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Rashid Rana's work presented as part of 56th Venice Biennale presentation

Rashid Rana's work continues to inspire the community of art lovers across the world. The Transpositions (2013–15) series, for My East is Your West, which was exhibited last year, was recently presented again in South Africa by Johan Conradie in the 56th Venice Biennale Highlights presentation. Given below is an excerpt from the presentation:

My East is your West

The exhibition brought together two artistic forces from South Asia. Shilpa Gupta (Mumbai, India) and Rashid Rana (Lahore, Pakistan) joined forces in a historical first to jointly present artists from the Indian subcontinent on a shared platform at the 56th Venice Biennale. As neither India nor Pakistan has a permanent national pavilion in Venice, this presentation provided a unique platform for artists from South Asia to enter into a dialogue through the arts, representing the Indian subcontinent as one region.

Rashid Rana’s art is characterised by a love affair with the history of art, sharp wit and a high level of technical craftsmanship. He transposes imagery from one time and place to another, through manipulation, repetition and re-arrangement. His early photomontages were originally made by painstakingly reconfiguring tiny squares of imagery into ‘micro-mosaics’ by hand. Nowadays, he uses computer software programs in his work. In some of his previous works the artist superimposed hard-core pornography on to the silhouette of the burqa (Veil, 2004) and turned hundreds of graphic slaughterhouse snapshots into facsimiles of Persian rugs (Red Carpet, 2007).

In My Sight stands in the Way of Your Memory (2013-15) Rashid Rana creates an impossible image of immense beauty taking the image of Caravaggio’s painting Judith Beheading Holofernes (1598–99) as a starting point, and slowly reveals the thousands of pixel-like clips from films, daily life, CCTV footage and other sources contained within it. In the second part of the installation (Site-uations), a video plays on the opposite wall, which seemingly mirrors the first work in a constructed set in another location, thereby extending its existence beyond its material position (http://artradarjournal.com/2015/06/12/rashid-rana-shilpa-gupta-in-venice-interview/). Here, as elsewhere in the artist’s work, the juxtaposition of beauty and the macabre forces the viewer into an acknowledgement of the politics of the piece. A work that appears on one level to represent a notion of Baroque beauty is in fact based on a more troubling examination of the increasing detritus and decay of the city.

Meanwhile, Rana’s new, larger-than-life sculptural and video installations take his interest in playing with perception, space and scale to another level, by including the virtual and the interactive. His project Shuhuud-o-shaahid—mashhuud (2015) creates a virtual connection between Venice and a mirrored room in Lahore. Visitors to both spaces view and interact with each other blurring the boundary between the viewer and the viewed, and drawing a reflection of the ‘self’ in an image of the ‘other’.

When asked in an email correspondence with Johan Conradie (27/01/2016) about the artist’s preoccupation with intersections of ‘East’ and ‘West’, the artist stated:


One’s expression is a negotiation between the actual and the remote. The actual is close at hand – something one can experience directly with the body as the site of knowing. The remote, on the other hand is knowledge amassed indirectly, from diverse sources scattered across time and space. The result is a meditation on location, both in a physical as well as temporal sense."
- Rashid Rana, 2016.



Read more about My East is Your West

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