testsite 19.3: Afrah Shafiq and Cynthia Toles

testsite 19.3


Afrah Shafiq and Cynthia Toles

November 10th - December 15th, 2019

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Afrah Shafiq, st.itch (video still), 2018. Multimedia Patchwork with 4 Channel Video, Scannable Codes, 13 min, HD, Sound. Image courtesy of the artist.

Project Details

Fluent~Collaborative & testsite are pleased to present st.itch, a collaboration with artist Afrah Shafiq and contemporary art collector Cynthia Toles. The project opens on Sunday, November 10th with a public reception from 4 to 6 PM—a conversation between the artist and collaborator at 4:30 PM. Following the opening, Shafiq will deliver a lecture on Tuesday November 12th, at UT’s Department of Fine Arts (room 2.204) at 7PM. More information to follow.

Afrah Shafiq based out of Goa, India, and Cynthia Toles of Houston, Texas, did not know each other before their testsite collaboration, but subsequently have learned that they have a lot in common. Each approach what they do—art making and art collecting, respectively—in a similar way. “Archive as Playground” is Shafiq’s self-described artistic process. The artist approaches libraries and collections without a thesis or a pre-conceived notion of what she is looking for or what she will find. Rather, she trusts that concepts will reveal themselves through following threads of interest, by immersing herself in primary documents and images. Toles’ approach to art collecting can be described as “Collecting as Playground,” i.e., choosing objects, installations and videos based on instinct. Her highly idiosyncratic collection has been assembled from encounters with artworks or experiences that feel new, or magical, or scary . . . sometimes, even initially negative. Shafiq’s and Toles’ sensibilities cluster around certain themes –gender, inner lives, and invisibilized histories for Shafiq; for Toles, shifts in scale, the overlooked, the humorous, and homages to Duchamp and other artists she admires.

For their testsite project, Shafiq will show st.itch, her most recent work, a multimedia patchwork and interactive 4-channel video installation based on archival research. She also will deliver a multi-media lecture about the nature of her work and artistic process. In her Austin lecture, titled Making from Archives: Research as an Artistic Playground, Shafiq will share her work around women's inner lives drawn from research in archives in India and the North of England, and will incorporate findings from her month-long research residency in Austin with Fluent Collaborative.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue, which includes an essay by Cynthia Toles, which chronicles her first encounter with st.itch at the 2018 Kochi-Muziris Biennial, along with color images of the work, and an interview with Shafiq.

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