Changing Places is a series of exhibitions staging contemporary artists’ moving image within historic buildings across the country. Quarry Bank is one of ten venues on the nationwide tour and hosts four video works by Ravi Agarwal, Omar Chowdhury, Desire Machine Collective and Yasmin Jahan Nupur.
Changing Places features artists who live in, work in, or retain a connection to Bangladesh, India or Pakistan. Their works cover a range of perspectives and situations, from global migration and environmental impacts to the individual who navigates and responds to shifting social and economic circumstances. Through the pairing of specific sites and artworks, this series of exhibitions bridges the gap between the industrialisation currently occurring across South Asia, and the places in Britain where the blueprint began.
Read more about the artworks showing at Quarry Bank below.
In contrast to the setting at Quarry Bank, where the mill and cottages now undergo careful conservation, Desire Machine Collective's large-scale video projection Residue presents an industrial building with a different fate: the crumbling, forgotten, yet monumental space of a disused power station outside the artists' hometown of Guwahati, India. Without the will for its preservation or repurposing, the structure is becoming engulfed by the nature that surrounds it. But with this process of abandonment comes a different kind of regeneration, or new beginning - not for the benefit of humans, but for other species such as the insects that have begun to inhabit the building.
Away From Home by Yasmin Jahan Nupur transports us to Mauritius where the artist follows a group of factory workers who have migrated from Bangladesh in search of work. Nupur's film offers a glimpse into the measures being implemented by the garment industry, and the subsequent impact of these measures on the lives of the individual worker. Through this revealing encounter, Away From Home highlights how Britain's blueprint for production, and the historic conditions that accompanied it, continue to exist in various forms around the world.
In Machine, Ravi Agarwal highlights the environmental impacts of industrialisation. His artwork focuses on the mass-production of plastic bottles made from a by-product of petro chemicals that are causing huge environmental damage. In today's textile industry, the production of the petroleum-based fibre Polyester also uses chemicals, and often energy sources, that are detrimental to the environment. The low cost of these mass-produced materials contributes to the disposable relationship many of us have with these commodities, and our subsequent impact on the environment.
Locus, Temple by Omar Chowdhury offers an interesting counterpoint to a society based on individuality expressed through consumerism. It shows people involved in a personal transformation that goes beyond the surface. Much like Quarry Bank, which was formerly home to a complete industrial community, the building in the film is at the heart of community life. It hosts a confluence of activities, including work, religious rituals and education. Chowdhury allows us an insight into this contemporary, multi-finctional space and highlights how ritual activities can contribute to a form of community and collectivism.
Read more about the Changing Places tour.
Locus, Temple was made with the support of the Kier Foundation and Australia Council of the Arts.
Image: Machine (video still), Ravi Agarwal.