Grandmother Gazes at Public in Five Cities
By Pamela Wong
Video artist and sculptor Hetain Patel’s latest commission for London-based art platform Circa, Baa’s House 11 (2021), will be displayed on billboards in London, Seoul, Milan, New York, and Tokyo from November 1 to 30.
Baa’s House 11 will feature Indian Kathak dancer Vina Ladwa playing the role of Patel’s grandmother, a first-generation immigrant. In the video, the matriarch engages in domestic labor, such as painting the walls of the white, trompe l’oeil cube that she inhabits, and gazes out at the general public looking at her from below. The work is a part of the artist’s ongoing Baa’s House series (2015– ), which spotlights Patel’s grandmother and probes notions of migrant identity, belonging, and empowerment.
Supported by the mayor of London and presented in collaboration with Film London’s Jarman Award—which Patel won in 2019—the video will be shown at London’s Piccadilly Circus, Seoul’s K-Pop Square, Milan’s Piazzale Cadorna, New York’s Times Square, and online at Circa.art every day at 8:21 pm local time. Tokyo’s Yunika Building in Shinjuku will broadcast it at 9 am local time.
Patel expressed his excitement about the scale of the project, and explained, “I am interested in a representation of my grandmother occupying this space instead, striking, and powerful in her domestic action . . . The invitation to occupy such iconic spaces around the world is huge—physically, artistically, and culturally.” He also created a limited-edition print, with a design evocative of the patterns from his grandmother’s home, available to be purchased online to raise funds for the art-and-culture community.
Launched in October 2020, Circa is an art platform that invites artists to show work that responds to current issues on the 4K screens of London’s Piccadilly Lights for a month. Every evening from around 8:21 pm GMT, advertisements are replaced by an artwork. Circa has previously commissioned works by Ai Weiwei, David Hockney, and Cauleen Smith, among others.
Pamela Wong is ArtAsiaPacific’s assistant editor.
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