Arts Organizations Forge New Ties Between North England and South Asia

Funded by the Arts Council England, 'New North and South' will support South Asian art in the UK and abroad.

Neha Choksi, In Leaf (Primary Time) (2015). Live performance for Hayward Gallery. Photo courtesy of the artist and Project 88, Mumbai.

A group of 11 art organizations announced today New North and South, a major contemporary art network bridging the North of England and South Asia. Art galleries, museums, biennials, and a summit in the cities of Manchester, Leeds, and Liverpool in the UK, and South Asian cities of Colombo in Sri Lanka, Dhaka in Bangladesh, Lahore and Karachi in Pakistan, and Kochi in India, will cooperate on a three-year program of exhibitions, commissions, and events funded by the Arts Council England.

2017 marks the 70th anniversary of Indian and Pakistani Independence, the end of British rule in South Asia. Now, artistic cooperation between the two regions, in the form of an exchange-oriented program of co-commissions and exhibitions, will, according to a statement, “celebrate shared heritage across continents and develop artistic talent.” It “aims to connect with diverse audiences on both continents […] and also explore unequal and contested histories of empire and the Industrial Revolution.”

Reena Saini Kallat, <I>Woven Chronicle</I> (2011/2016). Photo courtesy the artist.

Reena Saini Kallat, Woven Chronicle (2011/2016). Photo courtesy the artist.

The program will begin in March with an ambitious program of art and social history exhibitions, screenings, and events at the Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester Museum, and Whitworth in Manchester, and the Tetley center for Contemporary Art in Leeds. These range from a retrospective of Indian photographer Sooni Taraporevala and the first major UK exhibition of Raqs Media Collective, to special exhibitions of the institutions’ collections of South Asian textiles and design, and surveys of Indian Modernists.

The program also includes residencies for mid-career South Asian artists hosted by the Liverpool Biennial, which will facilitate co-commissions for that biennial and the Pakistani biennials in Lahore and Karachi.

Sooni Taraporevala, <I>Salim and Tukloo, Bombay 1987</i>. Photo courtesy the artist and Sunaparanta.

Sooni Taraporevala, Salim and Tukloo, Bombay 1987. Photo courtesy the artist and Sunaparanta.

For emerging artists, the Samdani Award, an effort of the Samdani Art Foundation, which also funds and organizes the biennial Dhaka Arts Summit, the “largest non-commercial platform for South Asian art,” will continue to recognize young Bangladeshi artists, enhanced by the Liverpool Biennial’s mentoring and commissioning opportunities.

The other entities involved in the network are the Colombo Biennale, the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, and the British Council. Further projects will be announced later this year.

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