Critics’ Picks

Taslima Ahmed, North, South, East, West, Gun, Safe, 2015, beretta 9mm pistol inside steel safe, 12 x 17 x 4"

Taslima Ahmed, North, South, East, West, Gun, Safe, 2015, beretta 9mm pistol inside steel safe, 12 x 17 x 4"

New York

Taslima Ahmed

Real Fine Arts
February 28–March 29, 2015

Risky scenarios clash with compulsions toward stability in “I: A High Stakes Gamble,” Taslima Ahmed’s New York solo debut. Including a factious composite of glossy PVC-laden prints and sculptures, wall-embedded security safes, and a two-player card-game sculpture, the exhibition questions contemporary art’s relationships with uncertainty. Seven laminated C-prints mounted to Sintra populate the gallery walls, each of which displays an atmospheric, digitally rendered environment punctured by subtle moments of urgency. Helter Skelter (all works 2015) shows a struggling pair of hands clutching the cusp of a perilous, moonlit mountain. In Throw Your Life Away, a blurry, backlit dashboard (ostensibly in transit) provides the backdrop for a seemingly spotlit, sharply rendered falling feather and the outstretched palm seen reaching to catch it. Elsewhere, two steel security safes are installed flush against gallery walls. One of the steel works, North, South, East, West, Gun, Safe also holds an imitation Beretta 9-mm pistol. Beyond its wide-reaching use among law enforcement and private security forces, the Beretta is also a favorite for personal defense.

With Passion, a resin-coated table strewn with silk-screened glass card tiles, Ahmed formulated a simple betting game in which the participants are classified as master, citizen or slave. Hierarchy is embedded in the game’s rules, and power grabs are achieved by accurately blind guessing the opponent’s card in play. Whereas game theory specifically aims to minimize risk by collating hypothetical scenarios and exhaustively mapping chance, the procedures for Passion forego such mathematical determinism, in favor of spontaneity. Reading artworks as evidence of decision-making, Ahmed exploits these terms by arranging nearly a dozen pieces of varying media and themes that together foreclose a feeling of coherent certainty.