Diaspora Pavilion | Venice to Wolverhampton

"Diaspora Pavilion | Venice to Wolverhampton is a re-staging of a selection of works previously shown in the exhibition Diaspora Pavilion that took place in Venice during the 57th Venice Biennale last year. The works shown here are by seven of the 19 artists who were part of the Venice show, all of who were selected due to the variety of ways that their practices engage with diaspora as a concept.
The Diaspora Pavilion grew out of a desire to provide a space for artists to pose counter-narratives that interrogate the notion of diaspora and a topical interest in the impact of increased global mobility, displacement and migration on culture. The idea of diaspora here functions as a tool with which to explore how artistic practice has been influenced by cross-cultural exchange."

- Wolverhampton Art Gallery

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Recently I went to Wolverhampton Art Gallery to see the Diaspora Pavilion exhibition, and after seeing posts about it on social media I knew it wouldn't disappoint. It was interesting to see all of these artists interpretations of the Diasporic experience, especially since people are still having to leave, or rather flee, from their homeland today. Coming from an Asian background I feel I should know more about this topic, which is the reason why it was nice to see so many interpretations shown together so that I can get more of an insight.  All of the works in this exhibition are very strong visual pieces, but in this post I thought I would share some of my favourites.

[Diaspora - the dispersion or spread of any

people from their original homeland]

Paul Maheke: The River Asked for a Kiss

The River Asked for a Kiss by Paul Maheke was one of my favourite pieces at the exhibition. There are references to the Venetian canal within this work because of Maheke's interest in using water as a subject through which to explore issues around migration and displacement. I liked the calming atmosphere in this room because of the amount of natural light that filled it, but also how the flowing fabric seemed to interpret the movement of water.

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susan pui san lok: Golden

This installation by susan pui san lok is from her on-going work Golden, in which she is exploring nostalgia and aspiration. It's composed of shimmering gold curtains alongside audio pieces and a video. This installation was a great experience because you're able to walk amongst the golden curtain, again seeing its movement and how it interacts the the light in the room.

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Abbas Zahedi: MANNA: Machine Aided Natural Networking of Affect

This work was exhibited over a few spaces in the gallery. The first piece I saw was an installation in a room on the ground floor of the gallery which had a totally different experience from the other rooms I'd been in so far. It was almost creepy. The staircase that led to a space that couldn't be seen seemed to remind me of the secret annexe that Anne Frank had gone into hiding in. Then in another space there was the photograph placed on the floor showing clearly the Islamic references. It was interesting to see how the Asian culture was interpreted in this single photo.

Kitmathi Donkor: Bacchus and Ariadne

Other works were more violent in nature, for example the work of Kitmathi Donkor which, from a curatorial point of view was interestingly displayed amongst existing art works at the gallery in order to disrupt different historical moments. An example of this can be seen in the photo below. There are obvious differences that can be seen between both works, but the reason why I couldn't stop looking at these two pieces together was because of the similarities. In both frames you can see figures looking upwards with the same angle towards another figure who is looking down at them in the same angle too, the violent streak coming across in Donkor's painting making them worlds apart. It's highly likely that whenever I go to a gallery the paintings are very pleasant to look at, often showing off the wealth of the subjects in the photo because historically speaking paintings were only made for and of those who were wealthy , but I don't recall seeing paintings like Donkor's, displaying the racial violence that comes along with the Diasporic experience.


Diaspora Pavilion | Venice to Wolverhampton is on at Wolverhampton Art Gallery until 29th April 2018. I highly recommend you go and take a look. If you do, comment below or send me a tweet on @yasminqureshi_ letting me know you thoughts!