Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku opens the new YARAT contemporary arts and education centre today

This is the first permanent space for YARAT, which has commissioned over 120 projects since its foundation in 2011. The 2,000m2 centre, converted from a former Soviet-era naval headquarters, overlooks the Caspian Sea and is a dedicated hub for contemporary art and art education in the region.

YARAT Contemporary Art Centre, Baku is housed in a former Soviet-era naval headquarters. Courtesy YARAT

The opening is marked by both the first exhibition of YARAT’s permanent collection, Making Histories, and an exhibition by Shirin Neshat featuring a major new photographic commission entitled The Home of My Eyes.

YARAT’s new centre for contemporary art will focus on artists from the Caucasus, Central Asia and neighbouring countries. The permanent collection will highlight artists from across this region and a changing programme of temporary exhibitions will feature international artists. The Contemporary Art Centre will also serve as the main space for YARAT’s educational programme, which continues to be central to the organisation’s mission, and will hold a new monthly series of talks, screenings and discussions for adults and younger audiences.

Installation view, YARAT Contemporary Art Centre. Photo Rauf Askyarov, Courtesy YARAT

Also marking the opening is an exhibition from YARAT’s permanent collection, with work by artists from the Caucasus, Central Asia and neighbouring countries alongside work by international artists whose work has a resonance with Azerbaijan. The collection itself has been built over the past three years and will continue to grow in part through special commissions for exhibitions at YARAT Contemporary Art Centre curated by Suad Garayeva.

Rashad Alakbarov, Shabaka, 2012, Installation. Photo Rauf Askyarov, Courtesy YARAT

Founder and Creative Director Aida Mahmudova said that education is at the core of YARAT’s activities and a study centre, with a library and auditorium, will house YARAT’s comprehensive education programme featuring talks, screenings and workshops for diverse audiences from student artists to families.