YARAT! presents “PARTICIPATE” Baku Public Art Festival project (PHOTO)

YARAT! presents “PARTICIPATE” Baku Public Art Festival project (PHOTO)

Azerbaijan, Baku, March 15 / Trend V.Imanov /

YARAT Contemporary Art Space presented a new project "PARTICIPATE" Baku Public Art Festival on Thursday, which runs from March to September this year and will surprise Baku residents and visitors with original and creative projects.

Rector of Moscow State Lomonosov University's Baku branch, art director of UNS creative scene, professor Nargiz Pashayeva, director of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Anar Alakbarov, founder of YARAT Contemporary Art Space Aida Makhmudova, prominent public figures, famous art and culture figures, representatives of diplomatic missions attended the opening ceremony.

In her speech, Aida Makhmudova spoke about the successful implementation of the "012 Baku Public Art Festival" project and new project "PARTICIPATE" of Baku Public Art Festival.

"Over twenty artists attended the project "012 Baku Public Art Festival" in 2012 which successfully continued for six months," Aida Makhmudova said.

"We managed to achieve this goal and to attract the attention and interest of audience to contemporary art. This year, we present the second project "PARTICIPATE" Baku Public Art Festival and it will differ from last year's project by interactivity and audience's participation in the works of all artists. We also organized a number of educational programs with the joint participation of Azerbaijani and foreign artists within the festival."

YARAT! founder also thanked the project sponsor Bank Respublika for the support.

Launching " PARTICIPATE" will be 9th Apartment, by the Georgian collective Group Bouillon, who are representing their country's official pavilion at this year's Venice Biennale. They will paint an entire apartment white in the presence of festival visitors; this redecorating process restricts the audience's movements, questioning our notions of personal freedom in public spaces with particular reference to the Soviet and post-Soviet eras. As the collective say; "In the Soviet period there was no public space, the space which the government called 'public' was used by them for their political agend."

Beginning on 15 March, the festival will showcase 10 public art commissions from a selection of Azerbaijani and international artists.

"PARTICIPATE"Baku Public Art aims to challenge our preconceptions about the role and relevance of public art in cities, and to promote the understanding of contemporary art in Azerbaijan.

Artists from Azerbaijan, the UK, Russia, the US, Georgia and the Netherlands will unveil their work at a variety of sites in Baku over a 6 month period. Works range from a human-powered mobile park by Rebar Group (US), to a giant inflatable rubber duck by Florentijn Hofman (Netherlands) and a public confessional installation by Afet Baghirova (Azerbaijan). Audience participation is a key element of the festival which will be accompanied by a series of public lectures, masterclasses and workshops.

Local artist participants:

Afet Baghirova

Chingiz Babayev

Farkhad Hagverdiyev

Orkhan Mammad

Sabina Shikhlinskaya

International artist participants:

Naila Allakhverdiyeva (Russia)

Group Bouillon (Georgia)

Rebar Group (US)

Florentijn Hofman (Netherlands)

Patricio Forrester & Artmongers (UK)

Florentijn Hofman brings a playful element to the festival with her 12 metre high, Rubber Duck. The inflatable giant sculpture will be tinged with nostalgic childhood memories for many visitors, as the artist explains: "It is relatable, deeply personal whilst simultaneously universal, erasing the limiting confines of culture, language, age and experience." Altering the way we experience art, as well as public spaces, an unexpected encounter with the Rubber Duck will delight and surprise audiences.

Parkcycle by Rebar Group (a US collective) is a small mobile park, complete with tree, that will be cycled through Baku. Described by the group as a "human-powered, open space distribution system" Parkcycle debuted in San Francisco in 2007, offering immediate access to green space for the neighbourhoods it parked in. By bringing the project to Baku, Rebar Group aims to extend the functions and possibilities of public sculpture whilst raising awareness of cycle-power, community participation and the importance of green space.

The projects presented by the local Azerbaijani artists will focus on engaging with festival audiences and the everyday lives of those living and working in Baku. For her work entitled Tell Me Your Secret artist Afet Baghirova asks the public to confidentially record their secrets via a sculpted ear, and to listen to others' secrets on the reverse side using headphones. Orkhan Mammad's work VIP underpass is concerned with the urban realities of life in Baku. By adorning several neglected underpasses in the city to create a VIP, 'red carpet' effect, he hopes to raise public awareness and encourage the use of the walkways.

Chingiz Babayev's philosophical multimedia project, Positive or Negative? will chart public emotions in Baku by questioning commuters about their state of mind. Farkhad Haqverdi conversely, will look at the most private and most neglected space in Baku, the backyard. In response to the public, polished facades of Azerbaijan's capital he will transform these often overlooked private areas into brightly coloured spaces, hoping to engage the public interest in these neglected spaces.

With varied and extensive public engagement and artworks diverse in media and meaning, 2013's PARTICIPATE: Baku Public Arts festival looks set to transform the city during its 6 month duration. The artists aim to engage with the city to improve it, socially and creatively, and bring awareness to a host of issues that they believe can be tackled and interacted with though public art.

During the festival, there will be a range of educational events featuring artists, curators and speakers from around the globe. This will provide international audiences with the chance to experience Baku and Azerbaijan as a destination for ground-breaking contemporary art.

A full colour catalogue will accompany the exhibition.

Artist works:

International Artists

Curatorship project by Naila Allakhverdiyeva, I Dream of Jumanji (Public sculpture)

This Russian artist project brings the animal world into the urban environment through numerous animal sculptures. Playing upon the ambivalence we have to the animal world, one of idealisation and nostalgia, set against control and fear, Allakhverdiyeva hopes to create a modern genre that reminds us of 'animalism's' close proximity to our everyday life.

Rebar Group US, Parkcycle (Mobile Park)

Parkcycle is a small mobile park, with a tree, that can be cycled by several people through a city. This "human-powered, open space distribution system" debuted in San Francisco in 2007, offering immediate access to green space for the neighbourhoods it parked in. Bringing this to Baku, Rebar Group will further the possibilities for public sculpture whilst raising awareness of cycle-power, community participation and the importance of green space.

Group Bouillon,9th Apartment (Installation and performance)

The work uses the most private of spaces, the apartment, to play upon ideas of public and private cultural space, in the Soviet and post-Soviet eras. Painting an entire apartment white in the presence of visitors, Group Bouillon will impose their presence on the movement throughout the exhibit space, thereby questioning the freedoms of this 'public space' and the border between public and private space. The white apartment is also designed to recall private exhibitions of the Soviet era, which presented art exhibitions without the state's political agenda. As the collective say; "in the Soviet period there was no public space, the space which the government called 'public' was used by them for their political agenda... since then little has changed...the spaces [simply] became 'private'."

Florentijn Hofman, Rubber Duck (Sculpture)

Florentijn Hofman will install a 12 metre inflatable Rubber Duck at an undisclosed site in Baku. An accessible work of art, it symbolises nostalgia and the commonality between many cultures. As the artist states, "the Rubber Duck knows no frontiers, it doesn't discriminate people and doesn't have a political connotation.... It is relatable, deeply personal whilst simultaneously universal, erasing the limiting confines of culture, language, age and experience."

Patricio Forrester & Artmongers, Art in Adversity (Art project, workshops and talks)

This British collective will organise an art-project in a hospital, numerous workshops and a final lecture 'What is art going to do for you?'. Their Public Commission for The Newcomen Centre, marked a project at the biggest clinical facility in Europe dedicated to autistic children. Their Baku project will be aimed at children in acute distress; with considerable public collaboration they will create a site-specific work aimed to help those children.

Azerbaijani Artists

Afet Baghirova, Tell Me Your Secret (Interactive sculpture)

Baghirova's work is a public confessional; a sculpted ear which confidentially records secrets while playing previously recorded secrets on its reverse side through the use of headphones. It seeks to promote public openness through learning the secrets of others and gaining the confidence to share our own.

Orkhan Mammad, VIP Underpass (Public installation)

To promote the use of underpasses, which are currently neglected in Baku leading to danger for pedestrians, Mammad will adorn several underpasses with mock VIP carpets and decorative protective railings. While raising awareness for pedestrians he also hopes to encourage the use of the walkways.

Farkhad Hagverdi, in collaboration with emerging artists: Hasan Hagverdiyev, Arif Amirov, Aydin Baghirov, YARd ArT project (Public installation)

YARd ArT looks to the most private, most neglected, but well-used space in Baku, the backyard, and artistically overhauls it. Painting and using graphics in a number of backyards, this project targets the personal space of daily life and empowers people to improve it.

Chingiz Babayev, Positive or Negative? (Multimedia work)

This conceptual and philosophical multimedia project will chart public emotions in populous transitory locations in Baku. By surveying and recording the emotional states of residents in busy interchanges, Babayev hopes to reveal an image of the city's mood.

Sabina Shikhlinskaya, Save the Earth (Mobile environmental project)

By transforming a local bus in a plastic-collecting vehicle parked in the widely used bus station, Shikhlinskaya hopes to heighten environmental awareness. The graffiti-decorated bus will be moved to various locations around the station with explanatory leaflets disseminated widely.

YARAT Contemporary Art Space

Founded in 2011 by Aida Mahmudova, YARAT is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to nurturing an understanding of contemporary art in Azerbaijan and to creating a platform for Azerbaijani art, both nationally and internationally.

Based in Baku, YARAT, (which means CREATE in Azerbaijani) realises its mission through an ongoing program of exhibitions, education events, and festivals. YARAT facilitates dialogue and exchange between local and international artistic networks, including foundations, galleries and museums. A series of residencies further fosters opportunities for global cultural dialogue and partnerships.

YARAT's educational initiatives include lectures, seminars, master classes, and the Young Artist Project ARTIM (meaning PROGRESS in Azerbaijani). ARTIM aims to encourage the next generation of Azerbaijani creative talent to seek a career in the arts and gives young practitioners the opportunity to exhibit their works in a professional context.

Founded as part of YARAT's ongoing commitment to growing local art infrastructure, YAY Gallery is a commercial exhibition space. In line with this, YAY (meaning SHARE in Azerbaijani) shares all proceeds from sales between the artist and YARAT and supports a range of national and international artists.

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