ICF and 4A present ‘I am a heart beating in the world: Diaspora Pavilion 2, Sydney’

Exhibition dates: 16 April – 7 June 2020
Exhibition opening: Thursday 16 April 6-8pm
Location: 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art (1
81 – 187 Hay Street, Sydney, Australia)

Exhibiting artists: Abdul-Rahman Abdullah, Kashif Nadim Chaudry, Lindy Lee, Leyla Stevens, Zadie Xa and Daniela Yohannes.
Curators: Adelaide Bannerman, Mikala Tai and Jessica Taylor.

I am a heart beating in the world is the first of a series of peripatetic international events that culminate in the second edition of International Curators Forum’s (ICF) Diaspora Pavilion being planned to take place during the Venice Biennale 2021. 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art 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 Caribbean: Abdul-Rahman Abdullah, Kashif Nadim Chaudry, Lindy Lee, Leyla Stevens, Zadie Xa, Daniela Yohannes.

Understanding diaspora as a distinct sometimes provisional experience nuanced economically, historically and regionally I am a heart beating in the world is as much an exhibition as it is a research project, underpinned by fieldwork and reviews of how artists, curators, theorists and institutions engage with diaspora as a topic. 4A’s biannual 4A Curators Intensive will be held alongside the exhibition in April bringing together early-career Australian curators alongside a UK based early career curator for a week-long professional development programme. The intensive will be facilitated through workshops, lectures, site visits and discussions.

This project is made possible with the support of the Outset Partners Grant.

Artist Biographies:

Abdul-Rahman Abdullah (b. Port Kembla, Australia 1977 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 ObjectAdelaide Biennale of Australian Art, Adelaide, Australia (2016).

Kashif Nadim Chaudry (b. Nottingham, United Kingdom 1976 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).

Lindy Lee (b. Brisbane, Australia 1954 lives and works in Byron Bay, Australia) has an expansive practice that explores her Chinese ancestry through Taoism and Ch’an (Zen) Buddhism – philosophies that see humanity and nature as inextricably linked. Symbolic gestures and processes that call on the element of chance are often used to produce a galaxy of images that embody the intimate connections between human existence and the cosmos. Rather than singular visual statements, they are thoughtful objects where meaning emerges from sustained meditation. Recent exhibitions include the solo Lindy Lee: The Dark of Absolute Freedom, The University of Queensland Art Museum, Brisbane, Australia (2014), and group exhibitions Divided Worlds: Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia (2018) and Marking Time, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia (2012).

Leyla Stevens (b. Cooroy, Australia 1982 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).

Daniela Yohannes (b. 1982 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).

Zadie Xa (b. Vancouver, Canada 1983 lives and works in London, United Kingdom) explores the overlapping and conflation of cultures that inform self-conceptualisation identities and notion 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).

Image: Zadie Xa, Child of Magohalmi and the Echos of Creation, live performance as part of Art Night London 2019, devised with and performed by Iris Chan, Jia-Yu Corti, Mary Feliciano, Jihye Kim and Yumino Seki, percussion: Jihye Kim, choreographed by Jia-Yu Corti and Yumino Seki; photo: Matt Rowe.