Cities of the Future: Shezad Dawood

24 September - 20 October 2010

After the partition of India, Nehru invited the Swiss Modernist architect Le Corbusier to design the Chandigarh Parliament. While one can look at this as the intervention of European Modernism in India, if one looks at the bigger picture there is an obvious thread of mystic geometry originating in the Indian Subcontinent that could be said to pervade and inform European Modernism. Thus, hermetic forms such as the spiral and atomic structures, developed in tantra, can be said to play a major part in the evolution and thinking of the early Modernists, influenced as they were by theosophy and Rosiecrucianism. These systems of thought in turn were heavily influenced by early Indian philosophy and played their part in the independence movement in India. It is this full circle of ideas and forms that this exhibition looks to explore. Using a combination of pieces on vintage textile and neon wall sculptures, the works in the show map out a trajectory between formal abstraction, architecture and sacred geometry. 

Through looking at a circulation of forms between Le Corbusier’s designs for Chandigarh, tantric symbols and the utopian narratives that could be said to both contain and be contained by them, what the show points to are alternative currents towards a mystical mapping of the city of the future.

The title of each work is significant, creating a relationship between them and evolutionary science fiction narratives. Rendezvous with Rama is taken from Arthur C. Clarke's novel of a large technologically advanced ship called Rama that suddenly appears in the earth's orbit, provoking a whole philosophical and technological departure in mankind. Rama is also the name of the Hindu god who brings light back from darkness. These trajectories are mapped in the arcs of neon that articulate both the arc of flight and fictive narrative. Some of the neon works have also been inspired by Le Corbusier’s designs for the Chandigarh Parliament in India. This is continued into the mapping of structural & formal elements as narrative on and within the textile works.


Shezad Dawood (b. 1974) works across film, painting and sculpture to juxtapose discrete systems of image, language, site and narrative, using the editing process as a method to explore meanings and forms between film and painting. His practice often involves collaboration, working with groups and individuals across different territories to physically and conceptually map far-reaching lines of enquiry. These networks chart different geographic locations and communities and are particularly concerned with acts of translation and re-staging. 

Installation Views