Asad Raza “Untitled (plot for dialogue)” November 3 – December 16, 2017
From November 3 to December 16, 2017, Converso presents “Untitled (plot for dialogue),” an exhibition of American artist Asad Raza.
For “Untitled (plot for dialogue),” Raza continues his exploration of inhabiting spaces with social practices, human and non-human beings, and objects. At Converso, Raza responds to the space’s architecture, that of a 16th century church, by installing a tennis-like game. This includes nets, lines, racquets, iced jasmine tea, and young human coaches who interact with visitors and coax them into action. The church’s statuary and altar are also incorporated. Raza repurposes the space of the church as a place for receiving messages from higher authorities, into a space of two-way exchange and recreation.
Raza’s involvement in tennis is longstanding; he is an avid player and has written extensively on the subject. Here he reorients the sport as a reflection on the importance of non-productive activities in a society focused on work. For Raza, the game serves as a method of absorbing energetic drives into symbolic, but non-harmful practices. In the case of tennis and similar sports, the activity can be intense or calming. Raza and the coaches are particularly interested in long rallies between individuals, with their back-and-forth, dialogical character, rather than competitive points, with their focus on vanquishing opponents.
Visitors to “Untitled (plot for dialogue)” become more than spectators— practicing with the coaches, they inhabit their bodies in coordinated action. The piece places the experience of play above purely visual appreciation. Players respond to each other through the medium of the ball and the plot of the court. As with chess matches, tennis rallies create ephemeral beauty through actions never to be repeated.
Asad Raza (b. 1974, USA) combines experiences, living beings and objects in his acclaimed work as an artist, producer, programmer and dramaturge. Some recent projects include Root sequence. Mother tongue at the Rockbund Museum, Shanghai, and the Whitney Biennial, New York; “Mondialité” at the Villa Empain, Brussels; “the home show” at his apartment, New York; and The deep past at Frieze Projects – Frieze Art Fair, London.