View of “Bani Abidi,” 2019.

View of “Bani Abidi,” 2019.

Bani Abidi

Gropius Bau

Truth, they say, is stranger than fiction, and Bani Abidi possesses the uncanny knack of driving this dictum home more vividly than almost anyone else. Her sources are news reports and human-interest stories to which she lends a twist, spotting the absurdity in these situations and weaving fictional narratives around them. Her single-channel video An Unforeseen Situation, 2015, for instance, is based on a series of mass events organized by the Punjab Ministry of Sports in 2014, in which multiple world records were ostensibly broken by Pakistanis. Abidi focuses on the patriotic fervor displayed by a youth who aspired to enter Guinness World Records via the eccentric act of breaking walnuts with his head. But she also injects a subversive note, conjuring up another story line in which Pakistani citizens were bribed by the state to take part in a record-breaking feat of collectively singing

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