YARAT is a non-profit organisation which is dedicated to nurture an understanding of contemporary art in Azerbaijan and to creating a platform for Azerbaijani art, both nationally and internationally. YARAT opened a new center for contemporary art in March 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. YARAT Contemporary Art Center is the first permanent space for YARAT. It is in Bayil District (Near National Flag Square).
Walking along Baku Boulevard (seaside), we saw a Ferris wheel and passed by the national flag square. Then, we went to the art galleries of modern paintings of Azerbaijan.
After that, we went to YARAT (means create) center. They have a 1-year exhibition based on the theme “resistance”, which is about Azerbaijani culture and those stereotypes related to it. It is so innovative and reflective. I could relate the artwork to my life. I would like to share some impressive artwork and my personal reflection with you.
“Everyone will die” said the guide. There was a tree of white head in the entrance of the exhibition. People will die no matter how reluctant they are towards death. There are test tubes with acid connecting to the heads so the head will fall down naturally when acid fully erodes into the head, like the one which has already fallen down on the ground of soil on the left. It was quite shocking to see this at the beginning of the visit but it was very meaningful to let us reflect death and the meaning of life at first.
The teapots are put together to form a narrow. Azerbaijani people love tea just like every country’s people have their own habits. Those habits for shape and form their unique mentality and ideology. Finally, they will unconsciously gather together and walk on the same road pointing towards to the same goals or ends if they are consistent with each other. Like the teapots pointing towards the side of window, it seems to be positive. Yet, what if they are pointing towards a bad end like Nazism in WWII or extreme racism? Are we powerful enough to resist it?
A girl in colorful dress is sleeping comfortably in the circle of rubbish. When I saw this picture on the wall, human’s selfishness came to my mind. It was not only about people do not put enough effort in environmental protection but also about how people are unwilling to step out of their comfort zones. Rubbish in this picture can be social problems or dark sides of yourself. People can always try or pretend to sleep in our own world and ignore the issues around them. But could you imagine what the world would be like if everyone is like that?
It is a video of a record of a local banquet on two large screens. It is very ordinary as you and I think. It is usual that people do not really think deeply or even take a look on the things they have get used to it. Stereotypes and resistance seem to be quite abstract but they simply come from our daily routines. It is just that simple that we may not pay a lot of the attention to the things, people and environment which we are too familiar with such as family, friends, health and food. This documentary reminded me to keep on reflecting even in usual days in order to grow and be more mature.
It’s interesting to know that it’s not only a museum with exhibition but open to other kinds of cultural activities such as Yoga class too. There are also mini library and Yashil Café inside the center so we can see the diversity of this art center.
I appreciate this art center so much because they show the people that art is not a very grand thing only for noble people. They try to create understanding and resonance with the visitors. The artwork here is so living and vivid too.
For places to visit together, I recommend walking outside and taking photos in the flag square and crystal hall nearby.
Maggie Mak, Hong Kong
22 July 2016