City and the Everyday
3 APRİL 2012 - 19 MAY 2012
PILOT is pleased to host "City and the Everyday" by Hamra Abbas, the winner of 2011 Abraaj Capital Art Prize, between 3 April and 19 May.
Hamra Abbas has been exhibiting for a numbers of years in important international venues. The diversity of her work, both in terms of form and content, has itself become her hallmark. Clearly, she defies definition, and resists attempts to situate her work under any one label. There are several strands of thought that at times suffuse into a single work, and at other times curve away towards unexpected directions resulting in diverse projects. She is an artist of nomadic temperament, and her themes range from the poetic to the political to the absurd. In a way her works have an antinomian quality despite the meticulous attention to detail, whether it is sculpture, painting, or photography. This unique combination of rigor and fluidity of her practice stems from the artist’s ability to choose her medium in relation to her conceptual repetoire, a rare feat.
About her journey in art, she had this to say: “I have been living in Cambridge, MA, for approximately four years now, experiencing its four seasons, and watching the nearby Charles River freeze into ice, and then back into water once each year. This is my fourth city after Lahore, Berlin, and Islamabad, where I have made home. Since my first sojourn in 2007, I have been returning to Istanbul. I have made work in each of these places, and drawn inspiration from its humdrum of the everyday.” It is obvious that her travels have informed her work in a number of ways. Context is very important to her, which lends her practice an anthropological dimension, signifying elements that have broader implications. The present exhibition is her second solo show to be held in Istanbul. It represents a wide collection of her work, produced in various locations, and brings together under one roof the divergent, yet complementary, trajectories of her experimental oeurve. It is evident that the theme of cities and its people continues to influence her art. She deals with traditional iconography and motifs, displacing, and at times, creating new platforms to view the familiar. She aims to disrupt linear narratives, provoke questions, and gently titillate our senses while we are at it.
Over the years, she has consistently produced work that involves an element of interaction with people, whether in installations, sculpture, or miniature painting. According to Abbas about her new series Idols, “I have been taking photographs of people in Cambridge and Boston over the last one year, and in Istanbul more recently. During this time, news of economic slowdown, high rates of unemployment and the Occupy Movements have been constantly in focus in the media. My aim was to take note of the quotidian in my interaction with the immediate environment. I took to photography as the most effective and efficient means, and photographed random people while running chores on a daily bases. I photographed people working at the supermarkets, post offices, deli stores, restaurants, T stations, construction sites, street vendors, handy-men, and taxi-drivers etc”. This gradually turned into a photo journal of the day-to-day. Asking to take their photograph for no reason other than her being an artist animated and displaced the moment, expanded time. Later on at night, she would organize her photographs to reflect on the portraits, and on the memory of those brief moments shared with strangers in public spaces.“I would turn each photograph into a tiny sculpture and put it away in a box. Over a period of time, I had a number of boxes, and hundreds of heads”. PILOT will display a selection of 22 heads as prints in this exhibition.
Objects is a set of new paper sculptures, which looks like a landscape of ordinary objects. According to the artist the notion of everyday is often (mis)taken as being synonymous with ordinariness, but in reality it is suffused with history, ideology, and other evocative subtexts.
Also on display is a new stained-glass window, first after the monumental Woman in Black (2011) that she created for Abraaj Capital Art Prize.