an other world
04/11/23 - 25/11/23| EXHIBITION
A passage | Jake Caleb
with Merve Kılıçer, Tilly Shiner, Michael Lewis and Nael Quraishi
A passage | Jake Caleb with Merve Kılıçer, Tilly Shiner, Michael Lewis and Nael Quraishi.
4th Nov - 25th Nov 2023
Opening hours: 14h - 18h fri/sat
Opening listening session: 4/11/23 15h-18h w/ Tilly Shiner
Closing listening session & artist talk: 25/11/23 15h-18h w/ Merve Kılıçer and Michael Lewis

A passage is a body of work investigating cultural revisionism and grief. The work follows a ‘pilgrimage’ the artist made earlier this year to Allahabad, India to trace the history of his ancestor John James Caleb, a priest of Indian descent. This journey was sparked by the death of the artist’s father Nicholas Caleb due to Covid-19 in 2021.

Caleb has found individual grief difficult to translate into words and large parts of it remain unspoken. Following the easing of restrictions he perceived a public silence surrounding the pandemic, encountering an unwillingness to acknowledge its events within the collective memory. While unearthing his family’s complex relation to their Indian ancestry, Caleb felt a resonance with the passing of his father. Each of these personal narratives seemed conditioned by societal notions that dictate what can and can’t be spoken publicly. However, when given the space to discuss both grief and assimilation, he came across a lack of words to adequately describe them. In this paradoxical situation, he found himself questioning the difference between what is left unsaid and what is beyond words.

For the exhibition at an other world, Caleb will explore this question in the form of an installation featuring 35mm black and white photographs taken during his travel to India together with photographs he took in the UK prior to his father’s death. Alongside the installation, the artist has invited Merve Kılıçer (TR), Tilly Shiner (UK), Michael Lewis (ID/NL/IN/UK) and Nael Quraishi (UK/PK) to contribute to the exhibition’s themes. The contributions of Kılıçer, Shiner and Lewis will be shared in two listening sessions on the opening and closing weekend. During the course of the exhibition, Quraishi will be in residence at the project space to produce site specific photo-collages.

A passage is the first part of On Mending, a three part project that explores the theme of healing as a collective experience or practice. We want to ask what role art can play in healing our collective body. How can we challenge the concept that healing is the responsibility of only individuals? How can we find alternatives to prevailing notions of illness and cure? How can we open up conversations around vulnerable topics such as grief and trauma and reassess our way of treating them? The works that are part of the programme explore alternatives to healing by encounters with plants, migration histories and art therapy. As all three projects part of On Mending deal with pain, trauma and grief, they point to relevant questions about how to occupy uncomfortable situations rather than deny their existence.

Opening listening session | 4/11/23 15:00-17:00 | Jake Caleb and Tilly Shiner
For the first listening session there will be contributions from Tilly Shiner (UK) and Jake Caleb (UK). Shiner’s work compiles audio recordings relating to her grandmother, Lakhi Shiner who migrated to the UK from Assam, India in 1969. Lakhi migrated after marrying the artist’s grandfather, a British Army soldier who later became a tea estate manager. Informal recordings taken in her grandmother’s house in Chelmsford, Essex are edited alongside archival material taken by her father and aunt while visiting Assam in 1997 and during Lakhi’s assigned birthday in 2000. The highly personal recordings detail the Shiner family’s typical conviviality contrasted against Lakhi’s own memories of her ethically complex migration. Caleb’s contribution consists of field recordings taken while travelling to North India in early 2023. The recordings are interwoven with journal entries written during his trip as he traced the history of his
great-great-great grandfather John James Caleb, who was converted to Christianity by European missionaries and later became a priest.

Date: 25/11/23
Closing listening session and artist talk | 25/11/23 15:00-18:00 | Merve Kılıçer, Michael Lewis and Jake Caleb
For the second listening session, artist Merve Kılıçer (TR) and DJ Michael Lewis (IN/UK/ID/NL) will contribute with sound works and music. Kılıçer will narrate a newly written text over an edited version of her 2019 sound work Volitional Volutions of the Volatile Waters. The text studies her previous work through the lens of grief and loss, asking what happens when marginalised cultures are assimilated, oppressed or eradicated. Lewis (DJ Hoekboud), has compiled a playlist of folk music records departing from the Baul singers of Bengal. Lewis first encountered their musical tradition when travelling to India, the birthplace of his father, in the early 1970s. For Lewis, hearing their music was a profound moment, allowing him access to a cultural heritage that had been previously obscured within his family. This will be followed by an artist talk by Caleb over the exhibition as a whole.

In residence
Quaraishi’s photo-collages will combine imagery of the project space’s architecture with land and cityscapes of Karachi. Quraishi has noticed many visual and cultural cues in the neighbourhood that makes his mind flirt with memories of other home-like places. He will begin by observing the area around the space to inform the photographic material that will follow. The subsequent collages will document the perspective of looking outside from within the space. Through this reversed representation of public and private space, subject and gaze, Quraishi’s work will reflect on his own experiences of migration and his observations of fellow Pakistanis in his neighbourhood in Rotterdam Zuid. This is a continuation of the artist’s series of collages titled This is home after all.

Jake Caleb (1990, UK) is an artist based in Rotterdam, NL. His work is concerned with the unspoken, unheard or non-verbal in public space. He sees this as a listening practice that draws attention to the unnoticed within the ecologies and social structures we find ourselves within. His works co-opt certain structures such as a choir, a photoshoot or a film screening. By repositioning what is valued within these cultural forms he asks if there are alternative models for our shared existence.

Merve Kılıçer (Tr) is a multi-disciplinary artist. She draws inspiration from historic and traditional modes of culture-art production and translates them into contemporary experiences. Her practice is informed by personal experience and attempts to find a non-didactic yet politically engaged position in relation to her background and history. Installation, sculpture, performance, traditional print, video and sound are all mediums that create a ground for growth in her practice.

Tilly Shiner (b.1989) is a filmmaker based in London

Michael Lewis is an accountant living in Rotterdam. He has a lifelong affinity with wholesome food and non produced orally transmitted folk music.

Nael Quraishi is an artist who lives and works between Rotterdam and Karachi. Having grown up in both Pakistan and the UK, the roots of his practice lay deeply within childhood recollections and memories of space and place. Working mainly with photo and video, Quraishi casts a subtle yet sharp light on the individual and collective experience of nostalgia, displacement and (be)longing, highlighting its lasting affect on everyday life.

The contributions to this exhibition have been supported by CBK Rotterdam, a-n Artist Bursaries and Gemeente Rotterdam.
Photos courtesy Jake Caleb, Nick Thomas and Nael Quraishi.

<<< Follow the link below to listen to Jake Caleb in conversation with Hedvig Koertz >>>