In Conversation: Minahil Bukhari
“Land & Marks” by Minahil Bukhari featured a suite of new sculptural works made from developed mixtures of paper pulp and earth pigments, forming throughlines between the material footings of the artist’s longstanding research topics, including archive, language, interior spaces and architecture. Often incorporating investigations into her own patrilineal archival documents, Bukhari’s work explores concepts of displacement, trauma, loss and systematic infractions through the lens of political minimalism.
Read on to learn more about the makeup and material play of Bukhari’s recent works.
According to the exhibition text, Land & Marks continued your negotiations with history and heritage. Intentionally illegible, how do these architectural sculptures convey your thoughts and emotions? How do you stay connected with your traditions while also challenging them through these works?MB
Most of all my works offer a moment of pause, which enables reflection and reconfiguration. A pause to read the works deeply before drawing an affirmative conclusion. I hope to evoke a sense of spatial discovery that we have as children when we are learning about our surroundings, nature and culture. This moment of pause offers a chance to rethink how we relate to our history and heritage while finding easter eggs of familiarity.
Although the sculptures appear heavy to move, they are incredibly delicate and light. What is your process for creating them? Were they all made with an identical approach, or did you make material discoveries along the way?MB
The material exploration was intriguing through this residency. Often times paper pulp is used as a molding or casting material. I had never seen it being piped out of a bag, hence, I took up the challenge to see how paper pulp reacts to such manipulation. Since my work is about language, I wanted to see how I can write WITH paper instead of on it. I wanted to go large scale with my approach and I had to figure out a lot of things about its structural integrity. The medium is strong and fragile all at the same time. Longevity and structural integrity is something I am still exploring.
Looking at your previous exhibitions, such as After Aftermath, paper has been a significant component of your practice. What draws you to paper? What does it represent for you?MB
Paper is a simple and accessible medium. I call it a humble medium, which facilitates other expressions without domination. I am interested in giving it autonomy and centre stage, devoiding it of its widely understood function while still owning its materiality. I guess there is something metaphoric about this sentiment that I connect with. I am also interested in seeing if I can create a unique configuration, of object and space, with a mundane everyday material.
The exhibition used paper pulp, earth pigments, and natural dye. Could you tell me about your colour choices? Is there a connection between these muted colours and your history and heritage?MB
I have always gravitated more towards muted earthy tones except for the vibrant Lapiz Lazuli blue, which is one of my favourite pigments of all time. The Earth/soil literally has beautiful hues and palettes that I gravitate towards and mixing vibrant pigments with paper pulp naturally created a muted colour palette that I love.
What is next for you? Are you planning to continue making work with the paper pulp techniques you developed at BAF?MB
I have an exciting group show coming up at Burnaby Art Gallery this fall. I am also working on a few collaborations and some self initiated projects.
Minahil Bukhari’s exhibition, titled “Land & Marks,” was on view at BAF from January 12 to March 18, 2023.