With the 2014 FIFA World Cup just days away and the global football virus reaching pandemic levels, emerging video artist and Mediolana Creative Director & CSO Asad Yawar probes that little bit deeper in his latest piece, World Cup Fever + Modern Life is Rubbish = Favela Chic (2nd June 2014). The packaging of two iconic products from Nike, Inc. and The Coca-Cola Company are reproduced in lavish detail, their respective hues of red demanding attention; the camera then moves away in a series of shots which reveal the packaging’s location on an improvised refuse dump. The final shot of a (presumed local) gentleman walking away appears to be emblematic of our collective relationship with hypermodern consumerism; we would prefer not to acknowledge the more problematic aspects of our behaviour, but our involvement in engendering unsustainable patterns of consumption is undeniable.
Continuing to add to his rapidly expanding portfolio of work, emerging video artist Asad Yawar addresses three key themes in his contested February 2014 work Essentially Captured:
- Disorientation. The first image the viewer is presented with is an arrow sign next to some construction paraphenalia – but the observer is not left with any precise idea of what this signifies, at least initially.
- Authority. The camera switches to a panoramic view of a notice explaining the nature and necessity of the roadworks. The artist then focuses in on the word ‘essential’, probably with a relatively high degree of irony.
- State Capture. The date by which the roadworks will be completed – and the residents and users of the Chelsea street in which they are taking place will cease to be inconvenienced – has been left blank, possibly in a nod to the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991, which left the UK’s highways at the mercy of workmen from innumerable utilities companies; in this vision of the relationship between the state and other powerful actors, the former have become not merely responsive to but captured by private interests – at a significant, possibly unquantifiable cost.
With the global financial crisis still dominating the headlines the best part of seven years after the first obvious signs of impending collapse, emerging video artist and Mediolana Creative Director & CSO Asad Yawar explores our relationship with money – to be precise, credit – in The Technology of Desire. A cold February evening on one of London’s busy thoroughfares – the south end of Tottenham Court Road – sees Yawar focus in on an advertisement for Barclays PLC. Viewers may note the contrast in the first frames between the ‘light’ represented by this august institution’s commercial, and the pronounced invisibility of its surroundings. The camera then takes in a figure tapping away on a smartphone banking interface before immersing itself in the strapline words ‘money’ and ‘want’; these final two shots are particularly powerful given the menacing soundtrack, probably the sound of bus engines revving in the background.
Continuing the theme of sudden capital flows and their effect on local urban fabrics, Mediolana Creative Director & CSO Asad Yawar – who is rapidly cementing his reputation as an emerging video artist of note – invites the viewer to luxuriate in the Bulgari Residences in his latest Vine composition, That’s My Soul Up There. The video lingers on an elevated shot of one of London’s most dazzling new projects, a development which comprises no less than the entirety of 163-173 Knightsbridge; located a short walk from the world-famous Harrods department store, its coordinates and specification bar anyone who is not either a member of the global economic elite or those servicing them from doing anything other than looking at it, a point which is deliberately accentuated by Yawar as the camera slowly sweeps away from the building.
Asad Yawar – the Creative Director & CSO of Mediolana – continues his rising trajectory as an emerging video artist with a melancholic piece that captures the paradoxical desolation of New Year’s Eve 2014 in London, England. Dubai Comes to London: The McDonaldisation of Kensington focuses on 375 Kensington High Street, a complex of luxury apartments presently being constructed at the western end of one of the Queen of England’s most famous highways. The vantage point for the film is the lower deck of a number 9 bus – one of a handful of routes featuring the iconic New Bus for London – from which the videographer gazes at the building site across the road. The less-than-capacious floor heights of the new block are quite noticeable even at this distance, with many hundreds of thousands of pounds not enough to transcend this particular architectural trend. As the bus moves off, a ‘tear’ can clearly be seen streaking the bus window as the older, more generous architecture comes into view. While capital flows from the Gulf Cooperation Council are making headlines in the form of marquee projects such as the Qatar-owned Shard, a host of less famous projects are rapidly altering the character of this most international of international cities, with seemingly few questions being asked about whether the new architectural forms are engendering a sense of dislocation.
In contrast to his previous piece The Trashcan of Society?, in Economic Climate Change Mediolana Creative Director & CSO and emerging video artist Asad Yawar focuses his lens on a domestic object which nevertheless has macrocosmic ramifications: the washing machine. In a large London household goods store catering to the planet’s aspirational lower middle-classes sits a sparkling white domestic appliance whose tag nevertheless reveals an uncomfortable truth: one of its unique selling points is that it can be set to commence cleaning three, six or nine hours in advance, either for user convenience or when the electricity rate is lower. The central message that unthinking, uncritical consumption is a thing of the past and that every usage demands auditing will not be lost on householders across the developed world; the final shot, a childlike stare at the washing machine door, is possibly a reference to a simpler, more naïve era.
With darkness enveloping the United Kingdom in both the literal and metaphorical senses, our Creative Director & CSO and emerging video artist Asad Yawar depicts this urgent sense of desperation in his blunt new work, The Trashcan of Society? (‘Trashcan’.) Set on the platform of a London Overground station – Imperial Wharf – that is surrounded by East Asian-style towers containing millions of pounds of mortgage debt, Trashcan focuses on the feet of a passenger waiting for a train; perhaps predictably and realistically, the train does not arrive. Instead, the viewer’s attention is drawn to the precarious nature of contemporary existence as exemplified by a shot of the passenger’s feet between two lines – one of which is a warning line beyond which it is dangerous to stray. This dilemma is resolved by the final two shots focusing on a transparent litter bin of the kind that can be found throughout the Overground network, with the last shot seeing the artist-passenger thrust deep into the refuse-laden receptacle.
A particularly notable feature of this work is the eerie soundtrack, a noise produced by the way the wind blows around the unusual, half-finished cityscape of Imperial Wharf, where tall buildings give way to barren construction sites; this adds to the unique atmosphere of the piece.