Current Artist Residencies
Residency dates - 25 August to 28 September
Ashok Vish's practice draws from his training as a filmmaker and interests in other aspects of image-making such as video and photography. His work has been an examination of the complexities of human identity, especially questioned identities against the larger context of our society. Following a research-based practice, other ideas of sexual identity, gender roles and social pressure are at the core of his interests. Vish places emphasis on exploring the associations between human emotions & adversity and their corresponding public and personal personas. This affords him the opportunity to investigate the relation between the imagery of fictional worlds and the conditions of reality, and sometimes merging both fiction and non-fiction with each other. His overriding objective for all of his projects has been to create narratives, whether linear or abstract, that, in turn, open up spaces for greater engagement between audience and imagery, between viewers and subjects, because doing so helps to bridge the seemingly wide chasms that separate "us" from "them".
Vish's films have screened in several film festivals such as the Chicago South Asian Film Festival, Chelsea Film Festival, New York Indian Film Festival, StarLite Film Festival, at the Anthology Film Archives in New York City and the Full On Film festival at the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda. Vish's film 'A Boy Called Boris' was screened at 1Shanthiroad studio/gallery as part of a group exhibition titled 'Much to say', showcased along with paintings by visual artist Bhuvanesh Kumar. Apart from his films, Vish's video art and photography have shown at galleries such as A.M (Art Multi- disciplines) Studio in Kolkata, Art Konsult in Delhi, Gallery Sumukha in Bangalore, Art Houz in Bangalore, MaximiliansForum in Munich. Vish was also selected for the 2018 'PEERS Share' programme organized by Khoj International Artists Association, New Delhi and participated in an artist residency at Lichtenberg Studios in Berlin, Germany on August 2018.
More about Ashok's Project:
Not Just a Place That Sells Beer, It Sells Nectar
Although the UK has witnessed what can only be called a significant number of closures and destruction of queer spaces and nightlife venues over the past few years, in India, the opposite has been true. With changes in India's legal system, the face of India's social fabric has changed too: A newly tolerant culture on the cusp of social change has created an environment in which venues catering to the queer community have begun to spring up like never before. Drawing a parallel to this contrasting phenomenon around LGBTQ spaces in both countries is the foundational basis for my work.
By closely investigating sites of gay cruising such as bars, clubs and niche fetish venues in the UK, I aim to challenge the argument that the necessity for such spaces has decreased as a direct result of increased inclusivity in society by shining light on the importance of the specific sub-cultures and socio-cultural communities formed and fostered at such venues. The aim of my work is to remind everyone that a good queer bar/space accepts everyone, and celebrates all the things the world tells you are wrong. It is, in fact and above all else, the indescribable lure of cruising—the outlaw desires, transient encounters, and unbridled sexual activity—that drives the establishment of such spaces, and that keeps them in business, even in this digital age.
The work will initially take the form of a live-cinema performance—film clips accompanied by live dancing to disco and pop songs, and a read-through of fictionalized stories of people who frequent such venues and the culture they find there. Following further research, the work will culminate into an experimental film.
Born in Kuwait (1984), Ibrahim Ahmed spent his childhood between Bahrain and Egypt before moving to the US at the age of thirteen. In 2014, he relocated to Cairo, where he currently lives and works in the informal neighbourhood of Ard El Lewa. Ahmed's manipulations of material, especially textile, are informed by research into the histories and movements of people and objects. His works in mixed media, sculpture, and installation engage with subjects related to colonisation, structures of power, cultural interactions, and fluid identity, generating discussion around ideas of the self and notions of authenticity within the parameters of the nation-state.
Ahmed has shown his work in solo exhibitions at Sara Zanin Gallery, Rome (2019); Gallery Nosco, Marseille (2018); Volta Art Fair, New York (2016); Townhouse Gallery, Cairo (2016); artellewa art space, Cairo (2014); and Solo(s) Project House, Newark (2010). His work has also been included in numerous group exhibitions, including at the Sharjah Art Museum, Dakar Biennial, Havana Biennial, Biennale Internationale de Casablanca, No Longer Empty, New York, Swab Barcelona, and the Dubai Design District.
Ibrahim Ahmed is represented by Sara Zanin Gallery in Rome, Italy and Gallery Nosco in Marseille, France.
Academic in Residence
Ian Sergeant will commence his residency at NAE this autumn with a project which aims to interrogate contemporary notions of Black British masculinities, focusing on historical and contemporary constructs of identities, sexualities, race, gender and place. Ian's residency will culminate in the curation of a major exhibition addressing Black British masculine identities and representation in our main gallery, contributing to a final thesis of his practice-based research.
More about Ian's Project:
Visual Representations and Cultural (Re)Constructions of Black British Masculinities in 21st Century Birmingham.
This practice based research places Birmingham as a site of cultural significance in the context of Black British migration and the emergence of the Blk Art Group (BAG) in the early 1980s. Through their respective artistic practices and discourse emanating from such events as the First National Conference of Black Art in 1982, BAG artists including Marlene Smith, Donald Rodney, Claudette Johnson, Keith Piper and Eddie Chambers challenged negative socio-political narratives of race, gender and identities. Their conscious approach to art would have a lasting influence on future generations of Black visual artists.
Therefore, this practice based research adopts a methodological approach, inspired by art historian and writer Kobena Mercer's theory of a "cut and mix aesthetic", which Mercer attributed to BAG's artistic practice. To deliver this research, methods including auto-ethnography, archival research, socially engaged art and curatorial practice, will be utilised to interrogate the influence of such initiatives as BAG of the 1980s in framing constructs of contemporary Black male identities. Furthermore, it will explore Black male identities, asking, "[to] what extent is place (Birmingham) a signifier in the making of these identities?" And how are these identities negotiated in their communities and through their use of popular culture?
The proposed outcome of this research is to contribute to literature and visual arts practice in relation to Black British masculinities, identities and representations, in a major city outside London.
This placement at New Art Exchange has been realised through the support of Midlands 4 Cities.
Image credit: Still from The Boys of Ramlila by Ashok Vish