New North and South to celebrate South Asian Arts in Britain

Raqib Shaw

Image: Raqib Shaw, Self Portrait in the Studio at Peckham (After Steenwyck the Younger). 2014-2015 © Raqib Shaw. Photo © White Cube, Ben Westoby. Contemporary artist Raqib Shaw will have a solo exhibition at the Whitworth that will examine real and imagined spaces between the East and West (opening 15 June 2017).

A new network of eleven arts organisations from across the North of England and South Asia, today announced a three year programme of co-commissions, exhibitions and intellectual exchange to celebrate shared heritage across continents and develop artistic talent. The New North and South network will bring prominence to the work of leading Bangladeshi, Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan and UK artists and include new artistic commissions, exhibitions and performances in Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool and in Colombo, Dhaka, Lahore, Karachi and Kochi.

This new network consists of Manchester Art Gallery, the Whitworth, Manchester Museum, Liverpool Biennial, The Tetley in Leeds and Colombo Biennale (Sri Lanka), Dhaka Art Summit (Bangladesh), Karachi and Lahore Biennales (Pakistan), Kochi-Muziris Biennale (India) and the British Council.

The New North and South aims to connect with diverse audiences on both continents through a programme of exhibitions and events that showcase the best of contemporary art from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the UK and also explore unequal and contested histories of empire and the industrial revolution.

New North South to commence in Manchester

The first twelve months of the New North and South will commence in Manchester with a retrospective of photographs by Sooni Taraporevala at the Whitworth (opening 4 March 2017) showcasing 40 years of images of Mumbai/Bombay. The Whitworth will also showcase its rich South Asian textile collection alongside the work of contemporary artists Raisa Kabir, Yasmin Jahan Nupur, Risham Syed and Indian collective CONA (opening 18 May 2017). Manchester Art Gallery’s design gallery will present its south Asian decorative art alongside work by contemporary makers Adeela Suleman, Halima Cassell, Manish Arora and Cobalt Designs (opening 18 May 2017).

Contemporary artist Raqib Shaw will have a solo exhibition at the Whitworth that will examine real and imagined spaces between the East and West (opening 15 June 2017). Co-curated by Diana Campbell Betancourt, Director of Dhaka Art Summit, Dr. Maria Balshaw, Director of the Whitworth and Manchester Art Gallery and the artist, Shaw’s paintings will be combined with historic textiles, furniture and drawings from the Whitworth collection referencing Kashmir and the aesthetic of the East, echoing the opulent imagery and mythic space Shaw inhabits and creates in his paintings. The installation will then be reimagined for the South Asian context of the Dhaka Art Summit 2018.

Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry will welcome performance artist Nikhil Chopra. Chopra will create a one-off performance based around a steam locomotive held in the Museum’s permanent collection. The steam engine was built in Newton-le-Willows, Merseyside, but served on the Indian Railways and was then transferred to Pakistan after Partition in 1947. This single object and the original Liverpool Road station, the terminus the world’s first commercial railway line from Liverpool to Manchester, will become the symbolic centre of Chopra’s performance (29 September – 1 October 2017).

The Tetley in Leeds will host a week-long workshop facilitated and led by established performance artists Nikhil Chopra, Madhavi Gore and Jana Prepeluh, also known as ‘Bodyworkshop’. This workshop travels to Leeds from the 2016 Dhaka Art Summit. At The Tetley twelve artists, selected by the eleven network partners and drawn from Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and the UK, will incubate new ideas culminating in a weekend of performances and talks (5-6 August 2017).

From 30 September 2017, the New North and South network will host a Manchester-wide programme of South Asian arts, of which highlights include:

· Solo exhibitions of new work by leading Pakistani artists Mehreen Murtaza, Waqas Khan, Risham Syed and Tentative Collective, Indian artist Neha Choksi and UK artist Hetain Patel at Manchester Art Gallery.

· The work of four pioneering Pakistani and Indian modernists, Sadanand Bakre, Avinash Chandra, Anwar Jalal Shemza and F.N. Souza,at the Whitworth.

· A major exhibition and intervention by Reena Saini Kallat across Manchester Museum. The multimedia exhibition will see Kallat create new audio installations and a large outdoor sculpture inspired by the Museum’s natural science and human cultures collections. Works including Colour Curtain (2009), a barricade made from rubberstamps with the names of individuals who have been denied visas and Light Leaks (2008-2010), a sculpture modelled on the gates at the Wagah Attari border between India and Pakistan will also be displayed.

· The first major UK exhibition by Raqs Media Collective at the Whitworth and throughout the Whitworth Park, exploring the history of Suffrage and the birth of the labour movement. The exhibition will include new commissions inspired by Manchester’s industrial heritage.

Complementing the New North and South programme will be performances, film screenings, music events and social history exhibitions that will take place across Manchester including: Memories of Partition, coordinated by Manchester Museum, The Royal Exchange Theatre, the Race Relations Archive and the Manchester BME Network, which will collect oral history interviews from people affected by the Partition of 1947. Contemporary South Asian music with Manchester’s Band On The Wall and a Partition film season at HOME will also take place.

In parallel to the public programme the New North and South network will facilitate a series of residencies hosted by Liverpool Biennial. The residencies will enable mid-career artists from South Asia to work alongside, or be supported by, artists and curators with international reputations. The residencies will culminate in a series of co-commissions with the Lahore and Karachi Biennales in 2017. Liverpool Biennial will also develop mentoring and commissioning opportunities for emerging Bangladeshi artists selected for the Samdani Award with Dhaka Art Summit in 2018.

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