Asad Raza

born 1974, Buffalo, NY
lives in Berlin

Asad Raza’s public sculpture Orientation is part of a larger project that aims to make Lake Erie’s past, present, and futures—its entwined rhythms, eco-systems, and communities—legible. Orientation draws on the Indian astronomical observatories of Jantar Mantar, which were constructed in the early eighteenth century to track the sun, moon, and planets. A contemporary reinterpretation, Raza’s sculpture functions similarly to allow for viewing of shadows and the movements of heavenly bodies. It is connected intimately with its location: Orientation is constructed out of plaster formed from crushed zebra and quagga mussels trawled from Lake Erie, as well as sand, silt, reeds, and rubble. The whole sculpture is scaled for children, opening up an exploration of the stars to younger communities.

Accompanying this sculpture is Delegation, a participatory, performative artwork by Raza that includes a sailing journey and a song. Embarking on a community-building trip from his home-town of Buffalo, New York, to Cleveland over Lake Erie with a small group of local musicians, including RA Washington, LaToya Kent, Rafay Rashid, Andrea Mancuso, Olivier Delrieu-Schulze, and Shasti O’Leary Soudant, Raza navigated the lake while collaboratively composing a multilayered musical composition that begins from the seed of a short song in the Seneca language. Upon landing in Cleveland for the opening of FRONT, they created a dense, spatialized musical experience at Old Stone Church. Subsequently, the core Seneca song is taught through word of mouth and resonates throughout the remainder of the exhibition. The project culminates on the final day of the exhibition, when people are invited to walk from where they are to Transformer Station, singing this song, in order to encounter a senseof togetherness, community, and conviviality through food, music, and more.

Lastly, a new version of Raza’s digital film Ge plays during the closing weekend of FRONT 2022. Ge is an endless and evolving narrative that blends fiction and documentary as it moves around the planet. Raza’s work is deeply collaborative, and his contribution to FRONT 2022 enmeshes the expertise of astronomers, Indigenous scholars, architects, maritime organizations, marine biologists, musicians, and poets. Addressing critical issues of our time—such as the stewardship of the planet—he seeks to develop collective shifts in perspective.

Wade Oval
Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque

Asad Raza, Orientation, 2022, Commissioned by FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art in partnership with University Circle Incorporated, the University at Buffalo Arts Collaboratory, and Cleveland Museum of Natural History

Asad Raza, Delegation, 2022, Commissioned by FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art in partnership with University Circle Incorporated and the University at Buffalo Arts Collaboratory

Asad Raza, Ge, 2020, Commissioned by FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art.

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