Elsewhere is a major commission and the first solo exhibition in the UK by Alia Farid. Working in film, sculpture, and textile, Farid traces histories often marginalised or obscured by the Global North. In her artworks, communities, local practices, and traditions are reconsidered, giving the rhythms of everyday life political significance and potency.
Sixteen hand-woven and embroidered rugs span the length of the gallery. Drawing from photographs, archival material, and interviews with local people, the works detail cityscapes – buildings, shop fronts, and adverts – that conjure the presence of the Palestinian diaspora in Puerto Rico. Pharmacies and restaurants, owned and operated by Palestinians, are woven alongside brightly coloured mosques and a menu detailing ‘Arabic cuisine’.
The result of a close collaboration with weavers in Samawa, in southern Iraq, the textiles have been crafted through a combination of flat weaving and chain stitching specific to the region. Architecture, script (Arabic and Spanish), and traditional woven motifs recur throughout, illuminating how migration from one region in the Global South to another, brings forth new meanings, forms, and expressions of shared struggle and solidarity. Hanging in two parallel rows, the installation creates panoramic views, and a layering of lived history and daily routine.
Elsewhere is a growing material archive that traces the ways styles, symbols, rituals, and other social devices coalesce across continents. It is the first chapter of an ongoing research project, initially conceived in 2013, which maps Arab and South Asian migration to Latin America and the Caribbean. Other sites of investigation include Trinidad, Cuba, and Mexico. In this accumulative and iterative process, Elsewhere marks one crossroads on an intricate map.
As part of the commissioning process, a series of events will be programmed in collaboration with Farid which will run throughout her exhibition. Farid’s exhibition concludes Chisenhale Gallery’s Commissions Programme for 2023–24, which comprised new commissions by artists Ravelle Pillay, Lotus Laurie Kang, and Benoît Piéron. Spanning painting, photography, sculpture, and textile, the programme addressed the body – its movements through space and time, and its physical, emotional, and material imprints.
Elsewhere is produced by Chisenhale Gallery, London, and co-commissioned by Chisenhale Gallery, London; Passerelle Centre d’art contemporain, Brest; The Power Plant, Toronto; and Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna. It will be exhibited at CAC Passerelle, Brest from 23 February to 18 May 2024 and Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna thereafter.
Press release from Chisenhale Gallery
Image: Alia Farid. Installation view of Elsewhere at Chisenhale Gallery, London, 2023. Produced by Chisenhale Gallery, London. Commissioned by Chisenhale Gallery, London; Passerelle Centre d’art contemporain, Brest; and The Power Plant, Toronto. Photography by Andy Keate. Image courtesy of Chisenhale Gallery, London