Put myself back together again

More recently, the artist’s focus to explore the mysteries surrounding one’s own place in the world has taken a more universal tone. At the Longitude/Latitude exhibit in February he expanded on his earlier, more personal underlying themes through a merger with the political aspect of life. Charged with the spirit of the tumultuous times in Bangladesh, the interactive exhibit showcased a time-lapse looped video of the artist attempting to solve a Rubik’s cube on a teeming Dhaka street over the course of a single day set in a small bathroom, often the most contemplative of rooms. From there, the main room consisted of a projection of pictures of the artist’s face being stamped with numerous different, often discordant and provocative labels, while silently the same Rubik’s cube from the video lay discarded and broken on the floor. Close to the stamps which could be used by gallery patrons.

I found this to be a leap forward in the artist’s work, conjuring up a sense of the Sisyphean effort to figure oneself out while at the same time being under external pressure to label oneself in society. Perhaps it’s much easier to buy into the labels set by society, but it also is not truth. More subtly, could you have solved the puzzle? What is more satisfying, capitulation to the external, external validation, expectation, and control or the quest itself? Strangely, I found the mental image of the tower of Babylon intrude on me as I left the exhibit, perhaps the cruder Rubik’s cube is tempting in the knowledge that it is indeed solvable, there is no guarantee with a person. It raises the question that perhaps knowing oneself fully, building that tower, solving the cube, can be accomplished. But in the end wouldn’t knowing oneself fully also be a label, to abide by constructs and thus also end the journey?

Nick Conrad

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