University of NonDualism – a new project for Frieze LIVE by Shezad Dawood

Shezad Dawood, University, From University of NonDualism 2019, Textile and Tapestry bricolage and Acrylic, with hanging system,184,5 x 145 cm. Courtesy of the Artist, Jhaveri Contemporary, Mumbai and Timothy Taylor, London.

3–6 October, 2019

We are delighted to announce Shezad Dawood’s participation in this year’s edition of Frieze LIVE curated by Diana Campbell Betancourt with a newly commissioned multi-layered performance work, made possible with the generous support of the Bagri Foundation and presented by Jhaveri Contemporary and Timothy Taylor.

Developed through a series of ongoing conversations and a shared fascination with architectural modernism in South Asia between curator Campbell Betancourt and artist Shezad Dawood, Dawood has been invited to unveil some of these key ideas at Frieze this year.

University of NonDualism is a series of collaborations built around a ‘stage set’ conceived by Dawood which takes its starting point from the work of Muzharul Islam, a modernist architect, urban planner, educator and activist hailing from Bangladesh (1923–2012). Considered the Grand Master of regional modernism in South Asia, Islam’s style and influence dominated Bangladesh’s architectural scene in the 1960s and 70s. Islam was instrumental in bringing major US architects such as Louis Kahn, Richard Neutra, Stanley Tigerman, Paul Rudolph and Robert Boughey to work in Dhaka.

Dawood is particularly interested in the idea of advaita, or non-binary thinking, and how Islam embodies this in his architecture and writings, neither opposing the modern to the vernacular, nor the rural to the urban, but instead looking for ways to integrate these modes within his buildings.

Referencing Islam’s legacy and his approach to non-dualism, the project enacts a series of characteristic dynamic collaborations with fashion designer Priya Ahluwalia (Ahluwalia Studio), electronic music producer patten and choreographer Adrienne Hart (Neon Dance). Dawood creates a synergy between these artists’ cross-disciplinary approaches akin to Islam who regularly collaborated with artists, poets and singers.

Drawing on the startlingly futuristic geometry of Islam’s drawings, Dawood’s adaptable ‘stage set’ functions somewhere between architecture and tapestry. Dawood has been developing a notion of ‘paintings without painting’, that are created through the collaging and sewing of different textile elements. These works also function as hangings and room dividers into which a slipstream of dancers activate the space dressed in androgynous apparel developed with Ahluwalia Studio to reflect where the body and the fabric become architecture. Their clothing becomes an extension of the architectural and fabric elements of the setting – in such a way that specific lines and geometry continue across the dancers and ripple as they move and contort within the space. A new score by patten is being commissioned especially for the performance and will layer sounds examining the influence of Bengali polymath Rabindranath Tagore on Muzharul Islam, but also on the later more spiritual work of Alice Coltrane.

University of NonDualism will be Dawood’s fourth body of work looking at South Asian Modernism, an interest that began with his 2010 project Cities of the Future that explored the relationship between Corbusier and Tantra in the development of the planned city of Chandigarh. And further projects relating to Antonin and Noémi Raymond’s work in Pondicherry and Richard Neutra’s proposed embassy in Karachi. This collective line of inquiry looks at specific fault lines between the modern, the non-aligned movement and the Cold War across South Asia after Partition, and has been exhibited amongst others at the Gwangju and Sharjah Biennales.

University of NonDualism will travel to Dhaka Art Summit in Bangladesh in 2020 working with local classical dancers and beyond in an exhibition curated by Diana Campbell Betancourt with Sean Anderson (Associate Curator in the Department of Architecture and Design at MoMA, New York) and Nurur Khan (Muzharul Islam Archives) opening on February 7, 2020.

“The sun and the rain, the play of shade and shadow and ventilation – these were the points to work on. While arriving at my solutions, my intention was not to take direct reference from tradition – rather it was more vital to allow a modernist logic work its own way. Decoration was one thing to be avoided – and the theme was to keep the materials own character, make intelligent use of geometry, proportion and achieve overall simple efficiency. While keeping in tune with the contemporary aesthetic trends of the world, the goal was also to stay faithful to the country’s culture and climate”.

Muzharul Islam, quoted in Muzharul Islam – Selected Drawings, Nurur Rahman Khan, Published by Sthapattya O Nirman, Bangladesh, 2010


About Shezad Dawood:
Shezad Dawood works across disciplines to deconstruct systems of image, language, site and narrative. Using the editing process as a method to explore both meaning and form, his practice often involves collaboration and knowledge exchange, mapping across geographic borders and communities. Recent solo exhibitions include: Leviathan, Bluecoat Liverpool (2019) Leviathan, Mostyn, Wales (2018); Leviathan, Fondazione Querini Stampalia, Venice (2017); Timothy Taylor, London (2016); Pioneer Works, Brooklyn (2015); Fig.2 at the ICA studio, London (2015); Parasol Unit, London and OCAT Xi’an, China (2014), Modern Art Oxford (2012). And group exhibitions include: Sharjah Biennale SB14 (2019); Gwangju Biennial (2018); Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, Delhi (2018); Rubin Museum of Art, New York (2018); Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2016); Taipei Biennial, Marrakech Biennial, MACBA Barcelona (all 2014).

About patten
patten, (established 2006, works London/Worldwide) is a producer renowned for hi-tech immersive AV shows and cross-platform projects. Recent work includes AV shows at the ICA and Tate Modern, creative direction for Dan Snaith’s Daphni alias, and establishing the 555-5555 forum following their creative agency of the same name.

About Ahluwalia Studio
Priya Ahluwalia graduated with a masters in Menswear from the University of Westminster in 2018. Ahluwalia’s graduate collection was showcased during London Fashion Week: Men’s and went on to receive industry-wide recognition, being featured in i-D, Vogue UK, Dazed & Confused and New York Times among others. In November 2018, Ahluwalia went on to win the H&M Design Award 2019. Through her newly established brand, “Ahluwalia Studio”, Priya takes elements from her dual Indian-Nigerian heritage and London roots and explores the life of vintage and dead stock clothing, using textile techniques to give them new life.

About Adrienne Hart 
Adrienne Hart works internationally as a choreographer and as Artistic Director of Neon Dance, funded and supported by Arts Council England, British Council and Sadler’s Wells amongst others. Her latest work ‘PuzzleCreature’ premiered as part of Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial in 2018 and in 2019 Adrienne will return to Japan as a participating artist of Setouchi Art Triennale.

About the Bagri Foundation
The Bagri Foundation is a UK registered charity, inspired by creative, unique and unexpected ideas that weave the traditional and the contemporary of Asian culture. The Foundation is driven by curiosity, a desire to learn and supports myriad of exciting artistic programmes that challenge, engage and inspire. Through a diverse programme of film, visual arts, music, dance, literature, courses and lectures, Bagri Foundation gives artists and experts from across Asia, or those inspired by the continent, wider visibility on the global stage. Find out more here:

About Dhaka Art Summit
An international non-commercial research and exhibition platform for art and architecture related to South Asia, the Dhaka Art Summit seeks to re-examine how we think about these art forms in a regional and wider context, with a focus on Bangladesh. Free for all and ticketless, the Summit’s 2018 edition drew over 300,000 local and 800 international visitors over its nine-day duration.Founded in 2012, DAS is produced and supported by the Samdani Art Foundation and its network, with additional support from the Bangladesh government through the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, People’s Republic of Bangladesh, and partnerships with the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy as well as the National Museum and National Art Gallery of Bangladesh. DAS is led by Chief Curator Diana Campbell Betancourt and local and international collaborators, invited to unlock new areas of inquiry through exhibitions, experimental writing initiatives, film and talks schedules, all supported by an ambitious commissions programme.

Special thanks to:

Jhaveri Contemporary, Timothy Taylor, Eva Martinez at Sadlers Wells

For further information contact Miranda Sharp

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