Sharjah Art Foundation is hosting the solo exhibition Zarina Bhimji: Black Pocket from October 2, 2020- .April 10,2021. For over 30 years, Bhimji’s work has staged enquiry into image, object, sound and language, searching for the universal in both its literal and abstract manifestations. Curated by Hoor Al Qasimi, Director of Sharjah Art Foundation, this exhibition presents the most in-depth survey of the artist’s work to date, featuring a number of her seminal works across film, photography and installation. Black Pocket is the artist’s first solo exhibition in the region.
The exhibition examines the artist’s early exploration into forms of knowledge overlooked by established systems of order as well as her later exploration of architecture and landscape as arbiters of complex experience and emotion. Each project, embarked upon after meticulous research and recce trips spanning weeks at a time, sees Bhimji sympathetically inhabit sites via her practice; every location becomes an open-air studio, cleared of political or historic specificity. Unfolding across three galleries in the Foundation’s Aga Khan Award-nominated Al Mureijah Art Spaces, the exhibition resonates powerfully with the diverse historical and geographic connections of communities in Sharjah and the restored and repurposed heritage buildings where the exhibition is located.
‘Zarina Bhimji’s work encourages viewers to think beyond mainstream historical narratives, fusing autobiography, history and collective memory together. In combining her personal narrative with historical archives and post-colonial testimony, she creates a reflection on place and belonging,’ said Al Qasimi. ‘As the first major survey devoted to the artist’s work in the region, Black Pocket is a wonderful opportunity for audiences to experience her rich practice.’
Whether in immersive single-screen films or installations, Bhimji’s work spatialises attitudes, gestures and movements. Allowing sentiment to stand on its own merit, her work confronts our reliance on written narrative, instead using light, shadow, colour and texture to recall the significance of intuition and cultural inheritance. In slow pans across lush forested landscape, lingering shots of emptied architecture, or stamps and seals on official documents, her compositions of image and object come together to create a cacophony of sound and motion that shape and reshape our understanding of the present moment with quiet immediacy.
About Zarina Bhimji
Through the diverse mediums of photography, film and installation, Zarina Bhimji’s practice engages with questions of institutional power and vulnerability, universality and intimacy.
Bhimji’s work is held in public collections at the Tate, London; Art Institute of Chicago; Sharjah Art Foundation; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Government Art Collection, UK; Mead Gallery, Warwick, UK; Perez Art Museum, Miami; Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, US; Kadist Art Foundation, Paris; Arts Council England; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Nottingham City Museum and Galleries, UK; and New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, Leicester, UK. Her work is also part of many private collections.
The artist has received the Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship (2020–2021), Rauschenberg Residency Award (2014) and Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award (1999), and she was a DAAD Artist-in-Residence (2002). She was also nominated for the Turner Prize (2007).
This exhibition is part of Sharjah Art Foundation’s autumn 2020 programme. Also on view are Vantage Point Sharjah 8 and Homebound: A Journey in Photography, which present a wide range of compelling contemporary image-making practices. Tarek Atoui: Cycles in 11 challenges established ways of listening through innovative approaches to sound, while Lindsay Seers and Keith Sargent: Nowhere Less Now3 [flying saucer] marks the reopening of the iconic Flying Saucer with a site-specific multimedia installation.