23 August 2019

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Shilpa Gupta and Zarina Hashmi: Altered Inheritances / Home is a Foreign Place

18 March


Alserkal Avenue has acquired another interesting arts institution: the Ishara Art Foundation opens its new art space there on 18 March with two floors of exhibition space.

The opening show, Altered Inheritances: Home is a Foreign Place is described as a conversation between Shilpa Gupta and Zarina, hinged around two key works by both artists from the Ishara collection which resonate with the condition of being South Asian in the Gulf; at home, but yet elsewhere.

The exhibition features work made from the 1970s to the present, and will reframe the idea of belonging with poetic and personal evocations of how geographical dislocation transforms ordinary lives. Its reference points are around the borders of South Asia, but with an awareness of migration and mobility as globally resonant experiences in our times.

Zarina uses a line from the poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz in a work exploring the lines of the horizon around Santa Cruz and Monterey Bay, where she lived and taught. Magar dil hai ke is ki khana-e-viraani nahin jaati / But the heart is such that it does not stop feeling bereft. Through letters from her family that she transformed into collage, it is known that the family house was eventually sold. Shilpa Gupta’s latest work (currently on view at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale) developed from exhaustive research into international poets who spoke truth to power; echoes of the project enter Ishara’s inaugural exhibition. Poems are spoken into glass bottles, a life-size bronze cast of a mouth is accompanied by an enigmatic line of text; in the final work of the exhibition, Speaking Wall (2009-2010), a poetic conversation with a person who is beyond reach allows audiences to experience the pathos of division.

To 23 June.

The Foundation has been established by Smita Prabhakar, UAE-based collector and patron of the arts, whose collection will form the backbone of the exhibition programme – though we are also promised loans, new commissions and touring exhibitions. Ishara claims to be the first independent institution in the region that s dedicated to expanding knowledge and understanding of contemporary South Asian art and artists in West Asia. As the blurb puts it: “With close proximity and links to South Asia, and taking advantage of the UAE’s growth as a cultural hub, Ishara will establish a new meeting point for artistic and intellectual exchange across the region”.

Above: Zarina, Beyond the Stars, 2014, Below: Shilpa Gupta, Untitled, 2015


18 March
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Ishara Art Foundation
Alserkal Avenue
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