Bani Abidi: The Music – Modern Artwork Society

John Hansard Gallery, Southampton
11 February - 6 Could


Bani Abidi was born in Lahore, Pakistan and has lived in Berlin since 2011 when she was invited to affix the distinguished DAAD programme there. Earlier than that, Abidi studied first in Lahore after which on the Artwork Institute of Chicago the place she started to develop her observe in transferring picture. Now, one of many main Pakistani artists of her era, her profession has included worldwide solo displays from the Sharjah Artwork Basis to the Baltic Centre for Modern Artwork in Gateshead and participation in Documenta 13 in addition to the Berlin and Lyon Biennales.


Her new work, The Music, is debuting within the UK on the John Hansard Gallery in Southampton, the place it’s offered in a sublime, large-scale set up alongside an older work, Memorial to Misplaced Phrases, 2016. The exhibition has transferred from the Salzburger Kunstverein in Austria.


Abidi’s work usually combines fictional in addition to documentary parts, typically grounded within the expertise of metropolis dwelling. She is famend for her satirical, typically humorous examination of the constructions of political energy; earlier works have centred on a presidential motorcade, or the rhetorical hand gestures of male politicians. Abidi deftly skewers pomposities and dissects the absurdities of institutional ceremonials. She has additionally addressed the persevering with animosity and rivalry between India and Pakistan, the lengthy hangover from Partition in 1947. Right here, in The Music, nevertheless, one thing fairly completely different is occurring. Whereas different movies have been set within the grand enviornment of the town, that is an intimist portrait of 1 man in his condo.


It’s unclear whether or not the person is an actor; he isn’t named, neither is his nationality outlined within the movie. That he’s a refugee in a northern European metropolis turns into shortly obvious, because the opening couple of minutes present him in a naked condo, baggage at his toes, a number of important groceries from his ‘welcome pack’ organized on the kitchen counter. Solitude hangs over the movie like a second character; the person’s each motion and gesture converse of unfamiliarity, of his dislocation from one other life. Twice in the course of the movie scenes from one other metropolis are reduce in, shot from one other condo, from the same peak, looking into the road. These are the locations he goes to in his thoughts. The colors of that metropolis are heat, the sunshine golden. The distinction between the ‘German silence of double glazing’ and the streets of Damascus, alive with voices, vehicles, music, couldn’t be better. This auditory structure is immediately revealed as a necessary a part of a way of residence.


Periodically, we see the person toil up the steps to his condo, this time carrying a carpet, subsequent an electrical fan. Making residence. He sits alone and nonetheless on his one chair. Time expands round him nearly tangibly. He’s of an age the place one would count on him to be a revered determine in his skilled world and, exterior of that, busy with household, with kids and maybe grandchildren. Right here on this isolation, he’s thrown on his personal sources. Doing his personal washing. Navigating overseas meals. He prays, he makes tea.

With nice seriousness and deliberation, the person slowly constructs an orchestra of devices from home objects. With one thing just like the improvisational aesthetic of Fischli and Weiss, mixed with the appeal and inventiveness of modernist theatre, he takes a milk frother and electrical toothbrush as protagonists, with plastic baggage, cookie cutters and cardboard tube to style delicate automata that rattle and rustle, shuffling throughout the ground in a tragi-comic dance. Within the ultimate scenes of the movie the person sits in his armchair, surrounded by his creations, singing quietly, beneath his breath. The humanity and dignity of this portrait are immensely transferring. Although we all know nearly nothing about him, the movie provides an perception into the person’s inside life, expresses advanced combos of longing, loss, consolation and human inventiveness. The novelist Kamila Shamsie has written a gorgeous response to The Music, retrofitting some information of his life, imagining him ten years on from the second of the movie; it’s an affectionate, delicately drawn second portrait, maybe greatest learn a number of hours after seeing the movie.


The Music, 2022, was commissioned by Movie and Video Umbrella, Modern Artwork Society, John Hansard Gallery and Salzburger Kunstverein. Supported by Arts Council England. Offered by Modern Artwork Society to Gallery Oldham


Caroline Douglas


142 – 144 Above Bar Street, Southampton SO14 7DU
Opening Occasions: Tuesday to Saturday, 11.00– 17.00
Exhibition open till 6 Could 2023