Landscapes and buildings haunted by their layered histories are the protagonists in British artist Zarina Bhimji’s photographs and large-scale film installations. India and East Africa are the repeat locations for her poetic foray into the archaeology of place.
This first major survey exhibition traces 25 years of Bhimji’s work. It opens with the premiere of her long-awaited film, Yellow Patch (2011), inspired by trade and migration across the Indian Ocean. Desolate yet beautiful close-up images of abandoned Haveli palaces and colonial offices in Mumbai harbour give way to atmospheric renditions of the desert and the sea, all accompanied by an evocative soundtrack. Yellow Patch complements the renowned film Out of Blue (2002), an arresting visual journey across Uganda, its elegiac terrain disturbed by the sound of fire, birds and human voices.
Zarina Bhimji was born in Mbarara, Uganda in 1963 to Indian parents, and moved to Britain in 1974, two years after the expulsion of Uganda’s Asian community in the Idi Amin era. She was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2007.
Rarely seen earlier works are presented alongside these ambitious film narratives. Combining black-and-white photographs with colourful spices, She Loved to Breathe- Pure Silence (1987), comments on controversial immigration protocols in Britain during the 1970s, while photographs taken in the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Gamble Room and its galleries of Indian art in 1989 pay a tender tribute to this treasure trove of late nineteenth-century Britain.
Lightboxes and large format photographs from Cleaning the Garden (1998), first commissioned for Harewood House, Leeds, and the Love Series (2001–06), panoramic photographs rooted in the research for Out of Blue (2002) are also on view.
Zarina Bhimji is organised in collaboration with Kunstmuseum Bern.
Yellow Patch (2011) simultaneously premieres at The New Art Gallery Walsall.