basel

Naeem Mohaiemen, Rankin Street, 1953, 2013, video, black-and-white, sound, 7 minutes 43 seconds; blueprint drawings, print on archival paper, sandstone 3-D print. Installation view.

Naeem Mohaiemen

Kunsthalle Basel

Naeem Mohaiemen, Rankin Street, 1953, 2013, video, black-and-white, sound, 7 minutes 43 seconds; blueprint drawings, print on archival paper, sandstone 3-D print. Installation view.

For politically topical art to achieve lasting significance, it must be profoundly concrete and operate with references to a specific context. For a formidable example, consider the first European solo exhibition of the Bangladeshi artist, author, and anthropologist Naeem Mohaiemen, arranged by the kunsthalle’s departing director, Adam Szymczyk, and his assistant curator Fabian Schöneich. In a series of discrete constellations of photographs, films, and objects, Mohaiemen traces the shift from a stance of radical activism in the postcolonial conflicts of the early 1970s to the more reflective posture of a late-born generation, writing history from a distanced vantage point. His personal knowledge of the violence of Bangladesh’s war for independence from Pakistan in 1971 is limited to a few fragmentary recollections, most of which make sense only in retrospect, and to stories told

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