Zarina Bhimji: Flagging it up


British artist Zarina Bhimji makes photographs, films and installations which engage with themes such as institutional power and subjectivity. Her work grows from observation and felt sense and is rooted in a careful use of colour and light. Embracing slippages and ambiguities, it is evocative rather than descriptive or documentary in its pace, setting and mood.

The exhibition spaned Bhimji’s career. It began with She Loved to Breathe – Pure Silence (1987), a photo-text installation exploring politics, voice, beauty and love as forms of resistance. This was joined by a new film, Blind Spot (2023). Shot in London in 2023, it engages with ideas of home. Also included in the exhibition was Bhimji’s first film, Out of Blue (2002), an allusive exploration of the extermination and erasure of particular groups by a state; and Waiting (2007), an atmospheric wander around a stilled factory that processed sisal into twine.

Bhimji is motivated by art’s ability to re-make experience in the mind of the viewer: ‘if I can’t make an object that describes a dusty room so someone else understands what it feels like to be in that room, then I’ve failed’. She wants to move people, and to tap into a way of thinking that is not embedded in words.

Her art communicates with the urgency that comes from working something out for yourself, rather than having been told what and how to think. Yet beauty is her principal method: ‘when you create something beautiful, you’re taking charge’.

Images: © Zarina Bhimji. All Rights Reserved, DACS/Artimage 2023.


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Images: Ruth Clark


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