Azerbaijan New Contemporary Art Center to Open in 2015

Carpet Interior, a project by Farid Rasulov commissioned by YARAT through YAY Gallery. Photo: courtesy Farid Rasulov and YAY Gallery.

Come March, Azerbaijan will be home to YARAT Contemporary Art Space, a new exhibition space for the not-for-profit arts organization YARAT. As reported by ArtDaily, the center, located in Baku, overlooking the Caspian Sea, was formerly a Soviet-era naval headquarters.

YARAT hopes to become a regional hub for contemporary art and art education, with a permanent collection focused on artists from the surrounding area, particularly the Caucasus and Central Asia. The organization was founded in 2011 to help promote contemporary art in Azerbaijan, and to offer an international platform for local artists.

Temporary programming will feature international artists exploring issues of importance to Azerbaijani culture in their work. Inaugurating the new space will be an exhibition by New York-based Iranian artist Shirin Neshat that will include newly commissioned work.

“I am delighted we’ve reached this milestone in YARAT’s work,” said YARAT founder and creative director Aida Mahmudova in a statement. “This center will give us even more opportunity to engage with artists, audiences and institutions internationally to further develop our education program which is at the core of our activities. For centuries Baku has been a site for exchange and creativity, our art center will extend this within a contemporary context.”

Through exhibitions and public festivals across the city, YARAT has already reached a wide audience with over 80 commissioned projects. It opened YAY Gallery in 2012, where artists share proceeds with YARAT, and in 2014 unveiled a number of artists’ studios dedicated to its artist-in-residence program. At the 2013 Venice Biennale, YARAT presented the exhibition “Love Me, Love Me Not,” a show of the work of contemporary artists from Azerbaijan, Iran, Russia, Turkey, and Georgia.

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