Maryam Jafri - Stages
Friday 3rd February 2012, 19.00, Wyspa Institute of Art
Exhibition on view:
Tuesday - Sunday, 12.00-18.00
Maryam Jafri is an artist working in video, performance and photography. Informed by a research based, interdisciplinary process her artworks are marked by a visual language poised between film and theater and a series of narrative experiments and oscillating between script and document, fragment and whole. Jafri's practice often starts from something that seems concrete whether that be an archive or a written text and then disrupts its established form. As Bridget Crone states in the work, "Staged Archive" (2008), for example, Jafri worked in relation to the National Archives of Ghana to create a film that questioned the archive's relationship to knowledge and 'truth' by staging the archive through a series of tableaux that referred to the visual and narrative codes of TV and cinema such as the court room drama, for example."1 Jafri´s approach to her source material is transformative rather than representational by entering in a process of what the artist calls "fictionalizing"2. "Death With Friends" (2010) takes the Baburnama, diary of Babur - the 16th Century founder of the Mughal Empire in India - as its starting point. The Baburnama represents the first known instance of autobiography in Islamic literature and indeed anywhere in the world. Journeying through what is now modern day Afghanistan, Pakistan and North India, Babur writes about his conquest of the region along with general observations on the everyday life of the inhabitants. The Baburnama forms a kind of textual impetus for Jafri´s work but at the same time it is present alongside numerous other visual codes and styles. The artist works in a collage-like process putting together multiple images by combining and recombining them. This working method creates different comments and references on past and present time, as it can be also seen in the video installation "Costume Party" (2005) that centers on 18 characters attending a costume party. They are dressed from definitive moments in Western history from antiquity to the present, including a crusader, a monk, a cowboy, a Victorian widow and an imperial British naval officer. The work presents on three screens (also spatially) a panorama through time and points out through constantly changing perspectives the subjectivity of history - one of the key elements in all three works by Jafri on view at Wyspa. The artist explores in her work the borders between fact and fiction, history and mythology by examining the desire to view the present as the product of an idealized past.
Maryam Jafri is an artist based in New York and Copenhagen. Her video work "Costume Party" (2005), Staged Archive (2008) and "Death with friends" (2010) will be presented in Wyspa in the exhibition "Stages". Maryam Jafri presented her video works "Running","Janus", "Father & Son" and Theatre as a part of Estrangement, an exhibition organized in Wyspa Institute of Art in the framework of Alternativa Festival 2011 curated by Aneta Szy?ak and Hiwa K. Recent exhibition is her first solo show in Poland.