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Sumayya Vally | Waiting Upon
Research 1 September 2021–30 March 2022
Process photograph from Waiting Upon, Sumayya Vally’s Course of Enquiry at A4, depicting a roadside mosque in Saudi Arabia. At the front, a rectangular shape laid out with rocks on the ground. In the back, a tree with two divergent branches.
Process: Sumayya Vally, Roadside Mosques (2022). Archival pigment ink on photographic paper. Dimensions variable; approx. 42 x 30 cm each. Courtesy of the artist.
Title Sumayya Vally | Waiting Upon Dates 1 September 2021–30 March 2022 Location Resident's Studio Tagline Sumayya Vally joins A4 as an integrated practitioner through the foundation’s Course of Enquiry. Credits

Sumayya Vally

Waiting Upon speaks to a particular mode of waiting. It is not a suspenseful waiting, but that of potential. It knows something will happen, but precisely what will be determined by the conditions of possibility and what is brought to the communal table. 

Following a brief residency at A4 in November 2019, architect Sumayya Vally chose Waiting Upon as the title to begin a Course of Enquiry at the foundation. Holding space for routine conversation and creative exchange twice a month, Waiting Upon enables the suspension of the pace of usual work, allowing the practitioner to step into an informal space demarcated for relational and reciprocal wandering and wondering. Some questions asked include, “What kind of engine is a gallery or institution to a project?” and “What is its utility?” coupled with a search for autonomous (self-possessed, self-correcting) structures and objects.

Sumayya’s iteration of COE will conclude with a public presentation at A4 in 2022, conceived of as an “assembly of critical friends” where new work by the integrated practitioner will be presented in the company of other works as part of a constellation of meaningful associations that emerge from, and reflect on, a process of nascent ideation and things taking shape. 

During her COE, Sumayya is invited to perform the role of 'integrated practitioner', a reciprocal position articulated by Kathryn Smith. Complementing the logic of a COE, the integrated practitioner visits A4 with an open research agenda. For a period of time, A4 becomes an extension of their studio/study, which in turn opens up the foundation’s processes to the breadth and learnings of their practice. We imagine the integrated practitioner as a human API, acting as a critical translation layer between practitioners, organisational systems and the wider public.

A4’s Course of Enquiry invites curators to develop a six-month programme centred on ‘making public’ their modes of investigation.

Course of Enquiry offers insight into research as process, with all the attendant segues and obstacles necessary to the curatorial form. Curators’ engagements with their guiding questions are observed and documented through a programme that considers the journey of ideas, from experimentation to expression. Where are the meanderings, the dead-ends, the points at which thoughts coalesce? How might this unfolding be made apparent? In the spirit of ‘elastic rigour’ (to use Carlo Ginzberg’s term), the accompanying translations of curatorial process – be they aural, written, visual or tactile – are guided by the individual enquiries, their outcomes anticipated but as yet unknown.

The resulting research and its traces are shared with the public in a series of events, texts and multimedia offerings.