Alia Farid, Research image (2023). Produced by Chisenhale Gallery, London, and commissioned by Chisenhale Gallery; Passerelle Centre d'art contemporain, Brest; The Power Plant, Toronto and Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna / Courtesy of the artist
Alia Farid: Elsewhere
Dec 1, 2023 – Feb 4, 2024
Chisenhale Gallery
London, UK

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.

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