Magazine article Artforum International

"Resemble/Reassemble": DEVI ART FOUNDATION

Magazine article Artforum International

"Resemble/Reassemble": DEVI ART FOUNDATION

Article excerpt

Featuring miniature paintings and room-size installations, and works whose reference points range from Lollywood (Lahore's film industry) to Pakistan's founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah, "Resemble/Reassemble" sets out to show the broad diversity and the best of contemporary Pakistani art, presenting works by forty-five artists. Curated by Rashid Rana, Pakistan's leading global art star and one of the founding faculty members of the art school at Beaconhouse National University, Lahore, the exhibition is composed exclusively of works from the Lekha and Anupam Poddar collection. The show exemplifies the extraordinary commitment and vision of the Devi Art Foundation, which, in just a year and a half, has become the most important institution for exhibiting contemporary art in South Asia.

"Resemble/Reassemble" presents a fresh and cosmopolitan selection of art from Pakistan, shying away from the prescriptive labeling and categorizations that sometimes plague "national" exhibitions. In fact, the show avoids defining Pakistani art in any cohesive way, thanks to Rana's eclectic choice of works and his decision to organize the exhibition purely visually. Yet even if the curator has shied away from a thematic or developmental organization, certain concerns emerge collectively among artists; not surprisingly, these include colonial history and terrorism, considered jointly by Risham Syed in her "Needlework Series," 2001-2002, which borrows imagery from news coverage of the US invasion of Afghanistan, and refers to South Asians' adoption of Victorian embroidering. Other recurrent topics are sexuality and the tension between religion and secular life.

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Poignantly, many artists invoke an urgent need for open discourse, and speak to the lack of communication and communion paralyzing society. In Ehsan ul Haq's kinetic sculpture Zero Point, 2008, two working fans face each other with the seemingly innocuous task of cooling the air--but instead they blow air only onto each other, creating a useless, indecipherable noise. …

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