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Rasheed Araeen

Discosailing: A Ballet on Water, 2024

Discosailing is a participatory art ‘action’ that was first conceived by the artist Rasheed Araeen in 1970 and has developed in the years since. Araeen describes it as “a system of sailing, or floating on water… Discosailing, performed individually or collectively involving many performers, may appear as a sport but its underlying conception is the idea of a floating sculpture or sculptures. It can also be perceived as a form of a live performance.”

On 27 July 2024, to coincide with the first day of the Paris 2024 Olympics, The Line will realise the first manifestation of Discosailing to have ever been performed in the UK on the Waterworks River at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Six performances will unfold during the day, each lasting 30 minutes. Nine participants will float on discs and wear sails in bright colours that echo Araeen’s bold sculptures and painted works.

Like much of Araeen’s practice, Discosailing is an invitation for people to become part of his work. Through a meditative, experimental encounter, participants are invited to play with a connection between the body, object, water and space.

A second day of free performances will take place on 27 September 2024, times to be confirmed.

If you are an individual or part of a group that would like to participate, please click the appropriate link below for more information.

Please note: individuals are invited to the last performance of the day at 4.30pm. Spaces are limited and will be selected randomly. We will let you know if you have been allocated a Discosailing performance slot by 15 July.


Spectating is welcomed – and free! Please see following performance times:

27 July 2024

11:30 – 12:00

12:30 – 13:00

13:30 – 14:00

14:30 – 15:00

15:30 – 16:00

16:30 – 17:00

27 September 2024 – performance times and sign up information will be shared soon.

Co-curated with Arup Phase 2

In collaboration with London Youth Rowing


Courtesy of the artist and Grosvenor Gallery 


Discosailing will be performed on the Waterworks River between London Aquatics Centre and UCL East at what3words location mixed.songs.motion


Born and educated in Pakistan, Rasheed Araeen trained as an engineer before moving to Europe in the 1960s to become one of the pioneers of minimalist sculpture in Britain.

In the following decades, Araeen’s practice – in performance, photography, painting and sculpture – began to develop an overtly political content which drew attention to the way in which Black artists were invisible within the dominant Eurocentric culture.

Through his activities as a publisher, writer, and artist, Araeen was a pivotal figure in establishing a Black voice in the British arts. In 1987 he founded the groundbreaking journal Third Text and in 1989 he curated the seminal exhibition The Other Story, Afro-Asian artists in post-war Britain at the Southbank Centre. This was the first major retrospective of work by Asian and African artists in Britain, all of whom had made significant contributions to the artistic scene since the 1950s,

Araeen has exhibited widely, and his work is included in public and private collections around the world. Recent exhibitions include Frieze Sculpture, London (2021) and 2018’s Rasheed Araeen: A Retrospective which toured to Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, The Netherlands, MAMCO Genève, Switzerland, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, and in 2019, to the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow, Russia. In 2019 he opened Shamiyaana, a communal meeting place and restaurant in Stoke Newington. As an extension of his studio practice, the space is also a manifestation of his belief in the potential of collective action. In 2023, Araeen’s participatory sculpture, Zero to Infinity, was shown in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern, London.

Araeen lives and works in London.

Image: Lorna Powell

A high angled photograph of a person, arms out wide, with yellow wearable sails stood on a round red disc
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