Through her practice, Hamra Abbas takes a satirical and playful approach towards widely accepted traditions. By appropriating significant imagery and iconography, and transforming them into new works that may be experienced spatially and temporally, Hamra creates a new platform from which to view cultural and traditional phenomena.
In Please do not step, 2004, Hamra reveals the commonalities between different belief systems through translation of passages derived from two distinct religious texts, the Bible and the Qu'ran. Displayed on each panel is a framed miniature painting in two parts, one of a biblical scene and one of a qu'ranic scene, with Latin text and Arabic text overlaid respectively. The central space of the installation is covered by a pattern made up of woven papers stating 'Please do not step'. The restriction of the audiences movements alongside the manuscript translations hints at a sense of possessive cultural ownership of ethics found in the teachings of organised religion.
MoMA is the Star! 2004, is a short video of the last day of 'MoMA in Berlin: the art event of 2004' at the New National Gallery, Berlin. Here Hamra appropriates the logo and soundtrack used to market this American exported, major modern art event and presents it alongside her footage of the strategies used by those suffering the hours of queuing to defer their boredom.
Throughout the series of works Lessons on Love, Hamra lifts figures from Indian miniature paintings and transforms them into 3-dimensional sculptures. Isolating the figures from their context, she draws unmistakable attention to their combined act of love-making and hunting. The title of the series is the translation of 'Kama Sutra', the title of the illustrated book on sex and pleasure.
Hamra Abbas' residency was supported by the Ministry of Culture, Pakistan, and the Festival of Muslim Cultures, a UK-wide arts and education festival.
The residency is organised by Green Cardamom, an arts organization working with artists in early stages of their international careers. They work collaboratively with galleries and museums, bringing these artists' work to a global audience through exhibitions and publications. Their focus is on artists from South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. The organisation works on a not-for-profit basis. Hamra Abbas' residency was developed in collaboration with the V&A.
During her residency at Gasworks, Hamra Abbas conducted a photo and drawing montage workshop. Family members joined Abbas on a visit to the V&A museum and took part in discussions around the V&A collection of South Asian miniature paintings from the Mughal era.
22nd - 24th Sept 12-6pm
Anup Mathew Thomas, Krishna Luchoomun and Hamra Abbas host an open studio allowing visitors to view works in progress developed during their stay at Gasworks.
Hamra Abbas has been photographing hundreds of Londoners to re-create classic Mughal miniature paintings using contemporary figures. The initial photomontages from this project will be among the works in progress on display.
Beyond the Page - Contempoary Art From Pakistan
Hamra Abbas' residency coincides with Beyond the Page, an exhibition curated by Hammad Nasar of Green Cardamom. The show will tour to Asia House, London, and Manchester Art Gallery, The Harley Gallery, Nottinghamshire, the Midlands Arts Centre, Birmingham, and Huddersfield Art Gallery. The exhibition at Asia House will take place between 31st August-11 November 2006.
For further information, please visit the Asia House website.