The Azeri contemporary art organisation YARAT has been actively working since its opening to build itself as a regional hub for contemporary production in the Caucasus and Central Asian region. Its most recent news includes the announcement of Suad Garayeva-Maleki as its newest artistic director, who will take over from Björn Geldhof, who is returning to PinchukArtCentre, and “marks a moment of amplification for the organisation,” shared YARAT in its press statement following the reveal.
While YARAT, a non-profit, non-governmental entity founded by Aida Mahmudova in 2011, does focus on its home region with exhibitions and special commissions from artists speaking to the surrounding environment, it also makes a dedicated effort to international contemporary art and exposing and educating local audiences. In line with this ethos is the work of Garayeva-Maleki, who has been at YARAT since 2014 as its chief curator and has helped realise noted exhibitions with artists such as Neil Beloufa, Hanna Black, Oscar Murillo and Shirin Neshat, as well as group shows such as Little Lies, 300 Words on Resistance and the critically acclaimed presentation at Palazzo Barbaro at the the 56th Venice Biennale entitled The Union or Fire and Water, which featured Almagul Menlibayeva and Rashad Alakbarov.
Prior to her posts at YARAT, Garavyeva-Maleki curated projects for the Nouveau Musee National de Monaco, MAMbo Bologna, and was a specialist at Sotheby’s London for art from the Caucasus where she organised pioneering exhibitions on the region such as At The Crossroads: Contemporary Art from Caucasus and Central Asia and its follow-up, At The Crossroads 2: Art from Istanbul to Kabul.
YARAT is a multi-channel hub that comprises YARAT Art Centre, the main exhibition space existing in a converted 2,000-square-metre Soviet-era naval building that reopened in March 2015, ARTIM Project Space, YARAT Studios, YAY Gallery and an educational and public programme.