Leviathan: On Sunspots and Whales premiered the presentation of the fourth episode of the ten-part episodic fictional narrative Leviathan Cycle. The films take place in an imaginary future where just a few survivors remain on Earth after some unexplained cataclysm in the solar system. Each episode is titled after one of the survivors and presented from the perspective of an individual narrator representing a different nationality, ethnicity, gender, and culture. The textile paintings, presented as a series of hangings across the two gallery spaces, were developed in dialogue with the renowned textile manufacturer Fortuny and incorporate several of their handmade fabrics. Artifacts and objects lost by migrants during sea crossing provide visual references for the textile works.


The exhibition also featured a new sculpture inspired by an ancient statue in the Barakat Gallery collection and a new painting inspired by the Korean folktale of “Yeono and Seo.” A Hellenistic piece in the Barakat collection representing a male torso is an excellent example of the contrapposto stance in sculptures from the era, with coral reef remnants on the verdigris on the surface indicating that it laid submerged in the sea for a considerable time. Inspired by that sculpture, Shezad Dawood has created On Becoming Virtual Octopi, a male torso with an octopus head. Thus crossbred with an octopus, an organism with such advanced intelligence and senses that it has even been suspected of having an outer space origin, the form of this work envisions an evolved creature with entirely new senses.

Public Programme

shezad dawood: artist talk
9 September 2018


Recordings of all conversations can be found here.

Research papers commissioned and published by Leviathan can be found here.