YARAT, the nonprofit contemporary art organization in Baku, Azerbaijan, announced today that Suad Garayeva-Maleki has been appointed as its new artistic director. Garayeva-Maleki has served as chief curator of the arts space since 2014. During her tenure, she helped mount exhibitions by artists such as Neil Beloufa, Hannah Black, Oscar Murillo, and Shirin Neshat and curated the venue’s collateral event at the Fifty-Sixth Venice Biennale, “The Union of Fire and Water.” She succeeds Björn Geldhof, who will return to work for the PinchukArtCentre in Kiev.
Prior to joining YARAT, Garayeva-Maleki was a specialist at Sotheby’s London, where she curated exhibitions such as “At The Crossroads: Contemporary Art from Caucasus and Central Asia” (2013) and “At The Crossroads 2: Contemporary Art from Istanbul to Kabul” (2014). She also served as a faculty member at the Istituto Europeo di Design in Venice in from 2015 to 2016 and is currently a guest lecturer at the Azerbaijan State Academy of Fine Arts.
YARAT, which means “create” in Azerbaijani, was established by artist Aida Mahmudova in 2011 as a hub for artistic practice, research, and education in the Caucasus region. The institution comprises YARAT Art Centre, a Soviet-era naval building that was converted into the organization’s main exhibition space; ARTIM Project Space; YARAT Studios; and YAY Gallery.