Made in Birmingham/ Made in Sydney is a ground-breaking digital collaboration between the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) in Sydney and Ikon.
Fijian-Australian artist Salote Tawale and British-Pakistani artist Osman Yousefzada explore questions of identity and belonging in contemporary Australia and Britain through two new video artworks.
You can watch each of the commissions below.
SALOTE TAWALE - YOU, ME, ME, YOU (2022)
OSMAN YOUSEFZADA - Spaces of Transcendence (2022)
Salote Tawale’s work YOU, ME, ME, YOU (2022) features footage made by the artist, family and friends; it is a montage of imagery that combines role-play, television reenactments, social media posts and an imaginary pop music video.
Exploring themes of proximity, distance and friendship, this new work includes a cast of collaborators, from Tawale’s relatives, to her artist friends, the queer community in Australia and a chosen family of individuals who have been brought together by diasporic contexts, living and working away from homelands. Re-performing aspects of their shared experiences, the participants depict the loneliness, comfort, inspiration and support found within these familial and friendship networks during a period of isolation and restriction due to COVID-19.
Tawale’s video is a dedication to these important relationships in all their forms and a celebration of how our differences can unite us during difficult times.
From the perspective of her Indigenous Fijian and Anglo-Australian heritage, Tawale explores the identity of the individual drawing on her personal experiences of race, class, ethnicity and gender formed by growing up in suburban Australia. Having exhibited nationally and internationally, Tawale is also an Associate Lecturer of Screen Arts at the University of Sydney. salotetawale.com
Spaces of Transcendence (2022) is a story of environments, characters and gestures. Set in the Makli Necropolis in the Sindh province of Pakistan, it reimagines the 14th century burial ground as a site of Sufi science fiction.
The complex geometry of the three-channel film is derived from the sandstone architecture of the burial ground, carved with a myriad of Muslim, Hindu and Persian motifs. Connecting the worlds of the living and the dead, the site contains a secret language, protected by the wrapped figures carrying alams (pennons/flags) and requiring a marginalised voice to decode it. Divine access is granted by the khawaja sara (an umbrella term that encompasses all gender variant identities) whose ritualised bathing in milk and repetition of the hand and head leads to spiritual ecstasy. The circular sounds of singing bowls and solar activity are carried in the whorl of a shell and the whirl of dyeing cloth, opening portals onto Sufi cosmology and consciousness. Spaces of Transcendence calls forth an Islamic Futurism that promises to free the oppressed from social and political realities.
Osman Yousefzada has a interdisciplinary practice that revolves around modes of storytelling, merging autobiography with fiction and ritual. His work is concerned with the representation and rupture of migrational experience and makes reference to socio-political issues. These themes are explored through moving image, installation and text works, sculpture, garment making and performance.
Yousefzada had his first solo exhibition, Being Somewhere Else, at Ikon in 2018. In 2021, he wrapped the iconic Selfridges building in Infinity Pattern 1, a bold pink and black tessellated design. His formative experiences are explored in his book, The Go-Between (Canongate, 2022), opening a window onto a closed migrant community in the 80s and 90s. The world is seen through Osman’s eyes as a child: his own devout Pakistani/Afghan Pashtun community, with its divide between the world of men and women, living cheek-by-jowl with parallel migrant communities. osmanstudio.com
TELL US WHAT YOU THINK
Complete a short survey about the UK/Australia Season and help us evaluate this digital project.
About UK/Australia Season
The UK/Australia Season is a major new cultural exchange between Australia and the United Kingdom (UK) celebrating the diverse and innovative artist communities and cultural sectors of each nation. The Season is a joint initiative by the British Council and the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The theme, ‘Who Are We Now?’ will reflect on our history, explore our current relationship, and imagine our future together; providing a chance to deepen relationships in business, higher education and government.
The programme will be a celebration of the diversity of cultures and languages in both countries. It will emphasise Australia’s First Nations voices, enable cultural exchange with Wales, Scotland, England and Northern Ireland, and celebrate the diverse society that has emerged in both Australia and the UK through migration.
The first collaborative project between the MCA and Ikon, Made in Birmingham/Made in Sydney is a digital platform presented as part of the Season that reflects on the shared experiences of colonialism, migration and queer identity through the work of two rising artists.
Made in Birmingham/Made in Sydney is supported by the UK/Australia Season Patrons, the Australian Government, the British Council, and Creative Partnerships Australia through the Australian Cultural Fund as part of the UK/Australia Season 2021-22.
YOU, ME, ME, YOU (2022)
Video, colour, sound
Commissioned by Ikon and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, 2022. Courtesy and © the artist.
SPACES OF TRANSCENDENCE (2022)
Video, colour, sound
Director: Osman Yousefzada
Producer: Shahrukh Waheed
DOP: Nadir Siddiqui
Assistant camera: Anas Siddiqui
Sound design: Jack Jelfs
Editor: Hussain Qaizer
Cast: Bindiya Rana, Tamana, Sapna, Natasha
Special thanks to Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy
Commissioned by Ikon and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, 2022. Courtesy and © the artist
L-R: Osman Yousefzada in his exhibition Being Somewhere Else, 2018. Photograph: Handover UK
Salote Tawale in her studio, Artspace, Sydney, 2019, image courtesy and © the artist. Photograph: Jessica Maurer
Salote Tawale surrounded by her paintings, Perth Institute of Contemporary Art, 2021, image courtesy and © the artist. Photograph: Duncan Wright
Osman Yousefzada in his exhibition Being Somewhere Else, 2018. Photograph: James Latunji-Cockbill