Parasol unit Going Forward

30 October 2019

Press Release

From the spring of 2020, Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art will reposition its activities in favour of an international modus operandi, which means it will be organising exhibitions and artistic projects around the world as well as in Great Britain. The foundation’s winter exhibition devoted to the oeuvre of the French artist Christine Rebet, will take place from 23 January – 28 March 2020 at its current gallery space at 14 Wharf Road, London N1 7RW, and be the last show at Parasol unit after sixteen years of highly acclaimed exhibitions in its permanent gallery space in London.

Of the decision to widen the foundation’s range of activity, Ziba Ardalan, Founder, Artistic and Executive Director of Parasol unit, comments: ‘It was a unique privilege to have founded Parasol unit almost sixteen years ago and to have operated it primarily within a single permanent space in London. These have been simply magical years during which my team and I have successfully presented 58 innovative and thought-provoking exhibitions, run a strand of external artistic projects, bestowed an annual art prize to a number of young artist graduates from various London art schools, produced around 50 scholarly publications, and established fully-fledged educational events for children, families and adults. These activities not only have gained the foundation remarkable reputation on the international art scene, but also in many ways had a beneficial influence on cultural life of our local Hackney neighbourhood. The countless memories I have from this period will remain with me always and certainly inspire and strengthen my future endeavours.’

‘However, from the outset and due to the dynamic nature of the organisation and the art world, together with my own deep passion for and commitment to contemporary art, I have set myself the goal of steadfastly re-evaluating the concept of the foundation’s activities. Today, in the current artistic climate, it seems that my mission as a curator ought to be to think ever more dynamically and beyond the borders, and to take considerably more time to reflect on the worldwide practice of art. Therefore, from the spring of 2020, Parasol unit will only hold exhibitions in whatever part of the world I feel the dialogue is needed.’

Elaborating further, Ziba Ardalan continues, ‘I would like to take this opportunity to thank the city of London for its openness and hospitality. During all these years, the unfailing support of Parasol unit’s remarkable Board of Trustees has been instrumental in encouraging me to continue my work and I cannot find words to thank them enough. My gratitude goes especially to the artists for their continued trust in my curatorial knowledge and expertise; to the art critics and journalists for their recognition and support of our innovative and forward-looking exhibition programme and for having disseminated the foundation’s reputation internationally; to the foundation’s friends and supporters for their unwavering belief in my professional ability; to our hugely diverse and responsive public audience for all their encouraging words and comments; and finally to my highly-esteemed team, who have worked with dedicated enthusiasm to realise the numerous exhibitions and art projects we set our minds on.’

‘In 2004 when Parasol unit opened its doors in London, a city where I hardly knew anyone, the undertaking seemed an adventure. Our exhibition programme, focused on both international and young British talents as well as on established artists whose work had been somewhat overlooked within recent discourses on contemporary art soon brought critical acclaim to the foundation. Indeed, 16 years and 58 solo and group exhibitions later, we have collaborated with over 100 artists. It is not possible to overlook the success of the foundation’s 5th, 10th and 15th anniversary celebrations. Each event convincingly confirmed that Parasol unit’s presence and position in the international art world was wholly justified, judging by the unanimously enthusiastic participation of its audience. Two combined and successful 10th Anniversary auctions at Sotheby’s and Paddle 8 raised almost £2.5 million. And, five years later, The Spark Is You, two exhibitions held simultaneously in Venice (as a collateral event of the 2019 Venice Biennale) and London, showcased conceptual artworks by 13 Iranian artists. A selection of distinguished educational events supported the two exhibitions and the combined events have already attracted over 40,000 visitors. Looking back, I am fully convinced that Parasol unit has so far been a remarkable venture and a fascinating journey.’

‘As we move on towards new and exciting projects, I look forward to welcoming many of you to the future exhibitions and events Parasol unit will organise in various parts of the world.’

Ziba Ardalan

London, 30 October 2019