View of “Huma Bhabha,” 2019. Photo: Charles Mayer Photography.

View of “Huma Bhabha,” 2019. Photo: Charles Mayer Photography.

Huma Bhabha

ICA - Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston

Drawing on more than two decades of work, “They Live” was Huma Bhabha’s largest survey to date. Curator Eva Respini deftly highlighted the artist’s remarkable range of temporal and spatial reference points—from the primeval to the present; from Cuzco, Peru, to Karachi, Pakistan—while focusing on her imagery of the body. Together, the selected pieces expressed complex critiques of what it means to become “civilized” and to civilize others—and attended to the damage inherent in both processes. Although Bhabha leaves her work open to multiple readings, Respini framed those questions, to some extent, within the legacy of colonialism, invoked in the works’ titles and figurative elements.

In the first gallery stood the six-foot-tall bronze The Orientalist, 2007, featuring an enthroned figure on a plinth. Prior to casting, Bhabha combined mundane materials—a chair, lengths of wood, some clay and

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