XVA Gallery: Simeen Farhat: Words Chimes; Meaning in Movements

XVA Gallery in Dubai, UAE, has announced Words Chimes; Meaning in Movements, the upcoming solo show of Pakistani-born Simeen Farhat, who describes her work as a record of her own evolution, in that art is synonymous with life.

The abstract forms created out of dyed cast resin have their roots in literature; the texts used by Farhat in her work are poems written in Urdu, Farsi, Arabic, German and English. Personal writings and concerns have a place alongside writings of worldwide importance.

Professor and writer, Dr Brett Bourbon, who holds a Ph. D in English Literature from Harvard University and has taught and given lectures at many prestigious universities: Stanford and Carnegie Mellon, to name a few, has written a statement about Simeen’s work.

An Alchemy of Form

I see alchemy in these sculptures. Forms and possibilities precipitating out of our lives with words. These word sculptures attempt to return us to an alchemy of form out of the chemistry of language.

If we imagine that words are atoms and phrases molecules, then a sentence becomes a solution of atoms and molecules that we can absorb into sense. The sculptures in this show seem made of the atoms of words and the molecules of phrases, but they do not make sentences. We cannot absorb them into immediate sense. They make objects the senses of which we have to find for ourselves. These senses, however, can be hard to find.

Our half-recognitions and failures of recognition throw our eyes out of sense. I often have to struggle to identify the particular words in these sculptures. The forms of words are distorted into cursive ambiguity that takes them into the borderlands between language and shape. My eyes go out of sense, and yet I see what feels like a portency, a possibility of something like sense.

But is that portency a mere promise or an actual alchemy of transmutation? Is there a greater sense here or mere figures in word-clouds with which we can entertain ourselves on some summer’s day? Are these sculptures just broken heaps of seeming words?

If this art is an alchemy, it is an alchemy in which we confess ourselves in our strivings towards making sense or in our failing to make sense. Art provokes. The measure of modern art lies in the questions it provokes. These sculptures provoke and seduce, promise and disrupt our recognitions and intimacy with the means by which we articulate much of our world—our language. These sculptures show us as both near to and far from language, and also as near to and far from ourselves.

Like alchemy, art not only promises transformations of lead into gold, of confusion into clarity, but of ourselves from lost to found, from crow to phoenix.

Brett Bourbon, 2016




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