Murtaza Vali

  • Sreshta Rit Premnath, Fold 2 (detail), 2021, aluminum, weeds, plastic, IV tube, galvanized steel tube, dimensions variable.
    interviews January 17, 2022

    Sreshta Rit Premnath

    Sreshta Rit Premnath abstracts materials associated with the architecture and institutions of confinement and control—chain-link fencing, metal barriers, aluminum sheets, Mylar blankets, foam mattresses—into floating signifiers that he recombines into installations at once topographical and quietly theatrical. Below, Premnath discusses two related exhibitions, both titled “Grave/Grove” and currently on view at the MIT List Visual Arts Center until February 13, 2022, and Cincinnati’s Contemporary Arts Center until February 27, 2022, where his austere sculptures become unlikely hosts to various

  • Hugh Hayden, Good Hair 2, 2021, wooden desk, Tampico, nylon, epoxy, 33 1⁄2 × 24 × 27". From the series “Good Hair,” 2021.

    Hugh Hayden

    Sculptor Hugh Hayden has enjoyed quick success, his work interrogating the idea of the American dream, often symbolized through the kitchen table, to explore class, aspiration, and the African origins of American cuisine, especially in the South. Hayden’s strength lies in his skillful use of wood—specific types of which he often sources from particular places for their cultural and historical import—as both material and symbol. His exhibition here, titled after his pet name, “Huey,” drew on memories of his Texas upbringing to tackle the knotty subject of African American childhood through

  • Mohammed Chabâa, Untitled, 1977, acrylic on canvas, 29 1⁄2 × 37 1⁄2".

    Mohammed Chabâa

    Organized by Fatima-Zahra Lakrissa for Paris-based Zamân Books & Curating as a follow-up to the traveling retrospective of Mohamed Melehi, “Visual Consciousness” was the first retrospective of Mohammed Chabâa (1935–2013) outside his native Morocco. Bringing together six decades worth of paintings, sculptures, graphic art, interior-design models, and archival material, it revealed the depth, complexity, and influence of Chabâa’s multifaceted practice as an artist, designer, and pedagogue.

    Born in Tangier, Chabâa, like Melehi, belonged to a generation of artists who grew up under colonial rule but

  • Farah Al Qasimi, Um Al Naar (Mother of Fire), 2019, HD video, color, sound, 42 minutes 7 seconds.

    Farah Al Qasimi

    The Persian Gulf is beginning to feel decidedly witchy, with artists and filmmakers in the region increasingly drawn to local folklore and superstitions, referencing cultural practices involving the supernatural and occult that were once common but are increasingly taboo, even sometimes outlawed. Channeling this zeitgeist, Farah Al Qasimi’s “Arrival” explored beliefs and rituals related to the jinn—divinely created beings in Islamic mythology, invisible entities widely feared for their ability to possess humans—in the United Arab Emirates.

    The show’s centerpiece was the roughly forty-two-minute

  • Jordan Nassar, Scatter Them In Forest and Meadow, 2018, cotton thread on cotton, 22 x 22".
    picks December 18, 2019

    Jordan Nassar

    Tatreez is a centuries-old Palestinian form of cross-stitch embroidery, most commonly practiced by women. Its motifs range from wholly abstract patterns to stylized representations of local flora and fauna. Following the Nakba, in 1948, tatreez grew in importance as a national and political symbol, its resonance heightened by the growing precarity of the Palestinian state itself.

    Jordan Nassar uses this medium to investigate the complexities of how members of a diaspora relate to the land of their origin. Rosetta, 2015, the oldest work in this show, is a white-on-white sampler of riffs on

  • Kidlat Tahimik, Ang Ma-bagyong Sabungan ng 2 Bathala ng Hangin, A Stormy Clash Between 2 Goddesses of the Winds (WW III– the Protracted Kultur War), 2019, wood, C-prints, video projection (color, sound, 50 seconds), audio, mosaics, rattan core, figurines, ritual objects, bamboo loom, wrought-iron launchpads, fiberglass, fishing boats, sawdust, tree root, bamboo fences, fauna. Installation view, Al Mureijah Square, Sharjah. From Sharjah Biennial 14. Photo: Haupt & Binder/Universes in Universe.


    THE UNDENIABLE SHOWSTOPPER of this spring’s Sharjah Biennial was filmmaker and artist Kidlat Tahimik’s gallery-filling installation Ang Ma-bagyong Sabungan ng 2 Bathala ng Hangin, A Stormy Clash Between 2 Goddesses of the Winds (WW III–the Protracted Kultur War), 2019. Packed with gods and icons, fantastical beasts, human figures, and other sculptural elements carved out of salvaged wood or woven in rattan, the work imagines an epic standoff between the forces of indigenous resistance and American cultural imperialism, writing a mythic tale around colonial violence and the vicissitudes of

  • T. C. Cannon, Two Guns Arikara, 1973–77, oil and acrylic on canvas, 71 1⁄2 × 55 1⁄2".

    T. C. Cannon

    The painter T. C. Cannon (1946–1978) was only thirty-one when he was killed in a car accident in Santa Fe, New Mexico, leaving behind a startlingly mature body of work that deserves wider recognition. Like that of many American Indians, his art has long been marginalized; this retrospective, curated by Karen Kramer, sought to remedy that injustice.

    Some of the show’s earliest canvases were completed near the end of Cannon’s time at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, the tribal arts college established in 1962 that quickly became a hotbed for radical politics and avant-garde

  • Tallur L. N., Chromatophobia, 2012, mixed media, 91 × 78 × 89".

    Tallur L. N.

    Tallur L. N. makes quixotic sculptures and installations that draw on India’s rich tradition of figurative sculpture, recontextualizing this almost clichéd iconography to wryly critique transformations in the country’s society and culture. This comprehensive survey includes works produced over the past thirteen years and two new works inspired by fragments of medieval sandstone sculptures from the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Contemporary replicas of classical sculptures are common in India, where they serve both ceremonial and decorative purposes. Tallur frequently subjects

  • View of “Rico Gatson and Baseera Khan,” 2019. From left: Rico Gatson, Panel Painting #41, 2019; Baseera Khan, My Family Seated, 2019; Rico Gatson, Panel Painting #42, 2019.

    Rico Gatson and Baseera Khan

    Conceptualized in the aftermath of the sociopolitical upheavals of the late 1960s and released in November 1972, Free to Be . . . You and Me was an award-winning children’s record album and illustrated book that promoted a vision of self-determination minus the strictures of traditional gender norms. Organized by actress Marlo Thomas, the album featured songs and stories recorded by celebrities such as Alan Alda, Carol Channing, Roberta Flack, Michael Jackson, and Diana Ross. Drawing its title from that pioneering franchise, this two-person show, featuring Rico Gatson and Baseera Khan, subtly

  • Stéphanie Saadé, The Encounter of the First and Last Particles of Dust, 2019, carpet, embroidery, 11' 1⁄8“ × 11' 1⁄2”.

    Stéphanie Saadé

    Using artifacts and recollections from her childhood, Stéphanie Saadé has developed a rich conceptual practice that is not just analytic or linguistic, but also affective, engaging both memory and forgetting. Her recent exhibition “The Encounter of the First and Last Particles of Dust” presented a series of visual and material propositions for recording temporal and spatial experiences—alternatives that acknowledge the importance of what other modes of mapping and measuring fail to capture. The journey, a type of lived experience that unfurls through both time and space, was a recurring theme.


    Curated by Shanay Jhaveri

    Adopting fiber as her medium in the late 1960s, Mrinalini Mukherjee created singular knotted-rope sculptures composed of undulating folds, soft crevasses, and drooping protuberances. Teetering between figuration and abstraction, her efflorescent forms revel in the sublime fecundity of nature; undeniably sexual, they also echo classical Indian sculpture. In the mid-1990s, Mukherjee shifted to ceramics, and subsequently to bronze, and this comprehensive exhibition includes sixty works in all three media, ranging from a never-before-shown 1972 fiber piece to a majestic


    Various venues

    Curated by Zoe Butt, Omar Kholeif, and Claire Tancons

    After a trio of single-organizer shows, the Sharjah Biennial returns to the multiple-curator model it used throughout the 2000s, presenting three discrete exhibitions that together investigate the phenomenon of the “echo chamber,” the uncanny bubble of self-validation that alienates us from others and diminishes our capacity to understand and negotiate difference. Zoe Butt will investigate cultural and political “tools” that enable and obstruct human mobility, adopting a key anthropological term to analyze the present. Omar