BAF presents Land & Marks by interdisciplinary artist Minahil Bukhari. The exhibition features a suite of new sculptural works made from developed mixtures of paper pulp and earth pigments. Bukhari’s practice forms throughlines between the material footings of her longstanding research topics, including archive, language, interior spaces and architecture. Often incorporating investigations into her own patrilineal archival documents, her work explores concepts of displacement, trauma, loss and systematic infractions through the lens of political minimalism.
In Land & Marks, the curvatures of writing systems have influenced ornate formations created through drawing and building with paper. Their organic yet grid-like patterns and motifs convey the artist’s sense of duality towards history and heritage—it is supportive and confining, it can embrace or exclude, reinforce or alienate. As wall works, the pulp formations are remindful of loose floor plans or architectural drawings, seeming to represent past, present or future spaces, real or imagined. These in turn curve inward to fashion sculptural pillars that stand central in the gallery. The drawings themselves have shifted to create material structures, conflating distinctions between tangible and theoretical forms.
The works are in dialogue with the gallery architecture, their rough textures and muted hues vibrating between its smooth, stark walls and imperfect concrete floors. Shaped lines feather out near the top of each sculpture, bringing associations of ruin or overgrowth. The pillars are at once commanding and discernably fragile. Bukhari often engages liminality, emphasizing tensions that exist in between two states—between collective and individual, memory and history, ambiguity and certainty.
Land & Marks can be thought of as a tactile continuation of Bukhari’s recent negotiations with history and heritage—projects such as the installation I am her, She is me (2019) that address the fact that women of her family have never been recorded in any lineage documents prior to her generation. The paper pulp sculptures are less direct in their messaging, evoking a sense of language but intentionally illegible. Still, materially they communicate a consistent methodology—a tearing down, or reconstitution of old worlds in order to build anew.