Category Archives: Anila Quayyum Agha

Answering back!

The Art Caravan is working towards informing its subjects about the discussion in this blog.  After writing a post, I often send an email to the artist to tell them I wrote about their work.  I have been pleasantly surprised that artists like Jennifer Stilwell (June 2) and Anila Agha promptly responded to my emails.  (If you haven’t read the January 15 posting on Agha’s installation, please do so! Right now is as good a time as any…..just click here.)

Pierre Belanger, landscape architect, and head of the Canadian installation at this year’s Venice Biennale for Architecture, responded to last week’s blog posting, Can You Tell Me What’s Going On Here?  In the last paragraph I wrote:  I did enjoy the variety of ways the ideas are presented. I only wish the presentation had provided a vision for a way forward.

I was somewhat surprised, but happy to hear back from M. Belanger. Here is his response, in part:

The conversation we are looking to curate next year across Canada during our tour will hopefully address your questions about strategies moving forward. For us, it was important to first put this issue on the table, for which most Canadians (let alone Europeans) that live in big metropolitan regions are unaware of, nor really care to think much about. There is a huge part of territorial history that Canadians need to know about, and we believe that this project of mapping is a projective in itself. The lens it casts on Canada opens up many unheard voices with many ideas, old and new, about the future. We’re simply providing grounds for those voices to be heard, understood, and acted upon.

He genuinely seems interested in continuing the dialogue.  It’s a timely discussion, considering  yesterday’s beginning of the Canadian National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.  This is, hopefully, the season for truth telling and reconciliation in Canadian society.

photo by T. Vatrt

Ai Weiwei….again

Here’s the blog post I had started last week, when I was waylaid by Anila Agha’s astonishing installation and wrote about it instead …..

I recently watched the documentary, Never Sorry , about the Chinese artist and social activist, Ai Weiwei.  If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it.  It’s available at this link.  You can watch a trailer here.

The film was directed, and produced by Alison Klayman, and received many awards, including an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary.

Never Sorry reinforced my contention that Ai Weiwei is one of the most important contemporary artists in the world.  The story behind the installation Remembering, is very emotional.  (Yes, I cried.  Again.)

photo from the Daily Mail, UK

Does the best art move us to tears….or do I just need more sleep?!

For me, the layers of meaning imbedded in these works of art by Weiwei, and Agha, are what make them so interesting.  Not only are they visually pleasing, and sometimes downright beautiful, but these artists also convey important thoughts, ask great questions, and make connections to other ideas, times and places.  There’s so much there.

Renoir is quoted as saying, “For me a painting should be joyous and pretty–yes, pretty!  There are enough annoying things in life without our creating new ones.”

Now I’m not about to argue with Renoir, or his popularity.  Apparently, he was on to something.  I just think artists like Weiwei and Agha take the work even further by creating art that is both sensually and intellectually engaging.

That being said, I did cry at Monet’s garden in Giverny.




Inspiring, astonishing art

When was the last time a posted video about art brought you to tears?

I was completely taken by surprise this morning when I followed this link to a video of an art installation by Anila Quayyum Agha.  Have a look–you won’t be disappointed. (It may be five of the best minutes you spend today.)

Isn’t this a great art installation?  Wow! It’s beautiful, it’s interactive, and it’s easily accessible.  I can’t imagine  anyone who entered the Rice University Art Gallery  for this show not enjoying the experience.

Not only is it gorgeous and inclusive, but it is rife with meaning.  Anita Agha makes some very powerful statements about inclusion, unity, cooperation and beauty.  The tension between the surface beauty and the depth of meaning is extraordinary.  Here’s hoping the show will be installed in other galleries, so many more people can participate.

Thanks to ImageUpdate for leading me to Anila Agha’s art.