YARAT Contemporary Art Space announces a solo exhibition of visual artist and poet Babi Badalov, running 2 March – 16 June 2019. Born in Azerbaijan and living in France since 2008, Badalov’s practice explores the complexities and limitations of language and expressions of gender and sexuality. At YARAT the artist presents an installation made entirely of existing and newly commissioned textile works, offering a timely observation on the conflicts between Azerbaijan's cultural heritage and the contemporary climate of accelerated capitalist growth within the country.
Having spent much of his life migrating between various countries and cultures, Badalov’s work is informed by his own personal experiences of exclusion - particularly with regards to gender and sexuality - whilst also alluding to broader geopolitical concerns.
Using a process akin to automatic writing, Badalov’s urgent and organic text-based works present multiple languages to construct his distinct visual poetry, forming cleverly nuanced slogans and socio-politically charged puns. The exhibition’s title, ZARA Tustra, is itself a portmanteau of the global high street brand (ZARA) - synonymous with contemporary fast-fashion - and the ancient Persian prophet Zarathustra (whose teachings developed into the religion Zoroastrianism) – still a major influence on the history and culture of Azerbaijan today; the title, like the work itself, thus plays within the gaps between contemporary and traditional structures, from language and beyond.
Often using fabric as a medium for his work, the installation at YARAT comprises approximately 250 textiles hung in rows suspended from the gallery ceiling. Utilising old sheets, pieces of curtains and found materials, each textile is overlaid with Badalov’s poetic texts. Evoking the production line process of an industrial factory, the immersive installation locates the viewer within the contemporary landscape of fast fashion and mass production, whilst raising issues related to our more traditional and historically rooted constructs of self.
Presenting a departure from the textile works, a wall-based intervention from the artist similarly questions narratives surrounding people and places. Presenting handwritten slogans and texts across the gallery wall, it becomes both a physical representation of geo-political boundaries, and also a metaphor for the limits of language itself. The work is the latest in a series of recent pieces the artist has completed for exhibitions internationally.
This exhibition is curated by Suad Garayeva-Maleki and Anna Fech
About the Artist
Badalov was born in Lerik, Azerbaïjan (1959) and lives and works in Paris. Solo exhibitions include Je Suis Mazimir Kalevich, New Museum, St. Petersbourg (2018); Quand la Litterature Sort du Livre, Festival Extra, Centre Pompidou, Paris (2018); Refugee Politic Refugee Poetic, National Museum of History of Immigration, Paris (2017); To Make Art To Take Clothes Off, MUSAC – Museum Contemporary Art, Leon (2017); For the Wall For the World Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2016); Partisanism, Tensta Konsthall, Stockholm (2016); MIGRANT POETRY, La Station, Center for Contemporary Art, Nice (2015) and FUCK GOLF, Kunstraum Munich (2015).
Badalov has also participated in biennials and arts festivals accross the globe such as the 5th Rennes Biennale (2016), 11th Gwangju Biennale (2016), 6th Moscow Biennale (2015), 15th Jakarta Biennale (2013) and Manifesta 8 (2010).
Babi Badalov is represented by Galerie Jérôme Poggi, Paris since 2014.
YARAT is an artist-founded, not-for-profit art organisation based in Baku, Azerbaijan, established by Aida Mahmudova in 2011. YARAT (which means 'create' in Azerbaijani) is dedicated to contemporary art with a long-term commitment to creating a hub for artistic practice, research, thinking and education in the Caucasus, Central Asia and surrounding region.
YARAT comprises YARAT Art Centre, ARTIM Project Space, YARAT Studios, YAY Gallery and an extended educational and public programme. YARAT Art Centre, a 2000m² converted Soviet-era naval building, opened in March 2015 and is the organisation's main exhibition space. The exhibition programme features new commissions by artists responding to the region. It supports and provides access to artists from the region, while engaging and introducing established, international artists.
In October 2015, YARAT opened ARTIM, a central, accessible and dynamic space in Baku's Old City. ARTIM (meaning 'progress' in Azerbaijani) shows experimental practices and new work by emerging Azeri art professionals (selected through open call) and the international artists from the residency programme. It features multiple small-scale projects each year and hosts ARTIM LAB, a programme enabling young artists to engage in workshops and daily studio practice to generate new ideas and works.
In 2016 YARAT launched a renewed residency programme. Aimed at developing young Azerbaijani voices and emerging international artists, the focus is on new, innovative practices and artists with an interest in the region. The residency programme hosts 6 international and 4 local artists a year at YARAT Studios’ spaces.
Education has been at the heart of YARAT's activities since its creation. With a dedicated public programme that includes courses, workshops, lectures, screenings, festivals, literature and theatre clubs and family weekends, YARAT aims to give access to broad audiences of all ages. The public programme invests proactively in building communities and nurturing a wider understanding of, and participation in, contemporary art.
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