3 December, 2020–24 January, 2021
Piccadilly Circus
Underground Station

Presented in collaboration with
Cooper Cole, Toronto

Soft Opening and Cooper Cole are pleased to present Memories Gave Birth to Hope, a solo installation of the work of Jagdeep Raina in Piccadilly Circus Underground Station, London.

This installation features Raina’s drawing Jabeen’s face darkened, as whispers of imperialism slipped from her mouth, and then the screen faded to black…where are we going? This work is part of a larger series that looks at the protests taking place throughout Europe in the 1970s against racism and fascism. This was happening alongside the birth of Bhangra music, which was created by working class South Asian Migrant labourers who worked in the industrial factories of Britain—specifically Birmingham and the outskirts of London—and was popularized in Canada, the United States, and back to the Global South.

Bhangra remixed traditional Punjabi folk with hip hop and reggae, and was, to many, a rebellion against rigid holds on tradition in the diaspora. Raina studied the historical development of Bhangra music through documentaries, photographs, oral history interviews, album covers, and other ephemera. Through this research, he became interested in the relationship between Bhangra and anti-colonial, anti-racist, and feminist activism. In Jabeen’s face darkened, as whispers of imperialism slipped from her mouth, and then the screen faded to black…where are we going? Raina overlays portraits of protesters from archival imagery with photographs and poetry, and reflects on the tangled dialogue between politics, music, race, and imperialism in this specific moment.

An expanded version of the exhibition will continue at our Minerva Street gallery space in January 2021.


A SONG BY JONATHAN CHACÓN FOLLOWS…

[Verse 1]
Belted to a seat, the game began and I already lost
The rules are simple, but I can’t seem to follow
You held out your hand
They disapproved and I should’ve too

[Chorus]
In the silence of the night, he directed me
He was my passenger and I was a stranger
I longed to hear the other sounds he could make
But, I waited, for each hand gesture was my answer

[Interlude]

[Verse 2]
A memory stuck on repeat
A fantasy no one could imagine
Here together for a brief moment
A cuddle, a kiss, a late night split

[Chorus]
In the silence of the night, he directed me
He was my passenger and I was a stranger
I longed to hear the other sounds he could make
But, I waited, for each hand gesture was my answer

[Interlude]

[Verse 3]
Your freedom is minutes away
Tomorrow’s agenda has neither of us in it
No longer an obsession, just a story to tell
That would be the most we’ve ever touch
I leave you here, a car filled with each other’s breath

[Interlude]

[Outro]
We drove in silence

Jagdeep Raina (b. 1991, Guelph, Ontario, Canada) has an interdisciplinary practice that spans drawing, textiles, writing, and, more recently, video animation, film and ceramics. In his work, Raina engages with personal and public archives to examine histories of transnational migration by considering them in the context of fluctuating infrastructures of power. Raina’s practice works to conceptually disrupt this fixity and recover heterogeneity. In doing so, the artist reactivates the archive to reveal hierarchies of power that play out across class, gender, caste, race and geography.

Raina was one of the recipients of the 2020 Sobey Art Award. He received his BFA from Western University in 2013, his MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2016, and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2017. He has exhibited internationally at Midway Contemporary, Minneapolis (2019); Art Gallery of Guelph, Guelph (2019); Cooper Cole, Toronto (2019); Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton (2018); Rubin Museum of Art, New York (2018); RISD Museum of Art, Providence (2017); Humber Galleries, Toronto (2017); Provincetown Art Association and Museum, Provincetown (2017); Camden Arts Centre, London (2016); and Modern Fuel Artist Run Centre, Kingston (2016). Raina lives and works in Guelph, Ontario, Canada.