Critics’ Picks

View of Khaled Sabsabi's At the Speed of Light, 2016, mixed media, dimensions variable.

View of Khaled Sabsabi's At the Speed of Light, 2016, mixed media, dimensions variable.


“Time of Change”

Adelaide Contemporary Experimental
Lion Arts Centre, North TerraceKaurna Yarta Kaurna Yarta
March 3–April 21, 2018

In this exhibition curated by Abdul-Rahman Abdullah and Nur Shkembi, a collective of Australian artists known as Eleven uses its Muslim cultural roots to provocatively destabilize the notion of a clear national identity. Marked by our moment of renewed intolerances, the works on display, skillfully displayed to be in dialogue with one another, convey a complex panorama of history and personal experience that expresses the apprehensions of an increasingly uncertain world.

The portraits in Iranian-born artist Hoda Afshar’s series “Under Western Eyes,” 2013–14, challenge stereotypes of Islamic women in Western media as well as in art galleries, referenced here by the images’ ironic Pop saturation. Khadim Ali’s The Arrivals #1, 2016, a tapestry from which disturbing demon heads emerge, alludes to the 2001 Tampa affair, when the Australian prime minister used the military to prevent a ship of refugees from entering the nation’s territorial waters; the heads suggest recent polemics connected to local immigration politics.

In the series “Wedding,” 2017, Abdul Abdullah strips away the typology of the kind of staged wedding photo popular in Malaysia, where his mother was born. He does so through lighting that evokes horror movies, an effect heightened by the ski masks covering the faces of the bride and groom. Contrastingly, a refined video installation made in 2016 by Khaled Sabsabi, who was born in Lebanon, channels Sufi spirituality, which identifies the divine with light and with the relationship between visible and invisible. Sabsabi, the collective’s founder, challenges the limits of perception in two hundred and eighteen hours of footage compressed into a single second, expressing itself, as the title reads, At the Speed of Light, along eleven monitors arranged in a circle on the floor.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.