Stories I tell Myself
The Why Not Gallery is proud to present you a group exhibition Stories i Tell Myself
The exhibition brings together young Georgian artists with seemingly radically different approaches and practices, contrasting styles and forms of thought. Poetry, which is felt in all the works and presented by each artist in their own way, is the unifying line around which the exhibition was built.
The personal mythologies that we find or create for ourselves to better understand the world becomes a necessary armor for self-preservation. The multifaceted prisms of symbols and metaphors in which we carry individual and collective traumas and experiences to deal with them, and the unconditional beauty that ultimately overcomes all wounds and disappointments, waves as a flag of victory at the end of the horizon.
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The Why Not Gallery is glad to invite to Azeri artist Agil Abdullayev's first solo exhibition in Tbilisi, ‘Changing Room’.
The exhibition is inspired by the artist’s recent body of research focusing on the queer cruising cultures in Azerbaijan and Georgia. Loosely titled ‘May my hand touch a man’ covers historical perspectives and includes contemporary cultural take on. The combination of digital hook-up apps, urban strata, and the commodification of LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Bisexual, and Queer +) cultures means that traditional cruising grounds are continually changing their structures. Geospatial technologies have generated a psycho-sexual geography that spreads across digitally-connected homes and profiles.
The exhibition imagines an environment of the private clubs as the producers of non-hetero architecture, where participants change physical and psychological factors to reenact their desired characters in dark spaces. Through a series of newly produced paintings, the artist inspects the patriarchal nature of the built environment. Cruising is at once perceived as a resistance, an avant-garde, and a vernacular, with an active relevance to and beyond LGBTQ+ circles.
Agil Abdullayev is a contemporary artist working in the field of film\video and painting\installation to examine the queer archives in Azerbaijan. By reading the queer body as an archive, his works often take as starting point my childhood experiences and memories to address queer anxieties and traumas, as well as how queerness has been shaped by the political oppression in Azerbaijan and other south Caucasian countries. Often inventing alter-egos and using AI and storytelling tools, his films attempt to create spaces of hyper-possibility where representations of queer narratives can be disrupted, re-articulated and reinvented.
Moreover, Agil's approach to contemporary art is to expand the traditional roles assigned to artists to include modes of practice such as activist, publisher, educator, urban geographer, and community organizer. He is urged to situate artistic practice within the contemporary world's social, political, and economic conditions, identifying what art can contribute to ongoing material, critical, technological, and philosophical debates. Coming from a working-class background, Abdullayev aims to implement diverse projects focusing on bringing back the virtues of contemporary art and its influence on societal problems into focus, by challenging the censorship activities carried out by those in power. In 2020, Agil founded a critical discussion and writing platform, "Çağdaşçılar" as a response to institutional censorship and to support emerging and marginalized artists and cultural workers.
Agil graduated with BA Fine Art in at Nottingham Trent University with first-class honors in 2018, and have been selected for the Bloomberg New Contemporaries in the same year. Since, he has participated in international and regional residencies such as Meet Factory, Prague (2022); Goethe Institute, Tbilisi (2021); Cittadellarte - Pistoletto Foundation, Biella, Italy (2019); International Summer Academy of Fine Arts, Salzburg (2019); One Thoresby Street, Nottingham (2018). Films of Agil have been screened and exhibited in major art institutions including MOMA Tbilisi, New Digital Art Biennale, Liverpool Bienniale, LUX London film and video agency, South London Gallery, Blindspot Gallery in Hong Kong, and Asian Art Museum in San Francisco.