> Bildungsroman (& Other Stories)

Areez Katki

08 July - 07 August, 2021

The team at TARQ is delighted to present Areez Katki's first solo show in India, ‘Bildungsroman (& Other Stories)’. The title borrows an all-encompassing term from German, for a person's spiritual and psychological journey. In the works created from his time in Mumbai in 2018 till 2021, Katki uses embroidery and archival objects sourced from his family home to explore themes of spirituality, migrant identity and sexuality using domestic cloth as its grounding framework.   He interrogates patriarchal hegemonies using a visual language grounded in domesticity, illustrated with techniques and materials that were once relegated to the “feminine domain.” Using handwoven cotton dust cloths, khadi, glass beads, and repurposed textiles, the artist weaves together his multiple identities as a member of the traditional Parsi community—a child of Zoroastrian immigrants—and a queer New Zealander, reclaiming his heritage by reframing it to fit his identity. Katki's embrace of traditional embroidery techniques, taught to him by his mother and grandmother, is a tribute to the most cherished aspects of his childhood.   According to the curator and writer Anna Miles, “Katki’s approach to making work for the exhibition honours his inheritance of needlecraft traditions via the female members of his family and his consciousness of the political significance of craft practices. He notes the difficulty of recovering matrilineal heritage within Zoroastrian tradition; searching out stories of female deities and independent Parsi women as well as the presence of textiles. The tale of a piece of simple cloth that now tells a grand story, captures his imagination. He eschews the more extravagant frontiers of Parsi textile tradition—bypassing sumptuous brocades, riotously embroidered silk ‘Garas’ and quilted bridal mantles—and selecting to embroider over everyday cloths sourced during his travels …”   The accompanying catalogue includes letters exchanged between Katki and curator Zeenat Nagree over the past 18 months; they examine the more quotidian nature of the works in the show, particularly looking into what constitutes a home during the pandemic. Writing about sensations and memories of home to Nagree, Katki recalls the sound of coconut husks transporting him back to where his story began. “I was transported to Tardeo, where I was born and spent the first year of my life…  A fascination with my ancestral home has led me to think of this site as corporeal; this transmuting vehicle. Functioning some days as an ancient galleon, ferrying familial ephemera to these South Pacific Shores I dwell, with little sense of belonging after even twenty something years of occupation. And occasionally my home transfigures into this mythic sea creature – its tentacles extending wide, with some prehensile occupation to spread open some deep, stiffened creases; to make soft entrances inside long-unoccupied chambers; to reactivate ancient embers and conjure all these sensations: of comfort, of growth and then of loss, of longing.”     Click here to view the exhibition catalogue.      Click here to enter the online viewing room.     Click here to take an appointment.    

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Areez Katki

Areez Katki is an artist & writer who draws from historic and social research to explore his genetic landscapes via processes that include embroidery, weaving, painting, sculpture and printmaking. Born into a Persian Zoroastrian family, his practice addresses the social constructs of spirituality, postcolonial identity and sexuality while, at the same time, raising questions about the political nature of craft itself—employing textiles as an anchoring device to illustrate the migratory condition. Over the duration of his career Katki has focused on the significance of materiality from the domestic realm. He surveys these domains through processes of mark-making, which illuminate his ongoing engagement with storied narratives. With a background in Art History and an early childhood imbibed in the values of craft, Katki's self-developed techniques are based on instinctive responses to textile & fibre research. His work as a visual artist juxtaposes the phenomenology of perceived environmental observations and sensorial reactions with a subjectivity that is fed by formal technical knowledge; needlework as an elevated, tactile medium that is often employed as a storytelling device—one which was matrilineally inherited. Culminating in richly contextualised bodies of work over the past seven years, Katki's work has been exhibited across Aotearoa, and internationally around Asia, North America and Europe. It is held in various private and public collections. His writing has been published in Matters, Art News (NZ), The Pantograph Punch, Elle Magazine (India), Consider Journal, Waist, Saltwater Love, Turbine Kapohau and Lieu Journal. Since early 2020 Katki has been based in Te Whanganui a Tara Wellington, where he crafted a hybrid body of writing, which culminated in a Master of Arts with Distinction from the International Institute of Modern Letters. Katki is represented by Tim Melville Gallery in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. He currently lives and works in Wellington, New Zealand.


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    New Zealand-based artist Areez Katki uses embroidery in ‘Bildungsroman (& Other Stories)’ to depict an understanding of his multi-faceted community. A visit to his ancestral home in Tardeo led to both a period of personal exploration of his identity and also a political critique of systemic issues in the community

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    These cloths, besides being a family archive, are also symbols of togetherness and familiarity within the Parsi community, appealing to the two strands that lent themselves to the exhibit’s name.

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    Artist Areez Katki was born in Mumbai and grew up in various places around the Middle East, until his family migrated to Aotearoa, New Zealand before he was a teenager.

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