Inspiration from 2020

On the last day of the year, we take a look back at some of the team and trustees’ most inspiring moments of 2020.

This year marked the 30th anniversary of the Bagri Foundation and we couldn’t be prouder of all the artists, collaborators, and partners with whom we worked. However, we are eternally grateful to the resilience and the power of imagination of many arts organisations, writers, artists, musicians and creative practitioners that inspired us throughout these past 12 months. Here are some of our top picks from 2020, many of which are still available online.

Museum Moment of Zen

Asian Art Museum, San Francisco

This YouTube series was released earlier this year and we were mesmerised by the detailed discussion of these beautiful Buddhist objects. These five short videos tell you about specific Buddha sculptures and other images, their background stories, symbolism and how to utilise them for meditative purposes. During a difficult year, we enjoyed the calming nature of this series. 

View the entire series on the Asian Art Museum YouTube playlist here.

Film still from YouTube video

Bill T. Jones and Lee Mingwei: Our Labyrinth

The Met, New York

Presented by MetLiveArts and New York Live Arts, we were struck by the slow and methodical movement in this series of live performances. OUR LABYRINTH echoed the art of Zen – beauty in simplicity – with sand and brushes like those found in Japanese Gardens, yet with Jones’ additional choreography which embraced a range of dance styles, from ballet to hip hop, modern, vogue, and more.

View the entire series of performances on the MetLiveArts YouTube playlist here. 

A dancer stands on the left in a black tank top and white loose trousers holding a brush. Sand is spread across a black floor.
Film still from Our Labryinth on YouTube

Main tenu pher milan gi (I will meet you again) 

by Amrita Pritam​

Pritam was the first prominent female Punjabi poet, essayist and novelist who wrote in both Punjabi and Hindi. Her poem Main tenu pher milan gi moved us with her passion and force. This is possibly one of the most intense love poems ever written.

Find out more about Amrita Pritam through her obituary here and see a wonderful reading of her poem by Divya Dutta from Rekhta on Facebook here.

Amrita Pritam
Amrita Pritam

Cao Fei: Blueprints

Serpentine Galleries, London

A solo exhibition by one of China’s most important artists, ‘Blueprints’ presented a range of film, VR and sculptural installations from across Cao Fei’s practice.  Past and future meet with Sci-Fi tropes and a humorous, yet subversive way of looking at our increasingly digital lives. Being at the forefront of immense change in China, Cao Fei’s works include warehouses and empty theatres (slated to be demolished in real life), dioramas, and the rebuilding of these spaces in her first Virtual Reality work ‘The Eternal Wave’.  Stunning!

Find out more on the Serpentine Gallery website, but this five star Guardian Review by Hettie Judah captured the exhibition pretty well we think. 

Cao Fei, Blueprints (Installation view, Serpentine Gallery, 2020) Photo credit: Gautier Deblonde

Alif

by Umera Ahmed

Ahmed is one of the most widely-read and popular Urdu fiction novelists and screenplay writers of this era. This serial radio drama and book redefines the self-fulfilment of women as individuals.  It has a strong spiritual message that is never lost in some grand romance, rather it replaces the ephemeral spirit of worldly love with attachment to the divine. A masterpiece!

You can listen to the entire series on Youtube in Urdu or purchase the book online.

40 Days to Learn Film in Lockdown

by Mark Cousins and Hopscotch Films

As cinema lovers, we were excited to see film maker, writer and critic Mark Cousins release a free online course encouraging us to look at film through specific lenses. From ‘Movement’ to ‘Focus’ and ‘Tension’ to ‘Love’, Cousins shares examples and highlights from a range of international filmmakers, many of them women, and many from Asia. A very enjoyable 2 hours of film, compiled into ’40 days’ of learning.

View the film on YouTube here or vimeo here.

Mark Cousins

A Life on Our Planet

by David Attenborough

Undeniably one of the most influential films and books released this year, A Life on Our Planet was life-changing for us and many others. This documentary delivers a stark warning that time is ticking for the planet or maybe for us. Attenborough reflects upon both the defining moments of his lifetime as a naturalist and the devastating changes he has seen. He then offers practical ways forward and hope for the future. It’s an emotional, urgent call to action. 

You can still stream the film on Netflix, and the book provides a more detailed look at the issues raised.

Ebury Press

#WIP - Work in Progress

by Queer Art Projects

There is a little gem of a curatorial project we have been enjoying since October: #WIP – Work in Progress. Conceived by Queer Art Projects, London-based Turkish curatorial duo Tuna Erdem and Seda Ergul, #WIP invites six international curators and 37 artists to focus on a digital programme that embraces the incomplete and the ongoing; the trial and the error; and the endless rehearsals. Through visual art, performances, workshops and online events, #WIP invites you to explore artistic processes in a time of constant change.

The exhibition is online until the 15th of January at this link.

Website screenshot showing a work by Walid Siti.

The Art of Stillness

by Pico Iyer

It was difficult to choose a book that resonated with us so much in 2020. The Art of Stillness by Pico Iyer, originally released in 2014, had a bit of a comeback given the state of the world this year. Iyer took part in interviews via literature festivals and on websites which revisited some of the key ideas in his book about ‘adventures in going nowhere’. A highly recommended read.

You can view his TED talk about The Art of Stillness here.

MARSM Playlists

We have really been enjoying the Arabic music that MARSM has been putting together over these past few months. MARSM is a London-based concert producer and organiser for alternative and underground Arabic music events in the UK. 

With no live events in 2020, they creatively launched themed playlists which can be viewed from Youtube or Spotify. Listeners can enjoy curated topics such as ‘Egyptian Film Music’, ‘Trumpeters from the East’, ‘Gulf Music,’ ‘100 years of Oud’ and more!

You can view them all on MARSM’s website here.

Screen Shot 2020-12-29 at 12.52.53

Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life

Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles

Described as “inspiring and comforting”, we completely agree. This book highlights tools to discover your potential for a long, happy and healthy life. Originally released in 2017, it felt right to read again this year, as urges us to leave urgency behind, find our purpose and immerse ourselves into our passions.

Available at local bookstores, lifestyle shops and online.

Published by Hutchinson

Bandish Bandit (the album)

by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy

Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s brilliant soundtrack starts with pop fusion and upbeat music before it moves into classical pop. The final part of the album moves into the less commercial Hindi music and one of our favourites – Hindustani classical! Here is where the soundtrack stands out and is pure delight! 

Listen to it on Spotify, iTunes or watch the series on Amazon Prime. 

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