CAS / Frieze Rapid Response Fund – Rabiya Choudhry acquisition

Some great news in these unprecedented times! Glasgow Museums and GoMA are excited to announce that we will be collecting works by Rabiya Choudhry after a successful application to The Rapid Response Fund, which has been instigated and managed by the Contemporary Art Society (CAS) in partnership with Frieze London.

The Rapid Response Fund was launched in May 2020 in response to Covid-19 and is there to support a purchase of work(s) by a UK based artist for a public collection. The fund aimed to ensure “financial support goes where it is needed most – straight to the grassroots of the UK art scene.” Contemporary Art Society Member Museums were invited to make a case for how the work put for forward for acquisition would “support the museum’s civic role in their community when they reopen after the lockdown is lifted”.

Glasgow Museums, through GoMA, put forward the acquisition of three works by the Edinburgh Based artist Rabiya Choudhry and were one of the first organisations to be awarded funding. Choudhry was selected as we felt her work would be a catalyst for an evocative and engaging discussion on the current global situation with Covid-19, Black Lives Matter and gender equality. Along with this there was a long-held desire to acquire her work for Glasgow’s collection – Rabiya Choudhry seemed perfect for this fund. 
Choudry’s work is autobiographical but can resonate with our audiences’ experiences in discussing: anxiety, hope, fear, family, racism, love and loss. The artworks also reflect work already happening within GoMA around urgent issues such as mental health, migration and representation within the museum. GoMA curators have been following Choudhry’s work with interest since her wonderful exhibition at Transmission Gallery in 2018, COCO!NUTS! and we are incredibly pleased that the works to be acquired will be two paintings and one neon work from this show:

  • Dad (2018) 1000mm x 300mm - an artwork hung in the window which is made of Turquoise Neon tubing spelling the name MAZHAR and is encased in clear perspex / Photography by Eoin Carey
  • Dream Baby Dream (2016) 1000mm x 1000mm / acrylic on canvas / Photography by Matthew Arthur Williams. A painted profile of the inside of someone's head as though it was rooms in a house painted in a cartoon style against a bright pink background. Each room is occupied by a different person controlling the brain, eyes, nose, ears and mouth. In the brain room the person looks up at the works Dream baby Dream and in the Mouth room the bottom row of teeth spells the name of a band - Suicude. Dream forever is written on the clothing below the head.
  • Houses for the Holy (2016) 1000mm x 1000mm / acrylic on canvas / Photography by Matthew Arthur Williams. A portrait of a head in profile painted as though it is a cartoon house. There are two eyes about the windows, the mouth is represented by a door with the number 18 on it and the hair is shaped like a phone and spells the word HOLY vertically, with the O looking like a head screaming. The teeth white triangles and represent Klu Klux Klan members that have black decaying holes for eyes forming rotten teeth, as a reminder that hate speech can begin close to home. They are singing into the the microphone of the disconnected phone.

Choudhry lists her influences as “a varied hybrid of styles, ranging from psychedelic art, comic book art, album cover art, song lyrics, voodoo and folk art, b-movie film posters and cartoons.” The works sits perfectly within the Glasgow Museums’ Modern and Contemporary Art collection, especially next to the original GoMA collection, which opened up the building in 1996 to some controversy from the arts community at the time. And there’s a reason for that strong affiliation to the collection; it turns out Choudhry did her school’s work experience in GoMA around 1996 just after it opened and sights the collection as a big influenced to her even now.

We finish this post with Rabiya Choudhry’s wonderful reflection on finding out our application was successful:

“I’m really overwhelmed and excited to have my work represented at GoMA. It blows my mind to think that my work is going to be shown there and that it will be part of their collection. GoMA was one of the places that I was drawn to from an early age. It has, from my earliest memories, inspired me and showed me the potential of what art can be and how it can make an impact. I hope the artworks acquired inspire others like me who used to go along to a big public gallery and dream that one day, they could be part of it. This has been the most challenging year of my life in a number of ways, but this news has been a bit of light in all the uncertainty right now. I believe the works acquired are pertinent to the times we currently find ourselves in and the struggles we are all now facing. I had always hoped that these particular works would be part of a public collection, and I’m happy that they now have the freedom to be able to be seen and connect with large numbers of people. 

I hope that we can shine light on this dark period of our lives, and speak not only our truth but amplify the voices of others and find new ways to connect. I still find it hard to process that we are in a global pandemic and how the situation is deeply affecting so many people in unimaginable ways. It’s hard to fathom how life will be in the future for everyone and it will take time to fully articulate that. In light of that, and more than ever, I have realised how much we really need each other and how much we need to create and share things that help us to understand the world, ourselves and each other.”

The GoMA team hope that the work will be put in display as soon as possible so that the public can enjoy, discuss and be inspired by them. In the meantime look out for discussions and activities around the works on out AT HOME section of the blog.

The press release for the acquisition can be read in full here:PRESS RELEASE – Rapid Response Fund first acquisition_GoMA_Final

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