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Parsis: The Zoroastrians of India Pakistan and The World

Areez Katki: Bildungsroman at the Otago Museum

Otago Museum is thrilled to host Areez Katki’s acclaimed textile-based art exhibition, Bildungsroman, at the H D Skinner Annex opening on Saturday 11 January.

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The embroidered works explore Katki’s two, often conflicting, identities.

Katki is a Parsi, an ethnoreligious group originally from Iran who fled to India during the first Muslim invasion between the 8th and 10th century. The Parsis are an opaque and insular population, traditionally only marrying within their community and keeping centuries old customs. They follow Zoroastrianism, an ancient religion, mostly known in the West for the ‘towers of death’ where bodies of the dead are taken to be fed to vultures.

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Katki was born into the sacred Osta clan, and as such is an ordained Zoroastrian priest. But alongside this identity is another; Katki is also an openly queer New Zealander, living as a fashion practitioner and artist in Auckland.

The push and pull of these two worlds, and an open celebration of Parsi culture and family are explored in the textile pieces.

Bursting with colour and playfulness, they weave the threads of his heritage together. The exhibition displays 29 new works by the artist, developed over the past eight months while he was living and working in India. Borrowing from his Mother’s 1970s stenography notebook, the works feature shorthand, along with patterns and images to tell his stories.

Alongside the works, the exhibition also contains a number of documentary elements from the artist’s travels – photographs, heirlooms, audio content, and journal entries – giving a dense and layered experience for viewers.

The exhibition was recently named by Art Collector magazine as one of the top 50 in Australasia, and is free to the public here in Dunedin.

Craig Scott, Head of Exhibitions and Creative, said, “We are just so pleased to have this amazing exhibition in our city. Areez is one of New Zealand’s best contemporary, craft-based artists, and these pieces carry an incredible depth, communicating so much”

Open for the next four weeks the exhibition is highly anticipated among Dunedin’s art community and offers a window into the veiled world of the Parsis.

About Areez

Areez Katki is a multidisciplinary artist & textile practitioner based in Auckland, New Zealand. Drawing from historic and social research, he addresses his value for craft sensibilities through a research driven contemporary practice. Over the duration of his career Katki has focused on the significance of materiality in the domestic realm through personal processes of fabricating textiles and an ongoing engagement with their narratives. With a background in Art History and an early childhood imbibed in the values of craft, Katki developed a practice based on instinctive responses to textile & fibre research. Often juxtaposing the ephemeral synaesthesic responses to his environment with a subjectivity around formal processes of fabrication that were matrilineally inherited.

Culminating in richly contextualised bodies of work since 2015, Katki raises questions around the political nature of craft; proclaiming his role as a craftsperson within the realm of contemporary art. The works have addressed social constructs of identity, spirituality and sexuality that have since been explored through various mediums including beaded tapestry weaving, embroidery, paint, sculpture and printmaking.

In 2019 after a ten month-long residency based in Mumbai, India, Katki exhibited his premiere solo body of work Bildungsroman. A narrative that surveys the depths of domestic materiality whilst investigating issues around identity, spirituality and sexuality. Traversing his genetic landscapes across Persia and his birthplace in India, the work was exhibited at Malcolm Smith Gallery in the Eastern region of Auckland where Katki was raised. Bildungsoman is currently touring to institutions across Aotearoa over 2019-2020.

Exhibition Info

Otago Museum

10am–4pm, 11 January to 9 February

419 Great King Street, Dunedin, New Zealand

Filed Under: Art