For over thirty years, Zarina Bhimji’s work has staged enquiry into image, object, sound and language, searching for the universal in both its literal and abstract manifestations. This major survey organised by Sharjah Art Foundation presents a number of the artist’s seminal works across film, photography and installation. The exhibition features the artist’s early exploration into forms of knowledge overlooked by established systems of order as well as her later exploration of architecture and landscape as arbiters of complex experience and emotion. Each project, embarked upon after meticulous research and recce trips spanning weeks at a time, sees Bhimji sympathetically inhabit sites via her practice: every location becomes an open-air studio, cleared of political or historic specificity.
Growing from ambiguity and observation, her work draws on a deep—and, at times, bleak—consciousness of specific moments. In her film works Out of Blue (2002), Yellow Patch (2011) and Jangbar (2015), constituting a central axis of this exhibition, she uses the camera as a subjective, painterly tool. Unfurling across multiple views and lands (Uganda, the United Kingdom, India, Zanzibar and Kenya, among others), the images ask how we can understand ourselves at different points in time. Most importantly, they question how we take up and rethink our own time—or time beyond our direct experience
Whether in immersive single-screen films or installations, Bhimji’s work spatialises attitudes, gestures and movements. Allowing sentiment to stand on its own merit, her work confronts our reliance on written narrative instead, using light, shadow, colour and texture to recall the significance of intuition and cultural inheritance. In slow pans across lush forested landscape, lingering shots of emptied architecture, or stamps and seals on official documents, her compositions of image and object come together to create a cacophony of sound and motion that shape and reshape our understanding of the present moment with quiet immediacy.
This exhibition is curated by Hoor Al Qasimi, Director of Sharjah Art Foundation.