Diaspora Pavilion 2: Artists in Conversation

The curators of the exhibition ‘I am a heart beating in the world: Diaspora Pavilion 2, Sydney‘ speak with the exhibiting artists – Abdul-Rahman Abdullah, Kashif Nadim Chaudry, Lindy Lee, Leyla Stevens, Zadie Xa, Daniela Yohannes – about their practices, their engagement with the concept of diaspora, and their planned works for the upcoming exhibition in Sydney.

I am a heart beating in the world is the first of a series of peripatetic international events that form ICF’s Diaspora Pavilion 2 programme. 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art in Sydney is collaborating with ICF to present this unfolding series that will interrogate and complicate the term diaspora. As the first project of the series, I am a heart beating in the world presents the navigations, imaginings and lived experiences of diasporic subjectivities through the works of six artists based in Australia, the UK and the Caribbean.

Zadie Xa and Jessica Taylor in Conversation

Zadie Xa (b. Vancouver, Canada lives and works in London, United Kingdom) explores the overlapping and conflation of cultures that inform self-conceptualised identities and notions of self through performance, video, painting and textiles. Her layered textile works are sites for exploring contemporary identity construction and performance through cultural sampling, informed by her own experience within the Asian diaspora. Xa’s intricate, hand sewn wearable and performable garments stitch together a range of personally relevant imagery sourced from music, digital space, fashion, and art history. Xa has developed a system of personalised semiotics that propose entirely new images and objects, creating a personal visual language for articulating nuanced Asian identity narratives, which are frequently situated within fantastical or supernatural realms. Recent solo exhibitions include Meetings on Art performance program for the Venice Biennale open week (2019), Child of Magohalmi and the Echos of Creation, Yarat Contemporary Art Space, Baku, Azerbaijan (2019) and Soju Sipping on a Sojourn to Saturn, Galeria Agustina Ferreyra, Mexico (2018).

Jessica Taylor is the Head of Programmes at International Curators Forum. 

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Daniela Yohannes and Adelaide Bannerman in Conversation

Daniela Yohannes (lives and works in Guadeloupe, in the French Carribean) is a British-Eritrean/Ethiopian artist who, since training, as an illustrator has meandered through several disciplines before becoming an artist. Since moving to the Caribbean two years ago, her surroundings have found their way into her creations. She describes her inspiration as that of the invisible; the forces and concepts that drive and surround us: unseen but constantly at work on our bodies and minds. Her paintings and recent moving image works are witness to the expression of nature; explorations of the intimate experiences that are shared only with the elements: earth, air, water, and space. She confronts themes of the unconscious, race, identity and ancestry, the ethereal nature of the cosmos and plurality of the individual – interrogating the nature of belonging and what constitutes that feeling of ‘home’ and the impact and consequences of alienation. Recent solo exhibitions include: The Fall: A Woman’s descent into the Unconscious, Addis Fine Art Project Space London, UK, (2019), Beyond Voudou, The Pikture Gallery Bangkok, Thailand (2010) and group exhibitions Influence Project, Real Music Rebels East Wing Takeover, Somerset House London, UK, (2018) and House of Wahala Project Texas, USA (2017).

Adelaide Bannerman is Co-Producer at the International Curators Forum.

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Abdul-Rahman Abdullah and Mikala Tai in Conversation

Abdul-Rahman Abdullah (b. Port Kembla, Australia, lives and works in Perth, Australia) is a sculptor whose practice explores the different ways that memory can inhabit and emerge from familial spaces. Drawing on the narrative capacity of animal archetypes, crafted objects and the human presence, Abdullah aims to articulate physical dialogues between the natural world, politics and the agency of culture. Recent exhibitions include The National, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia (2019), Dark Horizons, Pataka Art + Museum, Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand (2017) and Magic Object, Adelaide Biennale of Australian Art, Adelaide, Australia (2016).

Mikala Tai is the director of 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, Sydney. 

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Leyla Stevens and Jessica Taylor in Conversation

Leyla Stevens (lives and works between Bali, Indonesia and Sydney, Australia) is an Australian-Balinese artist and researcher who works predominately within moving image and photography. Her practice is informed by ongoing concerns around gesture, ritual, spatial encounters, transculturation and counter histories. Working within modes of representation that shift between the documentary and speculative fictions, her work deals with a notion of counter archives and alternative genealogies. Recent exhibitions include her solo presentations Their Sea is Always Hungry, UTS Gallery, Sydney, Australia (2019) and Of Love and Decomposition, Firstdraft, Sydney, Australia (2016) and group exhibitions Breathing Room (collaboration with Woven Kolektif), Cement Fondue, Sydney, Australia (2019), BEAUT 19, Brisbane & Elsewhere Art UnTriennial, Brisbane, Australia (2018) and the John Fries Award, UNSW Galleries, Sydney, Australia (2018).

Jessica Taylor is the Head of Programmes at International Curators Forum.

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Kashif Nadim Chaudry & Mikala Tai in Conversation 

Kashif Nadim Chaudry (lives and works in Nottingham, United Kingdom) is informed by his family heritage in tailoring, which has influenced and focused his practice around the importance of materiality and craftsmanship. His work is characterised by the working, shaping and moulding of physical objects through the use of elaborate textile-based techniques to create monumental installations from fabric and found objects. Negotiating his identity as a British born gay man of Pakistani Muslim heritage much of Chaudry’s work questions how people choose to position themselves in the world. In relation, it is increasingly the sculptural and three-dimensional possibilities within his work that address the idea of positioning power, the sacred and the ceremonial. Recent exhibitions include Swags & Tails as part of the Asia Triennial, Manchester, UK (2014) and The Three Graces, Turner Contemporary, Margate, UK (2016).

Mikala Tai is the director of 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, Sydney.

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The exhibition I am a heart beating in the world: Diaspora Pavilion 2, Sydney was meant to take place between April and June 2020 but has been postponed until 2021 due to the advice given by the UK and Australian governments regarding the need for social distancing. We look forward to opening the exhibition to the public when it is safe and appropriate to do so.
All artwork images in the videos and transcripts are courtesy the artists.