Review: Huma Bhabha's 'Against Time'

Comment sub-editor Tom Leach takes a look at one of the BALTIC's recent exhibitions: Huma Bhabha's 'Against Time'.

Tom Leach
21st October 2020

Entering the exhibition, it's unclear what exactly you've walked into; an art gallery, a museum for a forgotten culture, a holding facility for extra-dimensional or supernatural artefacts.

Huma Bhabha is primarily a sculptor, whose works focus on the grotesque and the decrepit. Against Time is a survey of her work since 2005 centred around her styrofoam and cork figures, as well as 2D work.

Time and destruction runs through Bhabha's work. The statues, like the fetishes of a Lovecraftian cult, seem to be in the process of decay.

The Reconstructions series of photogravures superimpose the construction of giant monuments over the outskirts of Karachi. Disembodied feet are a regular motif also, supposedly inspired by a film scene where a man's body is blown up, leaving only shoes and ankles. Shelley's Ozymandia's comes to mind throughout.

Bhabha plays with materials in way that makes the origin of her figures even more uncertain. She uses flimsy styrofoam, earthy cork, and cast metal, and then uses painting and carving to disguise them all as each other; The Joke appears at first glance to be a piece of styrofoam packing spray painted with a grotesque grin, but is in fact lacquered bronze. Bhahba makes sure we're never completely sure what we're seeing.

Featured Image: The BALTIC

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AUTHOR: Tom Leach
Spanish and German student. Interested in cultural studies and left-wing politics globally. Twitter: @tleachleach

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