Memories Gave Birth to Hope, Part Two

COOPER COLE and Soft Opening are pleased to present Memories Gave Birth to Hope, a solo exhibition of the work of Jagdeep Raina. This exhibition is a continuation of Raina’s installation at Picadilly Station which took place from December 3-January 24, 2021.

This exhibition features a series of drawings and textile works by Raina that explore the birth of Bhangra music. Bhangra was created by working class South Asian Migrant labourers who worked in the industrial factories of Britain—specifically Birmingham and the outskirts of London—and was popularized in Canada, the United States, and back to the Global South. Developed in the late 1970s and remaining popular until the early 1990s, Bhangra remixed traditional Punjabi folk with hip hop and reggae, and was, to many, a break from the rigid holds of tradition.

Many of the lyrics were politically inflected, calling for anti-colonial, anti-racist, queer and feminist futures, and Bhangra club culture created spaces where external markers such as race, sexuality, and gender could be exceeded. Raina conducted his research in both formal and personal archives, referencing documentaries, photographs, oral history interviews, album covers, and other ephemera. His resulting works collapse visual references to album covers, portraiture, Punjab phulkari embroidery, and poetry to reflect on the tangled dialogue between imperialism and self-expression that continues to resonate today.

A poem by Keorapetse Kgositsile, selected by Sam Vernon, follows.

Mandela’s Sermon

Blessed are the dehumanized

for they have nothing to lose

but their patience

False gods killed the poet in me. Now

I dig graves

with artistic precision

Jagdeep Raina (b. 1991, Guelph, Ontario, Canada) has an interdisciplinary practice that spans drawing, textiles, writing, and, more recently, video animation, film and ceramics. In his work, Raina engages with personal and public archives to examine histories of transnational migration by considering them in the context of fluctuating infrastructures of power. Rainas practice works to conceptually disrupt this fixity and recover heterogeneity. In doing so, the artist reactivates the archive to reveal hierarchies of power that play out across class, gender, caste, race and geography.

Raina was one of the recipients of the 2020 Sobey Art Award. He received his BFA from Western University in 2013, his MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2016, and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2017. He has exhibited internationally at Midway Contemporary, Minneapolis (2019); Art Gallery of Guelph, Guelph (2019); Cooper Cole, Toronto (2019); Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton (2018); Rubin Museum of Art, New York (2018); RISD Museum of Art, Providence (2017); Humber Galleries, Toronto (2017); Provincetown Art Association and Museum, Provincetown (2017); Camden Arts Centre, London (2016); and Modern Fuel Artist Run Centre, Kingston (2016). Raina lives and works in Guelph, Ontario, Canada.

Artworks

Jagdeep Raina

Arora archive

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Arora archive, 2015

Mixed media on paper

J.Raina0030

22" X 30"
55.88cm X 76.2cm

Jagdeep Raina

Teamwork

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Teamwork, 2015

Mixed media on paper

J.Raina0046

60" X 44"
152.4cm X 111.76cm

Jagdeep Raina

Desi Punjabi Songs for Lovers

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Desi Punjabi Songs for Lovers, 2015

Mixed media on paper

J.Raina0044

60" X 44"
152.4cm X 111.76cm

Jagdeep Raina

You reappear again

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You reappear again, 2015

Mixed media on paper

J.Raina0048

50" X 60"
127cm X 152.4cm

Jagdeep Raina

Club Kali

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Club Kali, 2020

Embroidery thread, phulkari border on muslin

J.Raina0050

34" X 12"
86.36cm X 30.48cm