Bagri Foundation offer £1,000 towards COVID-19 artists commissions

The Bagri Foundation has this week announced news of Noel Ed De Leon’s Microcosmic Orbit, one of the five commissions for its At Home in the World open call. Set up in April 2020, it invited artists to create works in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, offering £1,000 for the winners to realise their proposals, artists who did not win could benefit from a small loan from cashflex.co.uk.

De Leon, who won in the ‘Lectures & Courses’ category, has created a work that takes the form of three digital conversations and live-stream performances, in which he invites a series of guest artists, researchers and cultural activists to undertake a virtual tour of his personal collection of historical artefacts. These are staged from the attic of his home — recently converted into an exhibition space.

Curated by Eva Bentcheva and working in collaboration with Berlin-based artist Pepe Dayaw, cultural anthropologist/activist Tran Thu Trang, and London-based artist Erika Tan, De Leon has drawn together a selection of objects to which they respond. These range from original equipment from the First and Second World Wars collected in Britain and the Philippines, to found objects, tribal artefacts and remnants of artworks, and he has chosen three core themes directed at each guest respectively.

With Pepe Dayaw, he explores notions of ‘sheltering’, delving into the deeply symbolic and aesthetic nature of interiority, housing and survival. The second is ‘wrapping’ with Trang Thu Trang, which will explore the dynamics of visibility and invisibility which migrants often face. The final is ‘temporalities’ with Erika Tan, which will probe into the importance of coincidental survival of historical objects in shaping the writing of fragmented and layered histories.

Through this project it will reveal how objects reflect histories of exchange, conflict and interdependence between Southeast Asia and Europe. Also, during these attic ‘visits’, De Leon and the collaborating artists will jointly conceive three live-streamed events around the aforementioned themes. This could be anything from the building of a temporary installation in the attic, to spoken commentary, debate, poetry, music or even cooking, and will be shown online over the course of July to September.

The dates are as follows:

• 17 July 2020, 1pm – ‘Sheltering’ with Pepe Dayaw will delve into the deeply symbolic and aesthetic nature of interiority, housing and survival.

• 14 August 2020, 1pm – ‘Wrapping’ with Trang Thu Trang will explore the dynamics of visibility and invisibility which migrants often face.

• 18 September 2020, 1pm – ‘Temporalities’ with Erika Tan will probe into the importance of coincidental survival of historical objects in shaping the writing of fragmented and layered histories.

The winner of the ‘Written Word’ category, the poet Shagufta Iqbal, examines ways in which humans cope, connect and create, particularly in relation to motherhood and in the context of the modern-day family. Having grown up in a South Asian single-parent family, Iqbal is now raising her own two children as a single parent. The new work is inspired by slips of notes and pictures that her children and she exchange when they leave for their father’s home, shared throughout July on the Foundation’s social media platforms — enhancing the poetry and showing the ways in which love and obligation intersect with parenthood and childhood. Iqbal’s final commission, premiering in early August, will see the creation of a poem that discusses the triumphs and difficulties of such an environment, how care, solidarity and love are created in spaces where survival is often the overwhelming focus.

Alka Bagri, Trustee, Bagri Foundation, says: ‘I am pleased that we could bring together such a range of experienced creatives for Microcosmic Orbit. I cannot wait for them to explore being at home in the world via a diversity of virtual responses to Noel’s collection in the loft. His artefacts are loaded with historical context and personal memories, and I’m excited to see how each guest responds.’

Chelsea Pettitt, Head of Arts, Bagri Foundation, says: ‘With travel being massively limited, I am particularly excited to see how global creatives can still come together to make new work digitally. Noel’s live performance practice had to be quickly rethought when he could no longer be there in person. We are thrilled to be able to help him execute a long-held ambition to explore histories of exchange, conflict, and interdependence between Southeast Asia and Europe – via his attic!’

The other winners were Jasmin Kent Rodgman (Visual Arts), Eiko Soga (Film) and Jennae Santos (Sound) aka WSABI Fox. Rodgman’s visual creations inspired by new music and Malaysian poetry, hot B stars, can be seen on Bagri Foundation’s social media platforms and website from 1st July 2020. Soga’s and Santos’ commissions will premiere in late Summer.

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