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At Frieze London, Experimenter looks at the ‘body’ and the space it exists in

The gallery returns to the fair after five years with artists such as Radhika Khimji and Praneet Soi, who have created deeply self-reflective works around the body and its relationship with space

'Orange Sun' by Radhika Khimji, (2020, oil, thread on photo transfer on paper). Photo: courtesy Experimenter
'Orange Sun' by Radhika Khimji, (2020, oil, thread on photo transfer on paper). Photo: courtesy Experimenter

With a successful showcase at Art Basel 2020 between 23-26 September, titled Do You Know How to Start a Fire, Experimenter is now getting ready for its next online viewing room (OVR) at Frieze London. While the Basel exhibition strained a political and anthropological lens on current issues through new works by Biraaj Dodiya, Prabhakar Pachpute, Ayesha Sultana and Rathin Barman, this particular one focuses on the body and its relationship with space.

With a preview on 7 October and the OVR going live two days later, this exhibition marks Experimenter’s return to the fair after five years. “Frieze London was the first fair we showed at in 2010, but didn’t exhibit for a couple of years in between. We now return to Frieze after 2015," says Prateek Raja, founder, Experimenter. The works by Sultana, Nadia Kaabi-Linke, Radhika Khimji and Praneet Soi will be shown simultaneously at the OVR and at a physical exhibition at the gallery’s Hindustan Road space. “Just having a two-dimensional reference of the works is not enough. There needs to be a certain physicality to them as well," adds Raja.

'Memento Mori' by Praneet Soi (2018, acrylic, silverpoint on linen). Photo: courtesy Experimenter
'Memento Mori' by Praneet Soi (2018, acrylic, silverpoint on linen). Photo: courtesy Experimenter

Of the works being showcased, Khimji’s creations made through the lockdown seem deeply introspective, rooted in the times that we live in. Using thread work, drawing and photo transfers, she has created meditative works featuring the body or the absence of it.

Some of her works focus on things that are in a state of disrepair or are broken, which Khimji then attempts to mend through her thread work. “Radhika’s work is rooted in her lived experiences. In a lot of her works, she looks at her own body and the notions of body in space, but she takes it away from any kind of identification," elaborates Raja. “Her practice makes use of processes that are traditionally considered to do with mending and repair. She stitches through punctured paper, but it also turns out a way to repair things."

As Khimji writes in her artist statement that her way of working, informed by the physicality and materiality of the making process, deconstructs, evades and erases constructions of formulated identities. “I question categorisation and often play with terms and naming of things to generate a new narrative for an object and render it abstract from its loaded history," she writes.

'Standing' by Radhika Khimji. Photo: courtesy Experimenter
'Standing' by Radhika Khimji. Photo: courtesy Experimenter

There are certain works such as Standing Still is a Process, which involve photo transfers on paper. These are not photo realistic or representational art but just different ways of alluding to the body. The titles are not just revelatory of the idea behind the creation but also about the processes that have gone in. Khimji has a robust studio practice in London, and shuttles between the UK and Oman, where she was born. “She lives alone and this is reflective in some of the singularity that you see in the works. Patterns that emerge allow you to look at the ‘now’ in a different way," adds Raja. Of the 30 suites of work that Khimji has made, 18 are being shown at Frieze London and 12 as part of InTouch, an ongoing series of collaborative online exhibitions by 12 galleries.

The other artist in the exhibition who carries forth his engagement with the body in the context of architecture is Praneet Soi. The falling figure, in particular, has been making an appearance in his work for the past 19 years. His practice stems from the circulated image in the media of conflict, its archiving and re-appropriation. This started with the changing political climate following the fall of the Twin Towers, which was represented differently from those emerging from around Asia. “Images emerging from Afghanistan seemed anachronistic, almost biblical. The Western gaze of the East was different from how it looked at its own landscape. I wondered why that happened and began to build an archive of images," he mentioned in a previous interview. In this show, one can see the latest from his ongoing series, Memento Mori, which looks at how free fall is manifested in different ways. “The falling body takes the form of a line drawing which is then expressed as a metal structure. Using different materials becomes a way of calibrating this idea," adds Raja.

Experimenter will showcase at Frieze London between 9-16 October. The preview will be held across two days on 7-8 October.

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