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February 2012

Social Fabric symposium: Joana Vasconcelos’ ‘Valkyrie Trousseau’

Artist focus – Social Fabric Symposium

Joana Vasconcelos lives and works in Lisbon, Portugal. The nature of Vasconcelos’ creative process is based on the appropriation, decontextualisation and subversion of pre-existent objects and everyday realities. She uses sculpture, installation, performances, video and photographic records to challenge the prearranged routines of the quotidian.

Social Fabric Symposium is coming up soon and we are excited to have several exciting speakers incudng artists, curators, writers and cultural theorists. Showing in the afternoon of the symposium is a documentary on Joana Vasconcelos’ piece Valkyrie Trousseau, 2009.

Here’s a video clip showing this stunning and detailed collaboration:

Enxoval (The Bottom Drawer) is a documentary film by Kitty Oliviera, Pedro Macedo, Isabel Freire. This documentary shows the collaboration between Joana and a community of artisans from Nisa (a small town in the Alentejo region renowned for its arts and crafts), as well as the work process, while also featuring interviews with the women artisans who are the protagonists of a unique tradition in Portugal.

Watch the trailer for the film:


The unique aspect of Portuguese culture explored in this film is the creation of an embroidered bridal trousseau. Traditionally girls from the age of six would work for years to create the trousseau, which would then be sold on the eve of their wedding, the proceeds of which would go towards a house for the newslyweds. In modern times young girls are not interested in learning how to embroider, and the laborious techniques typical of Nisa are sadly becoming obsolete.

Find out more about the symposium

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Artist of the week: Sheela Gowda

 Sheela Gowda has been nominated for the Artes Mundi prize this year

Sheela Gowda is noiminated for this year’s Artes Mundi art prize alongside Miriam Bäckström (Sweden), Tania Bruguera (Cuba), Phil Collins (England), Teresa Margolles (Mexico), Darius Mikšys (Lithuania) and Apolonija Šušteršič (Slovenia). Find out more about the prize this year.

Initially trained as a painter, since the 1990s Sheela Gowda has increasingly developed a sculptural and installation practice that explores how materials can make specific reference to the social and cultural context of India. She is known for creating large-scale sculptural installations which take everyday materials as the starting point and for works that combine abstract forms with references to society.

Gowda’s use of unconventional materials is a highly evocative element of her practice, where the tactile qualities of thread, hair, traditional dyes, pattern and weaving, bring the viewer’s attention to a meaning that transposes these elements into social objects and practices located within a network of production and distribution, framed in relation to India’s socio-political legacy.

In 2011 she had her first UK solo exhibition, Therein & Besides, at Iniva at Rivington Place. For the show she created a new large scale installation, of all people,  made up of thousands of wooden chips, roughly carved by craftsmen into votive objects.



They formed part of a composition of larger frames and doors painted emerald green, peppermint, pink and off-white which also reveal the marks of weathering and infestation by insects. Moving through this environment, the viewer is invited to recalibrate their experience of the work from a number of different heights and perspectives.

Collateral was made by rolling, arranging and burning incense on mesh frames to produce intricate patterns. This sculpture of ash has a fragmented and broken appearance which suggests a landscape ravaged by war.

Watch a video of Sheela Gowda installing her work made of burned incense ash at Rivington Place in 2011.

Video clip: curator Grant Watson

Iniva’s Senior Curator Grant Watson introduces Social Fabric exhibition at Rivington Place in this short video clip.


Find out more about Social Fabric

Artist of the week: Shiraz Bayjoo

Artist Shiraz Bayjoo has been busy! He features as artist of the week again thanks to his show ‘Bow Boys Archive‘ as Artist in Residence at The Whitechapel Gallery. Until 26 February 2012.

In his new installation at Whitechapel Gallery, Bayjoo has brought together the formal and thematic elements of his practice to create The Bow Boys Archive; a work generated and researched during his artist’s residency at Bow School of Maths and Computing.  Composed of archive images, portraits of the students, news footage and a barricade of abandoned household and office furniture the installation is as much a contemporary reworking of a history painting as it is an archive. The history painting and the archive function in similar ways, to document histories that shape and form the identities that preserve them.

Bayjoo’s Bow Boys Archive explores histories and notions of collective memory and place. Students’ family stories are set against a history of migration and the fight for human rights. It includes film, photography and painting in an emotionally and politically charged installation.

For the past few years, Shiraz Bayjoo’s work has been exploring collective identities and the symbols, flags and emblems that groups use to represent themselves. This ongoing exploration has seen Bayjoo compiling motifs, myths and narratives that have cultural, political, social and religious resonances, to create visually rich displays that speak as much of the history of painting as the cultural and political histories that they reference.

Shiraz Bayjoo and Iniva

In 2009 Bayjoo transformed Rivington Place’s Education Space into a temporary artist-run factory for the Workforce learning project, making it the setting for a new workforce in response to exhibitions by NS Harsha and Chen Chieh-jen, and in 2011 he ran Social Archive One, a film project aiming to explore the contrasting economics of Rivington Place’s locale with the people who live and work in the area through films made by Bayjoo and members of the public. The project will continue in summer 2012, capturing views of the residents of Shoreditch in the run up to the London Olympics, and the following year after the Olympics are over. Watch the videos from Social Archive One here.

Find out more about Shiraz Bayjoo in Iniva’s archive or visit his website.

Stuart Hall special birthday bibliography

Iniva’s Stuart Hall Library have compiled a special bibliography for the occasion of Stuart Hall’s 80th birthday last week.



This bibliography is based on a collection of materials available in the library, by/about cultural theorist and sociologist, Stuart Hall. Though not a comprehensive list, it provides the reader with a wide range of Hall’s ideas and concerns, such as hegemony, Marxism and cultural studies, and notions of identity, cultural identity and race. Read the bibliography here.


More about Stuart Hall

Stuart Hall was born in February 1932 in Kingston, Jamaica. He is a cultural theorist and sociologist who has lived and worked in the UK since 1951. He was one of the founding figures of the school of thought that is now known as British Cultural Studies.

He was President of the British Sociological Association 1995-1997 and joined the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at Birmingham University in 1964. While at the Centre, Hall is credited with playing a role in expanding the scope of cultural studies to deal with race and gender, and with helping to incorporate new ideas derived from the work of French theorists. He left the centre in 1979 to become a professor of sociology at the Open University until 1997 and is now a Professor Emeritus.


Stuart Hall and Iniva/ Autograph ABP

Until 2008 Stuart Hall was chair of Iniva (The Institute of International Visual Arts) and Autograph ABP (The Association of Black Photographers) and on the team of the Lottery project to build Rivington Place a culturally-diverse visual arts centre in London.

Read an article on Stuart Hall from the Observer.