Murtaza Vali

  • 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

  • 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

  • LIGHTNING STRIKES

    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

    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.

    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

  • 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

    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.

  • “PHENOMENAL NATURE: MRINALINI MUKHERJEE"

    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

  • SHARJAH BIENNIAL 14: “LEAVING THE ECHO CHAMBER”

    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

  • Yaminay Chaudhri

    Drawing its title from a poem by Agha Shahid Ali, Yaminay Chaudhri’s exhibition “Rooms Are Never Finished” presented portraits of Darakhshan Township, the neighborhood in Karachi, Pakistan, where the artist grew up. Facing the Arabian Sea, the planned housing development was built in the 1980s and sits adjacent to Seaview, one of the city’s most popular public beaches. Through works in different media that together offer an itinerary throughout the area, the exhibition touched on the following issues: urban change, growth and decay, land reclamation and gentrification, and middle-class aspirations

  • Vivek Vilasini

    For a few years in the 1990s, Kochi, India–based Vivek Vilasini was part of the small group of artists gathered around the pioneering Emirati Conceptualist Hassan Sharif. “Between One Shore and Several Others” at 1X1 Art Gallery—which brought together various bodies of mostly photographic work produced since the early 2000s, when Vilasini first picked up a camera—marked his long-overdue return to Dubai. The exhibition’s title, which Vilasini has used for both individual works and solo exhibitions in recent years, reveals his abiding interest in how knowledge, culture, ideas and ideologies

  • Barkley L. Hendricks

    The great Barkley L. Hendricks, who passed away last year, is best known for his majestic painted portraits of confident, self-assured black men and women, their dignified presence amplified through attitude and sartorial panache. Hendricks also worked in many other media—notably photography—and the full-breadth of his creative practice is only now beginning to emerge. “Them Changes” at Jack Shainman presented forty works on paper, including mixed-media collages and watercolors, that Hendricks produced between 1974 and 1984. Though touted as “newly discovered bodies of work” by the