‘A Drop of Sky’ 3rd Baku Public Art Festival

13 Jun > 05 Sep 15

YARAT Contemporary Art Space

‘A Drop of Sky’

3rd Baku Public Art Festival

13 June > 5 October 2015

Baku, Azerbaijan


Commissioned by YARAT Contemporary Art Space, A Drop of Sky is the 3rd Public Art Festival in Baku and will run 13 June - 5 October 2015 Coinciding with the first European Games, and benefiting from the broad international audience who will be in Baku, over this period, the Public Art Festival will give both residents and visitors to Baku the chance to see a range of events held within the frame of the Festival. Participating artists include Wafaa Bilal, Ergin Çavuşoğlu, Farhad Farzaliyev and Nazrin Mammadova. Artworks will be displayed at various locations throughout the city as well as through a web based technological component that explores the virtual public art platform. The festival will be accompanied by an education programme including a film club, artist talks and a two week workshop, AA Baku school: a collaboration with Architecture Association in London led by architects and AA tutors Omid Kamvari and Kasper Ax.

Curated by Sara Raza, Guggenheim UBS MAP Curator for the Middle East and North Africa and YARAT Head of Education, the festival investigates how contemporary artists and audiences perceive the rapidly developing natural, scientific and technological changes currently occurring in Baku and beyond. Taking inspiration from the poetry and thinking of Russian Futurist Velimir Khlebnikov, the festival explores ideas pertaining to poetry, philosophy, astronomy, logic and illogic. Referencing the city’s rich history as a major trade port and its recent urban gentrification, A Drop of Sky responds to ideas concerning nostalgia for both the past and the future and the point at which the  ancient and the modern intersect.

Launching the festival on 13 June, Turkish-Bulgarian artist Ergin Çavuşoğlu will present a special site-specific anamorphic perspective floor drawing within the Old City entitled ‘Liquid Breeding’ (2015). The work explores both the artist’s longstanding interest in the work of conceptual pioneer Marcel Duchamp and the vertical and horizontal expansion of Baku. Çavuşoğlu’s drawing has been appropriated from a three-dimensional architectural model, which the artist invites audiences to walk across. The everyday act of walking is recorded by a camera, which relays these recordings onto a monitor that presents the illusion of audiences walking within a sculpture. Çavuşoğlu will talk at the YARAT Contemporary Art Centre on 13 June about his work for the festival.

Further probing Baku’s architectural expansion, emerging artist Nazrin Mammadova reimagines the future regeneration of the city of Baku through the medium of her video game ‘OUROBORUM’ (2015), launching in July 22,  through which she invites gamers to participate in a stimulating and playful reconstruction of a new future city. ‘OUROBORUM’ is named after the ancient Greek tail biting snake, a popular symbol of the cycle of renewal, and draws on several Azerbaijani cultural tropes, ranging from histories, geometric pattern language, futuristic architecture and traditional and contemporary local music. It will be available to download for free on iOS platforms, or installed in situ in the YARAT Contemporary Art Centre.

Farhad Farzaliyev’s neon billboard project entitled ‘Göydə Göy Göyərti Göyərdi' ('Green Grass in the Sky Turned Blue’) (2015) launching 26 June is a poetic tongue twister that toys with language and lyricism. By re-appropriating the language of commercial advertising through the repetitive of the use of the same consonants in multiple neon words Farzaliyev investigates the objects of public daily consumption and how these are sometimes absurdly processed through text, language and alliteration. In reversing the relationship between the ground and the sky the artist aims to confuse viewers both logically and linguistically and provide a humorous commentary on everyday commercialism and semiotics. 

At the beginning of October, Iraqi-American artist Wafaa Bilal will be creating a special rendition of the camera obscura sculpture entitled ‘The Hierarchy of Being,’ which was originally commissioned by Maraya Art Park in the United Arab Emirates in 2013. Bilal’s project is inspired by pioneering Islamic scientists, in particular the work of two influential Iraqi scientists in the field of optics and kinetic motion; Ibn al-Haytham and Ibn Al-Jazari, active during the Golden Age of Islam circa 750 - 1258 CE. In the context of Baku, Bilal looks at the relationship between architecture and the public as part of a permanent installation along the coastline of the Caspian Sea in Baku that seeks to slow down the motion of a city ‘on the move.’

In conjunction with the festival, a lively education programme of artist talks will commence in June. A series of film screenings inspired by science fiction and futurism will run from July to August at YARAT Contemporary Art Centre’s auditorium and open air cinema on the rooftop of YAY Gallery. The programme will include works by contemporary artists and filmmakers including Larissa Sansour, Shezad Dawood, Deniz Uster and Vahid Vakilifar. In addition, a two week special workshop orchestrated by the AA Baku School, formed in collaboration with the Architecture Association in London will be led by architects and AA tutors Omid Kamvari and Kasper Ax. The AA Baku School will be the first of its kind in the Caucasus region providing a space for architects, writers, artists and thinkers to converge and participate in an intensive workshop exploring current ideas on spatial thinking. 


3rd Baku Public Art Festival Programme:

13 June 2015 

Venue: near Kichik Galart Gallery, Old City 

Ergin Çavuşoğlu (UK)

Presentation 'Liquid Breeding', anamorphic perspective floor drawing

Venue: YARAT Centre Contemporary Art Centre

Ergin Çavuşoğlu (UK)

Artist talk with Sara Raza

26 June 2015 

Venue: 28 May street, Baku

Farkhad Farzaliyev (Azerbaijan)   

‘GÖYDƏ GÖY GÖYƏRTİ GÖYƏRDİ' ('Green Grass in the Sky Turned Blue’)

3 July 2015 

​Venue: YARAT Centre Contemporary Art Centre

Vahid Valikifar (Iran)      

Film screening: 'Taboor' 

10 July 2015 

Venue: YARAT Centre Contemporary Art Centre

Larisa Sansour (UK)

Film screening 'Nation Estate` in the presence of the artist

22 July 2015 

​Venue: YARAT Centre Contemporary Art Centre

Nazrin Mammadova (Azerbaijan)

'OUROBORUM' video game presentation

11 August 2015 

Venue: YAY Gallery rooftop

Deniz Uster (Turkey)

Open Air Cinema / Film Screening: 'Beyond is before'

18 August 2015 

Venue: YAY Gallery rooftop

Shezad Dawood (UK)

Open Air Cinema / Film Screening: 'Towards of a possible'

25 August > 10 September 2015 

Venue: TBC

AA Baku School

2 weeks summer school by Omid Kamvari & Kasper Ax. 

(Apply before 15 August 2015) 

5 October 2015 

Time: 7 pm 

Venue: TBC

Wafaa Bilal (USA)

The Hierarchy of Being launches at – please do not put any location for now    


Notes to Editors / Exhibition details

Title: A Drop of Sky

Location: Various, Baku, Azerbaijan

Exhibition dates: 13 June - 5 October, 2015

Website: http://www.yarat.az/en

Twitter: @yaratartspace 

Facebook: facebook.com/Yarat.Art 

Instagram: @yaratcontemporaryartspace


About the Curator

Sara Raza (b. 1979, Surrey, UK) is the Guggenheim UBS MAP Curator for the Middle East and North Africa, the Head of Education and Public Programmes at YARAT Contemporary Art Centre, and the desk editor for West and Central Asia of ArtAsiaPacific magazine. Over the past ten years Raza has organized numerous exhibitions at institutions including the Maraya Art Centre in Sharjah (2011-14) where she worked with artists such as Adel Abidin, Wafaa Bilal, and Mohammend Kazem; and Alaan Artspace in Riyadh, where she served as Founding Curator of Exhibitions and Education programmes, organizing Soft Power – an exhibition of three female Saudi Arabian artists (2012).  Raza also co-curated Rhizoma, an exhibition of emerging, young, Saudi Arabian artists commissioned by Edge of Arabia at the 55th Venice Biennale (2013).

Raza holds a Masters in Art History and Theory (20th Century) from Goldsmiths College, University of London, and is currently a Ph.D. candidate, researching contemporary art of Central Asia, at the Royal College of Art. She is currently editing a book on her research entitled Punk Orientalism.


About the artists

Wafaa Bilal (b.1966, Iraq) is renowned for provoking dialogue around international politics and internal dynamics through high profile, technologically-driven art projects that employ the use of robotics, the internet, and photographic mobile mapping. Bilal’s work is constantly informed by the experience of fleeing his homeland and existing simultaneously in two worlds – his home in the ‘comfort zone’ of the U.S. and his consciousness of the ‘conflict zone’ in Iraq. He holds a BFA from the University of New Mexico and an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is currently an Associate Arts Professor at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts.


Ergin Çavuşoğlu (b.1968, Bulgaria) studied at The National School of Fine Arts ‘Iliya Petrov’, Sofia in the early 1980s. He consequently received a BA from the University of Marmara, Istanbul, MA from Goldsmiths, University of London, and a PhD from University of Portsmouth. He currently lives and works in London, UK. Central to Çavuşoğlu’s conceptual art practice are themes that examine notions of place, liminality and the conditions of cultural production, which he has been exploring in a diversity of media, including narrative film, video and sound installations, sculpture and drawing. Çavuşoğlu represented Turkey at the 50th Venice Biennale in 2003. He was shortlisted for the Beck’s Futures Prize in 2004, and in 2010 for Artes Mundi 4 – the UK's biggest international contemporary art prize. 


Farhad Farzaliyev (b.1989 Baku, Azerbaijan) completed an MFA with distinction at the Azerbaijan State Architecture and Construction University in Baku (2012). He works predominantly in the medium of installations, but also paintings, graphics, photography and sound. Farzaliyev has been a member of Artists Union of Azerbaijan since 2011 and a member of YAY Gallery and YARAT Contemporary Art Centre since 2013. He has participated in a large number of group exhibitions around the world including the 16th edition of the Sharjah Islamic Arts Festival, Sharjah Art Museum, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates (2014). His works are held in the collection of the MoMA, Baku. Farhad Farzaliyev currently lives and works in Baku.


Nazrin Mammadova (b.1989, Kutaisi, Georgia) is a graduate of the Eurasian Diplomatic Academy in Azerbaijan and holds a BA (Hons) from the British Higher School of Art and Design Moscow, Russia. She became a member of the Azerbaijan Photographers’ Union in 2012 and has been an active member of the YARAT Coordinating Board since 2012. Recent exhibitions include A Time for Dreams, 4th Moscow International Biennale for Young Art, MMOMA, Moscow, Russia; GRID Photo Festival, Vondel CS, Amsterdam, Netherlands; and 16th edition of the Sharjah Islamic Arts Festival, Sharjah Art Museum, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates (all 2014). In 2014 Mammadova completed a residency at the Delfina Foundation in London. She currently lives and works in Baku. 


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YARAT CONTEMPORARY ART SPACE