Instagram account of @everydayafrica. Photo by Tina Remiz @tinaremiz.

Screenshot from the Instagram account of @everydayafrica. Photo by Tina Remiz @tinaremiz.

The project was founded in 2012 by American photojournalist Peter DiCampo and writer Austin Merrill. In an article for the Pulitzer Center, DiCampo described the inspiration behind the project:

Often my work as a photojournalist seems surprisingly, even dangerously, predetermined. We know the story we have been sent to cover, and we edit ourselves to tell that story even as we shoot [...] And so it seemed that the other photos I was making simultaneously – on a silly phone with a silly “app” – began to feel more honest in their experiential nature [...] I notice the man on the elevator, the symmetry of the men around him and their reflections, the row of lights above his head. The picture is interesting in its mundane-ness, and therein lies the truth.

Today, the archive features a number of African photographers, including Nana Kofi Acquah, Emeka Okereke and Andrew Esiebo. DiCampo told Africa is a Country that it is important for both Africans and non-Africans to tell African stories:

I’m of the opinion that any culture should be examined both internally and externally. There are, of course, many aspects of a culture that outsiders can’t access or understand fully. On the flip side, it’s easy for people within a culture to put blinders on when examining themselves, whereas an outsider brings a different critical view.

Screenshot from the Instagram account of @africashowboy. Image courtesy Nana Kofi Acquah.

Screenshot from the Instagram account of @africashowboy. Image courtesy Nana Kofi Acquah.

Nana Kofi Acquah | @africashowboy

Acclaimed Ghanaian photographer Nana Kofi Acquah examines Africa internally and tells African stories. He says on his website:

My grandmother had a pub where wayfarers, fishermen, their wives, officers and anybody who had trouble or was looking for a little happiness would come, buy tots of the local gin, “akpeteshie” and start pouring their souls out. I would crawl under tables, eavesdropping and soaking it all in [...] I grew up on stories. Now, I am a storyteller who uses the camera as his favourite medium.

Screenshot from the Instagram account of @africashowboy. Image courtesy Nana Kofi Acquah.

Screenshot from the Instagram account of @africashowboy. Image courtesy Nana Kofi Acquah.

A self-declared male feminist, Acquah told BBC Africa that his mission was to change the narrative around African women where they are often portrayed as victims of circumstance”. Acquah is a blogger and a poet in addition to being a photographer, and his Instagram account vividly documents his travels around Africa, frequently accompanied by anecdotes and poetry. 

Since giving up his successful career in advertising to pursue photography full time, Acquah has worked for corporates, NGOs and magazines in Cameroon, Uganda, Angola, Nigeria, Mali, Senegal, Gambia, Cote D’Ivoire, Liberia and Ghana. His work has been exhibited in Europe, Africa and America.

Screenshot from the Instagram account of @andrewesiebo. Image courtesy Andrew Esiebo.

Screenshot from the Instagram account of @andrewesiebo. Image courtesy Andrew Esiebo.

Andrew Esiebo | @andrewesiebo

Internationally celebrated Nigerian photographer Andrew Esiebo began his career documenting the rapid development of urban Nigeria. Due to complex, layered works that tackled social issues such as sexuality, gender politics and immigration, Esiebo rapidly gained international recognition. In an interview with Roads and Kingdoms Esiebo said:

Up until now, the history of our continent has been told by non-Africans. Now that we have those tools and those skills, I feel a responsibility to fill in that gap.

Screenshot from the Instagram account of @andrewesiebo. Image courtesy Andrew Esiebo.

Screenshot from the Instagram account of @andrewesiebo. Image courtesy Andrew Esiebo.

In addition to being published in various books, magazines and websites, Esiebo’s works have been exhibited at the Havana and Sao Paulo biennials, the Guangzhou Triennial in Beijing, the Chobi Mela V Photo Festival in Bangladesh, the Noorderlitch Photo Festival in The Netherlands, African Photography Encounters in Mali and the Lagos Photo Festival, among others.

Over time, Esiebo’s work has evolved beyond photography towards video and multimedia. The artist has completed a number of prestigious artistic residencies and is the initiator and co-organiser of “My Eye, My World”, a participatory photography workshop for socially deprived or vulnerable children in Nigeria.

Screenshot from the Instagram account of @glennagordon. Image courtesy Glenna Gordon.

Screenshot from the Instagram account of @glennagordon. Image courtesy Glenna Gordon.

Glenna Gordon | @glennagordon

American documentary photographer Glenna Gordon first visited Africa in 2006 after completing her Masters in print journalism. She soon moved to Uganda to work as a writer and reporter, but it wasn’t until 2010 that she began to focus on photography.

Screenshot from the Instagram account of @glennagordon. Image courtesy Glenna Gordon.

Screenshot from the Instagram account of @glennagordon. Image courtesy Glenna Gordon.

Today, Gordon’s work is a multi-faceted combination of personal projects and high-profile assignments in Africa and elsewhere. From Nigerian weddings to the hostages of ISIS and Al Qaeda, Gordon photographs some of the biggest stories in the news whilst documenting small, touching moments in everyday Africa. She says on her website:

Photography is a tool to tell specific stories about specific places. It is a way to visually explore and explain the world around me. It is a means of learning that our heroes are flawed and our enemies are human.

Gordon’s images have received many awards, and she has been commissioned by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, Le Monde, among others. Her documentary projects have been featured on the Lens, Proof and Lightbox.

Michele Chan

651

Related Topics: African artists, photography, art and the internet, art and the community

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What is… photosculpture? Art Radar explains



As part of our “What is…?” series, Art Radar sheds light on the medium of photosculpture.

Art Radar brings you a short history of photosculpture, and introduces a selection of contemporary Asian artists working with the medium in its various manifestations.

Rashi Rana, 'Desperately Seeking Paradise II', 2010 – 11, UV print on aluminium and stainless steel, 386.4 x 386.4 x 332.1 cm. Tiroche DeLeon collection & Art Vantage Ltd. Image courtesy Cornerhouse Manchester/Flickr.

Rashid Rana, ‘Desperately Seeking Paradise II’, 2010 – 11, UV print on aluminium and stainless steel, 386.4 x 386.4 x 332.1 cm. Tiroche DeLeon collection & Art Vantage Ltd. Image courtesy Cornerhouse Manchester/Flickr.

What is photosculpture?

Photoscultpure: An introduction

Photosculpture (photo + sculpture), etymologically, is the combination of photographs and sculpture. In an early nineteenth century Webster’s Dictionary (published 1913) definition, it was simply defined as:

A process in which, by means of a number of photographs simultaneously taken from different points of view on the same level, rough models of the figure or bust of a person or animal may be made with great expedition.

In a contemporary version of the Merriam Webster Dictionary, the definition has been slightly updated:

a method of sculpture whereby one or more cameras are used to produce photographs that are processed and combined in one of various ways to make either a bas-relief or a solid sculpture.

Both entries limit the definition of photosculpture to a ‘classical’ one, which could be in some ways linked to photorealism, and described as a solid reproduction of people, animals and objects with the aid of photography.

Justine Khamara, 'rotational affinity', 2013, hand cut colour photograph, 80 x 114 cm. Photographer: John Brash. Image courtesy the artist.

Justine Khamara, ‘rotational affinity’, 2013, hand cut colour photograph, 80 x 114 cm. Photographer: John Brash. Image courtesy the artist.

In contemporary artistic practices, the term photosculpture has evolved to include works of art that utilise photography as the primary medium, albeit not in its pure, two-dimensional printed format. Photosculptures combine photography – or photographic prints and methods – with a sculptural approach, be it to recreate real objects and forms in three dimensions or to challenge, expand and push the boundaries of the photographic medium through a variety of other techniques and media.

Dinh Q. Lê, 'The Last of the Alchemists', 2013, roll of chemical colour photographic paper inside silver lacquer box, 20.32 X 137.16 X 24.13 cm. Image courtesy the artist and P.P.O.W Gallery, New York.

Dinh Q. Lê, ‘The Last of the Alchemists’, 2013, roll of chemical colour photographic paper inside silver lacquer box, 20.32 X 137.16 X 24.13 cm. Image courtesy the artist and P.P.O.W Gallery, New York.

Photosculpture: A brief history of origins

When searching for a history of photosculpture, one of the first pieces of historical information to be found is the French artist, photographer and sculptor François Willème and his photosculpture invention of 1859. In his essay “Sculpture as the Sum of Its Profiles: François Willème and Photosculpture in France, 1859-1868″ (The Art Bulletin, 62.4, 1980: 617-630), historian Robert A. Sobieszek defined photosculpture thus:

A photo-sculpture is the solid reproduction of persons, animals, and things, obtained through a process of 3D scanning and 3D printing. The results are small statues that represent the portrayed entity.

Carl Cheng, 'Sculpture for Stereo Viewers', 1968, film, molded plastic, wood, Plexiglass, 41.9 x 45.72 x 20.32 cm. © Carl Cheng. Photo: Robert Wedemeyer. Image courtesy Cherry and Martin.

Carl Cheng, ‘Sculpture for Stereo Viewers’, 1968, film, molded plastic, wood, Plexiglass, 41.9 x 45.72 x 20.32 cm. © Carl Cheng. Photo: Robert Wedemeyer. Image courtesy Cherry and Martin.

Willème’s device involved a rotating platform divided into 24 numbered sections, onto which the model posed to be photographed by 24 cameras, each spaced at 15 degrees apart in a sphere around the platform. The resulting images would then be projected onto the mould at its various angles in order to reproduce a complete, realistic portrait of the subject. This process can be directly related to contemporary photosculpture in its first hybridisation of the medium of photography, although the latter is not visible in the final result.

Osang Gwon, 'Elephant Parade', installation view at Singapore Art Museum, 2011. Image courtesy Choo Yut Shing/Flickr.

Osang Gwon, ‘Elephant Parade’, installation view at Singapore Art Museum, 2011. Image courtesy Choo Yut Shing/Flickr.

Photosculpture: A brief history of contemporary practice

In contemporary times, more than a century after Willème’s invention and into the 1960s and 1970s, photosculpture saw its real emergence in art. In an era of experimentation with a variety of media, and of predilection for minimal and conceptual approaches, photography’s status as ephemera was being put into question. As it entered the realm of fine art, artists were challenging the medium and its potentialities through the creation of hybrid forms of photography.

Jaishri Abichandani , 'Manipura chakra', 2001, mixed media, dimensions variable. Image courtesy the artist.

Jaishri Abichandani , ‘Manipura chakra’, 2001, mixed media, dimensions variable. Image courtesy the artist.

A landmark exhibition held at New York’s MoMA in 1970, entitled “Photography into Sculpture”, brought together the work of 23 American and Canadian artists who were experimenting with the photographic medium in a variety of combinations and forms. Through techniques that reflected “modern technological culture”, the artists created a vast array of hybrid works, including:

  • contour vacuum-moulded plastic containers for photographs and film transparencies
  • film positives layered in lucite constructions of varying depths seen by reflected or transmitted light
  • photosensitised contour-moulded cloth sculptures
  • life-size figurative compositions constructed from hundreds of glass transparencies with multidimensional views
  • fabricated pictorial or illusionistic boxed environments
  • participation puzzles
  • topographic landscapes contoured by vacuum process
  • lucite cubes of photographs
  • three-dimensional wall constructions
  • reductive or minimal sculptures of multiple pictorial boxes
  • light and negative constructions
Michael De Courcy, 'Untitled', 1970 / 2011, 100 Photoserigraph and corrugated cardboard boxes, dimensions variable. © Michael De Courcy. Photo: Robert Wedemeyer. Image courtesy Cherry and Martin.

Michael De Courcy, ‘Untitled’, 1970 / 2011, 100 Photoserigraph and corrugated cardboard boxes, dimensions variable. © Michael De Courcy. Photo: Robert Wedemeyer. Image courtesy Cherry and Martin.

As MoMA’s exhibition director and Curator of Photography Peter C. Bunnell put it in the seventies, photosculpture embraces

concerns beyond those of the traditional print, or what may be termed ‘flat work’, and in so doing seeks to engender a heightened realisation that art in photography has to do with interpretation and craftsmanship rather than mere record making.

Bunnell went on to say that these “photographers/sculptors” were looking for

new intricacy of meaning analogous to the complexity of our senses. They are moving from internal meaning or iconography – of sex, the environment and war – to a visual duality in which the materials are also incorporated as content and at the same time are used as a way of conceiving actual space.

Osang Gwon, 'Red Sun', installation view at Arario Gallery, Seoul, 2006. Image courtesy Régine Debatty/Flickr.

Osang Gwon, ‘Red Sun’, installation view at Arario Gallery, Seoul, 2006. Image courtesy Régine Debatty/Flickr.

Photosculpture: Contemporary manifestations

Among the artists in the MoMA exhibition was ‘paraphotographer’ Robert Heinecken (1931 – 2006), whose work made use of photographic images sourced from TV, magazines, ads and other media to create textured compositions that looked like today’s digitally manipulated photographs. He was one of the pioneers in the postwar era to work with photography, beside or beyond traditional notions of the medium.

Nils Nova, 'Empty Center', 2009, installation view at the Venice Biennale 2009. Image courtesy Julian Stallabrass/Flickr.

Nils Nova, ‘Empty Center’, 2009, installation view at the Venice Biennale 2009. Image courtesy Julian Stallabrass/Flickr.

More recently, Brooklyn-based German experimental artist Oliver Herring creates the more ‘traditional’ and literal kind of photosculptures, with Styrofoam bases covered in photographs taken from a variety of angles to portray his subjects realistically.

Bulgarian Missirkov Bogdanov uses photography to bring images into three dimensions, such as in The Unloading (2009) where he pastes digital prints onto PVC boards, or Cvetana Maneva (2004), in which an installation of portraits of the Bulgarian actress on transparent paper plays with light, reflections and shadows in the exhibition room. American Nils Nova manipulates surroundings with large-scale photographic installations that create the illusion of spatial depth and play with our perception of space.

Oliver Herring, 'Cheryl', 2007, digital C-prints, museum board, foam core, polystyrene, 63 x 26 x 17 in. Image courtesy the artist.

Oliver Herring, ‘Cheryl’, 2007, digital C-prints, museum board, foam core, polystyrene, 63 x 26 x 17 in. Image courtesy the artist.

In recent years, a number of exhibitions have celebrated the evolution of photography and the creation of hybrid photographic works. It is interesting to highlight, as did an article on Artspace in 2014, that this is a key moment in the history of photography to be revisiting “the physical manifestations of photography” in an age of digitalisation.

Dinh Q. Lê, 'A Long Losing Struggle', 2014, C-print, Linen tape, 179.71 X 120.02 cm. Image courtesy the artist and P.P.O.W Gallery, New York.

Dinh Q. Lê, ‘A Long Losing Struggle’, 2014, C-print, Linen tape, 179.71 X 120.02 cm. Image courtesy the artist and P.P.O.W Gallery, New York.

Types of contemporary Photosculpture

Photosculpture takes a variety of forms, from collages and puzzles using photographs and other media, to sculptures, installations and weavings, among others.

1. Photoweavings

Photoweavings usually involve large-scale photographic prints cut out in thin strips, which are then woven together like textile threads or straw and bamboo baskets to make the final composition.

2. 3D Photosculptures

Three-dimensional sculptures, as seen above, use hundreds of photographs of the subject taken from various angles and combined together, usually on a base, to shape a realistic 3D representation.

Jaishri Abichandani, 'Bijli', 2006, mixed media 13.25 x 12 x 5.75 in, edition 1/3 + 1 AP. Installation view at Damstuhltrager, Williamsburg, 2006. Image courtesy Barry Hoggard/Flickr.

Jaishri Abichandani, ‘Bijli’, 2006, mixed media 13.25 x 12 x 5.75 in, edition 1/3 + 1 AP. Installation view at Damstuhltrager, Williamsburg, 2006. Image courtesy Barry Hoggard/Flickr.

3. Photosculptural collages and objects

Collages and other objects use a combination of photographic paper, prints and methods with other media and objects. For instance, a cut out photograph might be pasted together with a real object, an environment might be re-created in miniature with a combination of photographs and other things, and so forth. These works can be two- or three-dimensional.

4. Photosculptural installations

Installations using photographs take a variety of forms. The photograph is not merely a representation and a two-dimensional reference, traditionally mounted on a wall. Printed images are in this case engaged in a larger dialogue with the space and other components of a work of art. Photographs might be placed on the floor, such as in Carter Mull’s floor-based installation of scattered prints Connection (2011–12), or might be hanging in grapples from the ceiling in the middle of the exhibition space, among other arrangements.

Dinh Q. Lê, 'Untitled II', 2014, C-print, linen tape, 60 cm wide. Image courtesy the artist and P.P.O.W Gallery, New York.

Dinh Q. Lê, ‘Untitled II’, 2014, C-print, linen tape, 60 cm wide. Image courtesy the artist and P.P.O.W Gallery, New York.

Contemporary Photosculpture artists from Asia: a selection

Dinh Q. Le (Vietnam)

When working with photography, Dinh Q. Lê (b. 1968) pushes the boundaries of the medium through a variety of methods, including his uniquely mastered weaving technique borrowed directly from his traditional heritage: bamboo baskets. He cuts large-scale prints into thin strips and weaves them back together to create surrealistic images laden with meaning and references, which appear to be in flux or movement. Other experimental photographic works include digital prints presented as long scrolls and manipulated photographic paper.

Rashid Rana, 'Red Carpet 1', 
2007
, (detail), C-print on DIASEC
, 241.3 x 317.5 cm, edition 1/5. Collection of Pallak Seth
Image. Image courtesy of Gallery Chemould and Chattertjee & Lal, Mumbai.

Rashid Rana, ‘Red Carpet 1′, 
2007
, (detail), C-print on DIASEC
, 241.3 x 317.5 cm, edition 1/5. Collection of Pallak Seth
Image. Image courtesy of Gallery Chemould and Chattertjee & Lal, Mumbai.

Rashid Rana (Pakistan)

Rashid Rana’s (b. 1968) photographic works extend beyond the traditional parameters to embrace the myriad possibilities of composing environments, portraits and stories with images. Among his work are carpets made of tiny photographs, portraits that on closer inspection hide millions of tiny images, and Desperately Seeking Paradise II (2010), a cube skyscraper-like structure composed of thousands of photographs, among others.

In 2013-2014, Rana also created a photosculpture of a room at Tate nearly to-scale. The artist once shared with Hans-Ulrich Obrist:

It’s ironic though, that my fascination with formal concerns to do with two dimensionality are manifesting in three-dimensional works.

Osang Gwon, 'Bbd', installation view at The Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul. Image courtesy Paul Kelle/Flickr.

Osang Gwon, ‘Bbd’, installation view at The Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul. Image courtesy Paul Kelle/Flickr.

Osang Gwon (Korea)

Photosculpture is given literal existence in Osang Gwon’s (b. 1974) figurative works. Through a process of photographing his subjects from thousands of various angles, the artist records every detail from a 360-degree view. He then pastes the carefully collected and cut photographs onto a sculpted and carved plaster or Styrofoam mould, thus photographically recreating reality with its imperfections. Talking to Flavorwire, Gwon says:

The early works were more distorted than the ones I’m making now. That said, I’ve never aimed at making a totally realistic figure. It’s always going to turn out differently.

Jang Seung-Hyo (Korea)

Jang Seung-Hyo (b. 1971) transforms the two-dimensional into the three-dimensional in order to construct more scientific and spiritual notions of identity, through a photographic process that the artist compares to recollecting memories. In a statement, Jang says:

I record the world I perceive in the form of photograph or video and through the documented images I talk and express the stories of myself. The images are positioned in layers to each other forming an outcome that obscures the boundary between sculpture, painting, photography and installation. To me, the images become paint that draw, materials that compose sculptures and photographs that document my memories.

Justine Khamara, 'orbital spin trick', 2013, UV print, laser-cut plywood, 50 x 50 x 50 cm. Photographer: John Brash. Image courtesy the artist.

Justine Khamara, ‘orbital spin trick’, 2013, UV print, laser-cut plywood, 50 x 50 x 50 cm. Photographer: John Brash. Image courtesy the artist.

Justine Khamara (Australia)

Justine Khamara’s (b. 1971) practice investigates and intervenes with the photographic medium, giving life to works that extend photography into the three dimensions. She builds objects using multiple images, slices photographs so that they can be pulled out of walls, weaves and sculpts portraits, and manipulates prints into deconstructed images. Talking about her process, Khamara told Wired:

I loved the butteriness, the physicality of the photographic paper a quality that reveals itself when one slices into the surface of it with a very fine, sharp blade.

Myung Keun Koh (Korea)

Myung Keun Koh’s (b. 1964) photographic practice verges on the experimental, by giving form to a distorted yet realistic three-dimensional sphere. His works are complex constructions of photographic laminates that combine sculpture, architecture and photography. These “boxes”, as the artist calls them, give impressions of holographic landscapes, cityscapes or ‘aquariums’. The translucent photographic images mounted on each side of the box repeat, overlap and resonate through the constructed space.

Oliver Herring, '(Juvenile Bald Headed) Eagle' 2006, digital c-print, museum board, foam core, polystyrene, vitrene, 43 x 39 x 33 in. Image courtesy the artist.

Oliver Herring, ‘(Juvenile Bald Headed) Eagle’ 2006, digital c-print, museum board, foam core, polystyrene, vitrene, 43 x 39 x 33 in. Image courtesy the artist.

Yuki Kimura (Japan)

Yuki Kimura (b. 1971) integrates images and spaces, creating installations that include the viewer as an intermediary. She deconstructs the relationship between images and objects through the use of images as objects. Kimura creates staged sculptural arrangements using manipulated found images. In Interior 6L01–107T, Kimura plays with the concept and representation of ‘rooms’. She told Frieze in an interview:

I’ve always been concerned with exposing and disrupting the illusion presented by the photograph, and experimenting with the relationship between one photograph and another. The viewer is a necessary intermediary for something to be expressed within those relations. I’m also interested in how one experiences multiple images in the space of the gallery.

Rashid Rana, 'Red Carpet 1', 
2007, C-print on DIASEC, 241.3 x 317.5 cm, 
edition 1/5. 
Collection of Pallak Seth
Image. Image courtesy Gallery Chemould and Chattertjee & Lal, Mumbai.

Rashid Rana, ‘Red Carpet 1′, 
2007, C-print on DIASEC, 241.3 x 317.5 cm, 
edition 1/5. 
Collection of Pallak Seth
Image. Image courtesy Gallery Chemould and Chattertjee & Lal, Mumbai.

Zarina Bhimji (India/Uganda)

Zarina Bhimji (b. 1963) uses the photographic medium in a variety of ways, both traditionally and more experimentally, to give impressions of three-dimensionality to flat images. In her series Listen to the Room (1995) she created an installation of lightboxes with photographs of internal organs and human body parts that appeared like real specimen jars.

Jaishri Abichandani , 'Yantra', 2002, mixed media, dimensions variable. Image courtesy the artist.

Jaishri Abichandani , ‘Yantra’, 2002, mixed media, dimensions variable. Image courtesy the artist.

Jaishri Abichandani (India)

Jaishri Abichandani’s (b. 1969) work takes shape through a variety of media, including photography. In her early Mind’s Desire (2002), she took inspiration from the ancient South Asian form of Mandalas and Yantras as well as researched Tantra to create a series of photoscultpures. The double and triple exposed self-portraits are used to explore contemporary existential and social/political issues marrying an ancient symbolism to modern representation.

Navid Nuur (Iran)

Navid Nuur defies all categorisation by creating work in a variety of media, including neon, video, C-prints, paint and found objects. His use of photography tests the potentialities of the material and its hybridisation. Among his works are collages made of photographic prints and other materials and obejcts, such as Location (study)(2012-2013), and installations of Polaroids pinned to the wall. In Distant relations between lovers could fail by the lack of your true focus (2011), Nuur uses printed images and pages from art magazines and catalogues to comment on the relation between artists and public commercial art places.

Navid Nuur, ‘Distant relations between lovers could fail by the lack of your true focus’, 2011, installation view at Art Rotterdam 2011. Image courtesy Photo & Lux/Flickr.

Navid Nuur, ‘Distant relations between lovers could fail by the lack of your true focus’, 2011, installation view at Art Rotterdam 2011. Image courtesy Photo & Lux/Flickr.

Selected recent photosculpture exhibitions

Group

Rashi Rana, 'Desperately Seeking Paradise II', 2010 – 11, (detail), UV print on aluminium and stainless steel, 386.4 x 386.4 x 332.1 cm. Tiroche DeLeon collection & Art Vantage Ltd. Image courtesy Cornerhouse Manchester/Flickr.

Rashi Rana, ‘Desperately Seeking Paradise II’, 2010 – 11, (detail), UV print on aluminium and stainless steel, 386.4 x 386.4 x 332.1 cm. Tiroche DeLeon collection & Art Vantage Ltd. Image courtesy Cornerhouse Manchester/Flickr.

Solo

 C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia

653

Related Topics: Asian artists, photography, sculpture, installation, site-specific art, definitions

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Art Dubai’s technology-focused Global Art Forum 2015



Entitled “Download Update?”, the 9th edition of the Global Art Forum takes on the theme of technologies and their impact on art and culture.

Beginning for the first time in Kuwait, the innovative and influential Global Art Forum brings together directors from leading art dotcoms to debate how technologies have transformed the art world.

Cécile B. Evans, 'What a Feeling', 2014. Image courtesy the artist.

Cécile B. Evans, ‘What a Feeling’, 2014. Image courtesy the artist.

The 2015 Forum is co-directed by Turi Munthe and Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi, with Shumon Basar as Director-at-Large. Entitled “Download Update?”, the ninth edition of the Forum will take place first in Kuwait (14 – 15 March) and continue at Art Dubai (18 – 20 March).

Art and technology

Taking on the theme of technologies and their impact on the world of art, culture and beyond, the Forum’s dynamic agenda includes:

  • A debate on the online art market featuring directors from leading art dotcoms.
  • Presentations on the ways in which virtual museums in the Arab world and Latin America are reaching diasporic publics.
  • Conversations with artists working at the forefront of new technologies: a look back at the first communication technologies in the Gulf, from newspapers to radio and cinema.
  • A panel that asks whether we have “Too Much Artificial Intelligence”.

Initiating the dialogue, Shumon Basar says in the press release:

Perhaps nothing makes our lives feel better and worse at the same time than technology. [...] And while it’s humans who theoretically ‘invent’ technology, the truth is that it’s technology that ‘re-invents’ us humans constantly, in ways we aren’t aware of. ‘Download Update?’ is an opportunity to zoom out and take a screenshot of the world today, in all its high-definition glory and confusion.

Cécile B. Evans, 'Suddenly The Human Voice - La Voix Humaine', 2014. Image courtesy the artist.

Cécile B. Evans, ‘Suddenly The Human Voice – La Voix Humaine’, 2014. Image courtesy the artist.

A screenshot of the world

The Forum features an impressive line-up of speakers hailing from international art and technology spheres, with artists, writers and curators sharing the stage with some of the hottest tech innovators of our time. The list of international contributors includes:

  • Alexander Asseily, founder of Jawbone
  • Sebastian Cwilich, President and COO of Artsy
  • Thomas Galbraith, Managing Director of Paddle8
  • Christopher Bevans, Design Director of M3/Relativity
  • Amit Sood, Director of the Google Cultural Project
  • Ayesha Khanna, Digital Media in Education innovator
  • Lawrence Abu Hamdan, artist
  • Amar Bakshi, artist and writer
  • James Bridle, artist, writer and technologist
  • Manal Al Dowayan, artist
  • Cécile B. Evans, artist
  • GCC, artists’ collective
  • Omar Kholeif, writer and curator
  • Dan O’Hara, artist and writer
  • The Otolith Group, artists’ collective
  • Troy Therrien, artist and curator

Zooming in on the Gulf

Apart from discussing technology on an international level, the Forum intends for the conversation to zoom in specifically on the Gulf and the Middle East. Co-director Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi said in the press release that the Forum will

alter the conversation about technology and the Middle East, and shed light on how the region’s culture [is] being influenced by the streams of communication innovations that have appeared in the past few decades.

In an interview with Creative Time Reports Sultan Al Qassemi said

There’s this impression that the Gulf, or the Middle East more broadly, is disconnected from the rest of the world. But a closer look makes it clear that some of the most connected youth in the world are based in Arab countries. Take Saudi Arabia—Riyadh is the tenth most Twitter-connected city in the world. Many Arab artists publish and sell their work using social media.

A selction of the 50 speakers in the Global Art Forum 2015. Image courtesy the contributors.

A selction of the 50 speakers in the Global Art Forum 2015. Image courtesy the contributors.

Tipping hats to Kuwait

This year the Forum begins for the first time in Kuwait, where a workshop on digitising archives, jointly organised by the Hong Kong Asia Art Archive and Sultan Gallery, will be hosted. In the Creative Time Reports interview, Al Qassemi revealed the decision behind having the Forum begin in Kuwait this year:

Kuwait was the launchpad for the globalisation of Gulf culture over half a century ago. Kuwait is where some of the earliest radio, cinema, theatre and even political and social movements of the Gulf originated several decades ago. Kuwait was also the launchpad for the first Gulf publication in colour. [...] For the first time, the Gulf had moved from being a receiver of culture—from the West, India and other parts of the Arab world—to being a broadcaster, a publisher, a producer of popular content. This is our way of tipping our hat to Kuwait and recognising its pioneering role in the globalisation of culture.

Michele Chan

649

Related Topics: art in the UAE, art fairs, forums, art and the internet, art and globalisationevents in Kuwait, events in Dubai

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Mobile M+: Inaugural moving image programme explores mobility and migration



Hong Kong’s M+ launches its inaugural moving image project exploring themes of contemporary migration, mobility and home.

The multi-site exhibition and screening programme “Mobile M+: Moving Images” showcases works from the museum’s growing moving image collection, in advance of its opening in 2018.

Clara Law, 'Floating Life' (video still). Image courtesy the artist and Hibiscus Films.

Clara Law, ‘Floating Life’ (video still). Image courtesy the artist and Hibiscus Films.

Mobile M+: Moving Images

In mid-January this year, Hong Kong’s M+ announced its inaugural moving image project, entitled “Mobile M+: Moving Images”. Running from 27 February to 25 April 2015, the programme is held at multiple sites and features two components: a series of thematic screenings as well as an exhibition of selected works.

Curated by Yung Ma, Associate Curator, Moving Image at M+, the project is inspired by ideas of contemporary migration, mobility and home. The press release reads:

Inspired by the many connotations of the word ‘moving’ and the rise of diasporic cinema, Mobile M+: Moving Images engages Hong Kong’s acclaimed ‘migratory cinema’ from the 80s and the 90s [...] as a starting point to consider how conditions and realities of contemporary migration and displacement are imagined, expressed and represented through mediated images.

Yung Ma, Associate Curator, Moving Image at M+.

Yung Ma, Associate Curator, Moving Image at M+.

Migratory cinema

The screening component of the programme takes place over four weekends at Yau Ma Tei’s Broadway Cinematheque, the leading art house cinema in Hong Kong. A total of thirty Hong Kong and international films will be presented, ranging from narrative features to shorts, documentaries, artist films and videos, and television programmes. Curator Yung Ma was quoted in the press release as saying:

With Hong Kong’s ‘migratory cinema’ as one of the key inspirations, this project celebrates the city’s cinematic legacy. I also believe the project’s thematic focus on contemporary migration is rather poignant and relevant both locally and internationally, especially given the globalisation of the last decades.

Notable filmmakers showcased by the project include:

Tsai Ming Liang, 'I Don't Want To Sleep Alone', video still. Photo by William Laxton. Image courtesy the artist and Homegreen Films.

Tsai Ming Liang, ‘I Don’t Want To Sleep Alone’, video still. Photo by William Laxton. Image courtesy the artist and Homegreen Films.

A pluralistic approach to migration

The exhibition component of the project is held at two different locations, namely the Cattle Depot Artist Village in To Kwa Wan and Midtown POP in Causeway Bay. In addition to a special new commission by young and exciting Hong Kong animator Wong Ping, the exhibition showcases works by over 25 local and international artists and filmmakers, including:

Curator Yung Ma says of the inclusion of non-filmic forms:

In order to offer the public a fresh and wider perspective on moving images, the exhibition will include works in the filmic mode as well as other forms and mediums by Hong Kong and international artists and filmmakers. It will employ a pluralistic approach to visualise the transitional and transformative experiences of migration, reflecting the realities of today’s mobile societies.

Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, 'Central' (video still). Image courtesy the artist and 303 Gallery, New York.

Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, ‘Central’, video still. Image courtesy the artist and 303 Gallery, New York.

An interdisciplinary curatorial project

The screening and exhibition programme will be complemented by a series of learning activities, including talks with filmmakers and artists as well as workshops and special guided tours. Lars Nittve, Executive Director of M+, says:

[...] we aim to establish a strong identity for M+’s distinctive curatorial approach in presenting and collecting moving image works, in which boundaries between the different materials will be deliberately dissolved to form a holistic view of the field. A number of works or works by the same artists/filmmakers will be shown in both settings, further signifying our strategy of highlighting an inter-disciplinary approach to the formation of our programme and collection, which is central to the practice of M+ as a museum for visual culture.

Michele Chan

652

Related Topics: Hong Kong artists, Chinese artists, video, film, museum shows, museum collections, curatorial practiceevents in Hong Kong

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Internships | Yone Arts, PULSE Art Fair…and more



Looking for an internship in the art world? Art Radar compiles some of the best opportunities for you.

 

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  • a comprehensive list of internships in the field of art?
  • connecting with other art interns?
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INTERNSHIP London | Marketing Internship | Shape Arts - apply by 9 March 2015

Shape is a disability-led arts organisation that works to improve the lives of disabled people and to challenge the preconceptions that exist around disability. They are seeking a Marketing Intern to maintain and support the activities of the PR and Marketing team at Shape. For six months, the intern will help to maximise the impact of their new website and work with other online platforms such as social media. This is a full-time paid internship. MORE HERE.

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INTERNSHIP London | Communications Internship | Artangel - apply by 9 March 2015

Artangel commissions and produces exceptional projects by outstanding contemporary artists in surprising sites and situations. The Communications Intern reports to the Communications Co-ordinator and provides support to the Communications Team for specific marketing, press and digital tasks for projects and with general administration. This is a paid internship. MORE HERE.

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INTERNSHIP USA, Thailand or Singapore | Office Management and Social Media Intern | Yone Arts - apply by 30 March 2015

Yone Arts engages with emerging artists from Myanmar. This is a paid internship requiring a commitment of 20 hours per week leading up to art fairs and exhibitions. The Intern should have skills including Excel, Quickbooks, basic bookkeeping, and good organisation and writing skills as well as an excellent internet connection. Email CV and covering letter to paula@yonearts.com.

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INTERNSHIP Ohio | Multiple internships | Akron Art Museum - apply by 31 March 2015

The availability of internships varies according to department needs. The internship program is open to college students, recent college graduates and graduate students who majored (or are majoring) in art, art history, art education, arts administration, library science, communications or marketing. MORE HERE.

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INTERNSHIP Miami | Volunteer/Fair Assistant | PULSE Contemporary Art Fair – apply by unspecified

Fair Assistants are involved in all matters of operation and have access to all behind-the-scenes happenings. They support the PULSE team in every job they do and work alongside PULSE Management to help run the fair as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Email elizabeth@ramsayfairs.com.

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Closing this week!

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OPEN CALL Singapore | M1 Singapore Fringe Festival – apply by 6 March 2015

The M1 Singapore Fringe Festival is an annual festival of theatre, dance, music, visual arts and mixed media created and presented by Singapore and international artists. The theme for M1 Singapore Fringe Festival 2016 is Art and the Animal, and will take place from 13 – 24 January 2016. They are looking for works in all disciplines. MORE HERE

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Looking for more opportunities in the contemporary art world? For Art Radar’s complete list of jobs, internships, residencies, courses and open calls, click here.

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