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“The Work Reflects my Personal Story” Osman Yousefzada on Wrapping Selfridges in World’s Largest Canvas

Photographed by Jason Alden

Department store company Selfridges has unveiled a new monumental public art commission by multi-disciplinary Afghan-Pakistani artist Osman Yousefzada. Its Birmingham store, famous for its bulbous blue shape and large silver disks, is now covered by the world’s largest canvas, showcasing Yousefzada’s black and pink patterned design. This new art installation, entitled Infinity Pattern 1, stretches nearly 50 meters in height and 250 meters in length, weighing 5 tons. Unveiled on July 26, it was chosen following an international competition led by Ikon Gallery in Birmingham.

A new landmark for the city, Infinity Pattern 1 addresses issues of race, labor and migration, springing from Her Dreams Are Bigger, a film made by Yousefzada in 2019, in which Bangladeshi garment makers imagine the lives of the women wearing the clothes they make. The work also contains Yousefzada’s autobiographical elements, and stages the concept of a world without physical or imaginary borders.

Osman Yousefzada. Photographed by Jason Alden

“The structural infinity built within the design of this installation is a direct and contrasting response to the garment factory worker’s statement of the limitation within their life’s horizon. Instead, I’m proposing this antidote that conjures up an endless connectivity, new possibilities, and countless new journeys,” the Birmingham-born fashion designer said. “The work is entrenched in autoethnographic elements of migration, community formation and how they happen, interact and settle. The work reflects my personal story and more widely my ethnic history and some of the symbolisms inherent to my culture,” he adds.

The artwork will remain in its completed state until the end of the year, and will be dismantled progressively next year. It is complemented by an in-store art exhibition, shop and art trail, co-designed and co-curated with Ikon. The exhibition shop showcases an exclusive collection including tote bags, blankets and vegan leather accessories all featuring the Infinity Pattern 1 design, alongside a selection of products celebrating the city of Birmingham.

The art exhibition and trail aims to expand the conversation around some of the topics raised by Infinity Pattern 1, through new works by Yousefzada and other Birmingham artists such as Hira Butt, Farwa Moledina and Maryam Wahid, within the Selfridges Birmingham store. The new pieces challenge the stereotypes of ‘The Model Migrant’ and the perception of the role of South Asians in the Western world. 

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