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Artist of the week

Artist of the Week: Faisal Abdu’allah

Double Pendulum – the artist’s new film explores how exercise, identity and ritual are affected by the air we breathe

Double Pendulum, which is available to view until 17 July at the View Tube in East London, is a film about breathing and movement involving professional athletes and world-class leading scientists. It  is screened through a large-scale outdoor projection with the Olympic stadium as the backdrop as part of the CREATE 11 festival. Sports professionals illustrate and map the journey that air takes through the human form alongside an engaging narrative from world-leading scientists from King’s College London and Brunel University. Find out more about this Invisible Dust project here.

Faisal Abdu’allah has worked with Iniva several times; an example is the exhibition Veil which took place in 2003, which showed at the New Art Gallery, Walsall, and toured to Liverpool, Oxford and Stockholm. The exhibition examined the veil as one of the most powerful symbols in contemporary culture. Twenty artists and film-makers addressed the question of the veil in all its complexities and ambiguities, challenging any single or fixed cultural interpretation. Abdu’allah exhibited ‘The Last Supper’ as part of this exhibition.

Faisal Abdu’allah’s work primarily evolves from the interface of photography, the printed image and lens-based installations. He graduated in Fine Arts at the Royal College of Art in London and his work constantly repositions values and ideologies pertaining to representation. He is a senior lecturer in Fine art at the University of East London. He lives and maintains a studio in London. Visit the artist’s website.

Artist of the week: Yoan Capote

Yoan Capote exhibits at the Venice Biennale

Born in Pinar del Río in 1977, Yoan Capote lives and works in Havana. He is exhibiting in the Cuban Pavillion at the 54th International Art Exhibition.

For this artwork artist created molds of real bones with provenance from different dead people and after reproduced in wax each one, adjusting them and creating the representation of a new subject in that sculpture. The weight of the concrete is used like a symbolic element. Equilibrium is as a metaphor of struggle and resistance.

Capote contributed work to Iniva’s States of Exchange exhibition in 2008 at Rivington Place. Selected by Iniva’s curator at the time Cylena Simonds and prominent Cuban curator Gerardo Mosquera, the group show focused on six artists living and working in Cuba. The work offered a witty, scathing and provocative response to scarcity and constraint, raising issues of global relevance.
Accompanying the exhibition there is a full-colour illustrated catalogue which is still available from our website.

Artist of the week: Susan Stockwell

Exhibition at the Florence Nightingale Museum

Artist Susan Stockwell is currently running a project at the Florence Nightingale Museum based on quilt making. Taking inspiration from a quilt made from 20th century nursing uniforms, Susan and a group from Lambeth Council will create quilts from recycled materials.

The resulting art works, along with new work by Susan, will be shown in an exhibition at the museum called All Stitched Up, from May 2011.

Stockwell’s work draws on everyday materials that are manipulated and transformed into extraordinary sculptures, collages and installations questioning ecology, historic and present day trade, and the post and neo-colonial implications of global commerce.  Recent exhibitions include installation Flood at York St Marys (York City Art Gallery) 18 June-31 October 2010; Susan Stockwell Selected Works at the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A), London in 2001 and group exhibitions Quilts from 1700 to the Present Day, Hidden Histories, Untold Stories at the V&A until and Creative Compass at the Royal Geographic Society.

The artist has worked with Iniva on several occasions on the theme of mapping and created a site-specific commission, River of Blood, for the vast window of Rivington Place for the 2010 exhibition Whose Map is it? New Mapping by Artists. The installation was made up of an intricate network of red tributaries to form the iconic image of the Thames River map. She draws parallels between city roads and human arteries, investigating the north versus south London divide that the capital’s citizens frequently highlight. You can listen to a radio interview where the artist talks about the installation here.

Artists of the week: Hew Locke & Gayle Chong-Kwan

Both artists participate in ArtSway’s New Forest Pavilion  at the 54th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia 2011

The exhibition runs from 4 June – 26 June 2011 and features artists Gayle Chong Kwan and Hew Locke, who have recently worked with Iniva, alongside Dave Lewis, Mike Marshall, Christopher Orr and Sophy Rickett.

ArtSway’s New Forest Pavilion is an offiicial collateral event for the exhibition at this year’s Venice Bienniale and features a number of new commissions. Each artist explores ideas relating to nationhood, ecology and landscape as seen within a modern global context. It looks like an interesting exhibition to visit if you are lucky enough to be in Venice this month!

Gayle Chong Kwan’s installation for ArtSway’s exhibition, The Obsidian Isle, explores ideas of collective history, the senses and memory, national identity, landscape and tourism. Chong Kwan documents an island which houses the lost and destroyed places of her native Scotland, referencing the 18th century fictionalized epic of Ossian, as well as her Mauritian heritage, an island whose landscape is being theatricalised and consumed through the global tourist industry.

Chong Kwan works with photography, video, sound, installation, and performance and weaves together documentary and fantastical approaches to explore ideas of collective and individual memory, history and expanded notions of and frustration between the senses.

Chong Kwan worked with Iniva most recently in summer 2010, creating an installation ‘Save the Last Dance for Me’ for our Whose Map is it? New Mapping by Artists exhibiton. Her audio installation included clips from people interviewed about dancing the Rumba and was accompanied by a map of the movement and origins of the dance across the world, as well as dance cards for the more adventurous visitors who fancied trying it out for themselves.

Watch a video of Gayle speaking about this installation on our YouTube channel, where you can also find a 3 part series of the artist talking at Rivington Place about her previous work and practice in general as well.

Also participating in ArtSway’s exhibition is Hew Locke. Locke’s recent commission for ArtSway -Starchitect- is an installation constructed from cut and painted plywood sheets, featuring sculptural objects which for La Biennale is condensed into one room, presented as a ‘treasury’, linking to the former colonial standing of Venice.

Globalisation and ‘Britishness’ are recurring themes in his work. Born in Scotland, Locke spent his early years in newly independent Guyana – a former British colony that was attempting to find its place in the international community. His work focuses on notions of loss of power and prestige, particularly in light of the recent economic downturn. 

Locke exhibited Kingdom of the Blind with Iniva at Rivington Place in 2008, where he combined formal and thematic elements of his practice to create his first ever ‘museum display’ – a fictional collection of the possessions of an imaginary ruler. The installation combined a carnivalesque frieze of monumental figures (reaching up to 14 ft tall) with an elaborate backdrop of wall drawings. Depicting this fictional leader’s rise to power, Locke’s figures acted out victorious moments in battle and resemble elaborate votive objects – composed of intricate combinations of fake leather handbags, miniature plastic animals, doll parts, sequins, chains and fake weaponry.

In this exhibition, Locke’s allusions to the language of contemporary dictatorships and war assume a powerful commentary on our national cultural institutions and their relationship to the modern constructs of history and society, cultural identity and national pride.

Artist of the week: Nasreen Mohamedi

Reflections on Indian Modernism – new exhibition of the artist’s work opens

Iniva’s Senior Curator and Research Associate, Grant Watson, has been busy. Fresh from our recent Rabih Mroué exhibition he has curated (freelance) with Suman Gopinath Nasreen Mohamedi: Notes - Reflections on Indian Modernism at WEILS in Brussels which opens next week.

Nasreen Mohamedi (1937–1990) is regarded as one of the most important Indian artists of her generation, and her paintings, drawings and photographs, produced from the early 1960s to the late 1980s, constitute a key body of work within the modernist canon. Mohamedi studied in London and Paris during the late 1950s and early 60s, and then returned to India to teach.

Her drawings from the late 1970s onwards tend toward the resolutely abstract, they intimate cultural references, which become explicit in her photographs – in which historical architecture suggests an aesthetic link to both modernisation and an Islamic heritage. In Mohamedi’s diaries, made over a period of thirty years, textual and graphic interventions also attest to the close links between her inner life and her practice as an artist.

In 2000, her work was included in Iniva’s exhibiton, Drawing Space which brought together the work of three contemporary Indian artists, Nasreen Mohamedi, Sheela Gowda and N.S.Harsha (Both Harsha and Gowda have had recent exhibitions with Iniva at Rivington Place). Each artist’s practice encompasses visual forms from the West filtered through an Indian sensibility and uses the drawn line as a device for negotiating space in ways that are self-empowering, exploring the complexity of making and exhibiting work in an increasingly global context. A publication also called Drawing Space: Contemporary Indian Drawing was produced to support the exhibition.

Artist of the week: Neeta Madahar

Artist Neeta Madahar opens a new exhibition exploring the construction of female roles through portraiture and role play

Role Play: Neeta Madahar & Madame Yevonde opens on 20 May at PM Gallery and House and features a series of works, Flora, by our artist of the week, Neeta Madahar. The works are inspired by the distinctive 1935 Goddesses series by Madame Yevonde as Madahar shares her interest in the construction of female roles. The artist invited seventeen female friends to pose as Flora, the Roman deity of flowering and fruit-bearing plants. The images produced are universal representations but also deeply personal reflections allowing the sitters to fashion their own idealised femininity.

Iniva, Fabrica and Photoworks commissioned Madahar’s first film, Falling, in 2005. In this film sycamore seeds tumble slowly toward the viewer in a dramatic moment that echoes naturally occuring phenomena yet enables the viewer to immerse themselves in stillness and intimate details. This ordinary scene is exposed in crystalline detail, albeit in an uncanny exaggerated form, reflecting on the dream-like temporality of nature and memory. Madahar represents the physical world in unusual ways enabling the viewer to immerse themselves in stillness and intimate details. You can watch a clip of this film here.

Neeta Madahar was part of Iniva’s Atlas season of exhibitions and events that map ideas and experiences largely drawn from uncharted territory

The artist also produced a limited edition print to accompany the film Falling, called Sky, Seeds, and Me. It is still available to buy through Iniva’s online shop.

Artist of the week: Leticia Valverdes

Photographer Leticia Valverdes creates a project exploring wedding dresses from the past, and their wearers.

I hope you weren’t thinking that royal wedding fever was over…! Leticia Valverdes has created a topical project which is certainly an interesting and thought-provoking look at one of the most important aspects of any couple’s big day – the dress.

Wedding dresses can be a reflection of both the bride and current fashions. For this (still ongoing) project, The Wedding Dress, the artist asked women who married more than three decades ago to be photographed wearing their old wedding dresses. Garments carry memories, particularly wedding dresses which are worn at a special time and which can embody the hopes of so many women for their lives and futures. The artist says, “For a few hours this dress, whatever color or design, makes its model once more the center of attention, brings moments of intimacy and memories, dreams and visions.”

Leticia’s work explores notions of identity, self esteem, belonging, memory and dreams and concentrates on interactions with people. She worked with Iniva on London Is The Place For Me in 2007, an exhibition exploring migration through photography and moving image. The exhibition was organised jointly by Iniva and Autograph ABP to mark the opening of Rivington Place and also featured artists Mona Hatoum, Keith Piper and Harold Offeh.

Originally from Brazil, she studied Fine Art at London Metropolitan University. Her work has featured in a number of group and solo shows in the UK and abroad.

Visit Leticia’s website

The BBC also wrote an article about the project, read it here.

Artist of the week: Coco Fusco

Cuban-American artist Coco Fusco  is one of today´s best-known performance-artists and is often concerned with gender-specific conflicts, migration, cultural colonisation.  Fusco has performed and curated throughout America and internationally, and currently is the Chair of the Fine Art Department at Parsons The New School for Design. Her recent work combines electronic media and performance and much of her work she draws on her Cuban heritage, using language performance and multimedia to explore issues of difference and cutural politics.

A recent example of a performance/ monologue by Fusco is A Room of One’s Own, which explores the expanding role of American women in the ‘War on Terror’. She raises questions about feminism in the 21st century and the ways that political conservatives have appropriated the language of women’s liberation, while also drawing attention to how detention and prisoner abuse led to a reconsideration of the possible legitimacy of torture under the Bush administation.

Fusco published The Bodies that Were Not Ours with Iniva in 2001. This (now sold out) publication gathers together Coco Fusco’s finest writings since 1995, as well as essays, interviews, performance scripts and fotonovelas which take readers on a tour of a ’multicultural landscape’, accompanied by critical introductory essays by Jean Fisher and Caroline Vercoe. There is an audio recording of the artist in conversation with John Akomfrah in Iniva’s digital archive, where the artist discusses the publication and the direction and future of debates around post-colonial cultural discourse.

Coco Fusco will participate in Iniva’s current lecture series, the Keyword Lectures, discussing the term ‘resistance’ with academic Sara Ahmed on May 12 – find out more about this event here.