Transforming an artist’s studio for prayer: Studio Jum’ah at Tate Modern – event alert

Studio Jum’ah will take place at London’s Tate Modern this Friday 19 January 2018.

The event sees artist Abbas Zahedi transform an artist’s studio at Tate Modern into a site for the Muslim Friday prayers. Art Radar previews the event.

Studio Jum'ah at Tate Modern. Design: Abbas Zahedi, courtesy the artistStudio Jum'ah at Tate Modern. Design: Abbas Zahedi, courtesy the artist

Studio Jum’ah at Tate Modern. Design: Abbas Zahedi. Image courtesy the artist.

“Studio Jum’ah” has been created as part of “Studio Complex”, a drop-in series of creative activities taking place in makeshift artist studios, opening the second year of the Tate Exchange Associates programme.

200 students from Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts, London, have created fully functioning artist studios at Tate Modern for a project entitled “Studio Complex”, which runs at the gallery from 15 – 21 January 2018. The programme opens the second year of the Tate Exchange Associates and invites the public to take part for free in a wide range of practical and diverse art activities.

Like most major urban centres, London, once a place with overlooked spaces open to occupation and experimentation, has become an increasingly difficult environment for emerging artists. “Studio Complex” reflects upon what it takes to survive as an artist in a metropolis like contemporary London – with ever-increasing rents and fewer spaces in which to make work. In the five-year period between 2014 and 2019, it is predicted that 30 per cent of artists’ studios (PDF download) in London will be lost. In response, artists are challenging and re-inventing the studio, colonising urban and online spaces in order to re-instate art practice within the heart of the city, and of contemporary life.

“Studio Jum’ah”, the project by London-based multi-disciplinary artist Abbas Zahedi, explores how artistic practice can engage with religious ritual. Zahedi’s “studio” will re-imagine the Muslim Friday prayers, and provide an opportunity for participants to pray collectively and create as part of the same act. The work is inspired, in part, by Nasreddin Hodja, the Trickster or Wise Fool of Islamic tradition.

Abbas Zahedi. Image courtesy the artist

Abbas Zahedi. Image courtesy the artist.

By transforming the space at Tate Modern into a mosque, “Studio Jum’ah” challenges the idea of the artist’s studio and gallery as exclusive sites of modernism, and reinvigorates their social function and purpose. As the artist told Art Radar,

By choosing to pray Friday prayer in the Tate I am making a statement which raises a number of questions. One of which is to do with the neo-diaspora getting the support they need from public and communal spaces to pursue artistic practice; for example, could a mosque host an artist’s studio?

Especially when many of them are empty except on a Friday afternoon. Another issue is thinking about how contemporary galleries and arts institutions can become more accessible to diasporic bodies of flesh and praxis – and is there a way to sympathetically re-imagine these sanctified temples of modernity?

Tate Exchange, "Studio Complex", Tate Modern, 15 - 21 January 2018. Image courtesy Tate

Tate Exchange, “Studio Complex”, 15 – 21 January 2018, Tate Modern, London. Image courtesy Tate Modern.

Abbas Zahedi was born in London in 1984. In 2017, his work was included in the Diaspora Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale, alongside Yinka Shonibare, Erika Tan, Isaac Julien and Larry Achiampong, among others. His practice incorporates sound, moving image, installation, performance and participation, and explores socially engaged modes of being and creating.

Zahedi has used his practice to develop a number of grassroots community initiatives, and has run multiple workshops, talks and events at venues including the School of Oriental and African Studies, University College London. In 2017, Abbas was awarded a fellowship from the School for Social Entrepreneurs (PwC) in recognition of his innovative approach to working with migrant communities in the United Kingdom.

“Studio Jum’ah” will begin at 1pm Friday 19 January 2018, with the zenith of the sun, and culminate with a communal act of worship that is open to all, regardless of background or faith.

Jessica Clifford


“Studio Jum’ah”: 1pm Friday 19 January 2018 at Tate Exchange, Level 5, Blavatnik Building, Tate Modern, Bankside, London SE1 9TG.

Related topics: British artists, performance, museum shows, political, social, events in London

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