Back in March 2020, Abel Shah facilitated a series of weekly group discussions and activities at The NewBridge Project, exploring ideas around collaboration, problems encountered working this way and strategies to open up exchange and dialogue. Unfortunately these sessions were cut-short due to the covid-19 pandemic but the group continued to develop their discussions online.
In the time between then and now, Abel Shah led a conversation with members of Into The Wild, Chisenhale Gallery’s artist development programme, on accessibility and sharing information online in relation to their wiki page Mesh: A Sharing Hub for Emerging Artists. They also hosted a series of informal gatherings called ‘Sharing and Caring’ where participants were invited to share something they care about with others in a receptive space that aimed to emulate the daily physical encounters we were all missing so much during the national lockdowns.
All of this research on collaboration, sharing, caring for and with each other, accessibility, hosting and communality, has informed and developed Abel Shah’s practice. Their new body of work Exodysis II will be exhibited at The NewBridge Project from 23rd February to 25th March. This is the second iteration of their sculpture installation, first exhibited at the Swiss Church in London in 2021. Influenced by thinking around bodies as archives, the sculptures are reminiscent of skin- or vessel-like objects. Some fragile, awkwardly balanced or shedding their layers, the objects are in parallel states of destruction and repair. Constructed from everyday materials that have been integral to the developments of the 20th and 21st century’s, including urban housing, high-speed transportation, healthcare technologies, information storage and control of movement, the objects start to act as “shells” of our everyday environments and recent histories.
With collaboration at the core of their practice and an interest in the gallery as a space of facilitation, the body of work has developed alongside ongoing dialogues with fellow practitioners and collaborators by thinking about how meaning and relationships are built through language and exploring alternative ways of communicating.