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Friday, January 01, 2010

Bani Abdi

Karachi Series 1 consists of a series of six photographs on lightboxes, all featuring a central protagonist involved in a seemingly banal, domestic activity in the middle of a deserted street at sunset. The light, the postures of the figures and the focused calm of their activities imbue a gentle and shared melancholy to each scene. The images, and by extension the protagonists, are clearly part of a common larger narrative. The accompanying titles list names, times and places bring to the fore the common circumstances of their creation. The photographs are all taken in Karachi in the last ten days of August 2008; all at roughly 7.45pm; and the names of the individuals suggest that they are part of the non-Muslim minorities of Pakistan – Christian, Parsi and Hindu. Karachi Series 1 is an exploration of the place of religious minorities in a public environment not known for its acceptance of difference. During the month of Ramadan, at sunset, (in August at roughly 7.45pm) the time when Muslims break their fast, the streets of Karachi are deserted. By venturing into the street and performing everyday tasks in public, Abidi’s non-Muslim subjects reclaim a time and a place where their status as equal citizens in metropolitan Karachi is not contested.

Bani Abidi’s videos, photographic works and drawings use elements of performance and orchestration to explore the processes of political history, popular imagination and identity formation. Abidi was born in Karachi in 1971, and currently lives between New Delhi and Karachi. She received her BFA degree
from Lahore’s National College of Arts (NCA) in 1994 and an MFA from the School
of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1999. Her work is in the collections of the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Japan; Devi Art Foundation, New Delhi; Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin; the Marguelies Collection, Miami and MoMA, New York.


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