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For the French philosopher Michel Foucault heterotopias were transformative, disturbing and contradictory spaces, mirroring and subverting what is outside. Museums, prisons, ships, cemeteries and asylums can be considered as heterotopic places. They are often spaces used to discipline, control and punish those that are different. For Foucault utopias were unreal but heterotopias were localisable places.

Using Foucault’s concept to explore issues around difference and identity the show takes as its starting point the long friendship of two Iraqi artists, Azad Mohammed and Ausama al Khalil. Al Khalil fled to the UK in 2006, to escape torture and persecution in Iraq, settling in the North East of England, in Middlesbrough. In 2016 he took his own life. Their work will be shown alongside paintings and drawings from Pakistan and the UK

Saud Baloch’s detailed ink drawings are informed by the physical suffering of the “disappeared” in Balochistan in Pakistan. Ray Husband’s expressionistic paintings look at the devastating effects that repressive policies have had on individuals as a result of austerity politics. Ausama al Khalil’s paintings are mementos of a lost homeland and look at the role creativity plays in therapy and reconciliation. Azad Mohammed’s monumental sculpture looks at ideas around displacement, asylum and the sense of home.

For September the gallery will open itself up as a space to raise greater mental health awareness and to discuss human rights with respect to human migration.
The gallery will also host a series of talks, lectures and pop-up events to do with themes raised by the exhibition.

Admission free.

Saabat Gallery

Saabat Gallery is a contemporary art gallery in South Bank, Middlesbrough.