Ten’s to See: ‘Infinity Pattern 1’ by Osman Yousefzada at Selfridges Birmingham
The whole world might have its eyes on the Tokyo Olympic Games right now, but Birmingham is already looking forward to 2022. The Midlands city is set to host the Commonwealth Games next year, and preparations are already well underway to get Birmingham ready for the prestigious sporting event.
As Selfridges Birmingham undergoes renovation work in preparation for the games, the store has unveiled a new, large-scale installation that wraps around the face of the building. The work is by multidisciplinary artist Osman Yousefzada. Born in Birmingham, Osman is the son of Afghani-Pakistani migrants. As a designer, writer and curator, his work is often autobiographical and imbued with a sense of hope and optimism.
Measuring at a whopping 125 ft x 810 ft, and weighing 5 tons, the public artwork is made up of a repetitive, tessellated pattern in black and pink – representing a world beyond borders. “It didn’t sink in how big and how vast the installation was going to be,” explains Osman. “It’s gigantic and I can see it from the streets of Balsall Heath where I grew up. It’s amazing how people from the periphery can occupy spaces in the centre, even for a short period of time.”
Titled Infinity Pattern 1, the work was co-commissioned with Ikon Gallery and comes accompanied by an in-store exhibition, shop and art trail. Like the building’s outer shell, the exhibition addresses issues of race, labour and migration tied to Birmingham’s past, featuring the works of Hira Butt, Farwa Moledina and Maryam Wahid. “[The artists] are all British Pakistani, all from Birmingham with a Muslim background,” explains Osman. “I was part of a group show with Farwa Moledina at the Lahore Biennale, and her work is very reflective. We all have a similar heritage – belonging and occupying space as part of a post-colonial identity narrative. It’s very exciting, and everyone’s work is so different.”
“This new work by Osman Yousefzada is uplifting but also meaningful and deeply connected to the fabric and culture of the city,” says Hannah Emslie, Selfridges’ creative director. “By changing the skyline – at a time when the city itself is changing – we hope to make the world brighter through creative expression, and the people of Birmingham even prouder of their iconic city.”
Photography by Jason Alden.