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Hamra Abbas: Wall Hanging I
NOVEMBER 2013-APRIL 2014 | NEW WING FAÇADE
Hamra Abbas’s art installation on the front of the Gardner Museum shows the spectacular silk and gold curtain (kiswa) that covers the door of the Kaaba in Mecca, Islam’s holiest and most venerated site. The artist was inspired by a small plaster cast of this object displayed in her mother’s house in Lahore, Pakistan. Creating a version of this quintessential Islamic image for her adopted city of Boston, the artist seeks to diffuse the prevailing tension between East and West by bringing visitors in contact with the unfamiliar through visual art.
"Last summer," Abbas says, "I found this cheap plaster imitation of the Kaaba door in my mother's house in Lahore. It was hanging askew with a sizable layer of dust, which is not surprising for my mom, where chaos takes another meaning all together. However, it made me take notice of similar happenings in other places, while visiting friends and family and during my interaction with people in public spaces, so eventually I started documenting them. For me these small imperfections reveal the human element that co-exists with the seemingly monolithic ideals of truth and perfection."
Abbas is the third artist invited to create site-specific work for the Gardner façade. The space is devoted to new work by Gardner Museum Artists-in-Residence and changes about every six months. Abbas came to the Gardner as an Artist-in-Residence in 2011.
Hamra Abbas's residency at the Gardner Museum was supported in part by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. The Museum receives operating support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.
Image: Clements Photography, 2013.
Hamra Abbas is an artist with a multimedia practice ranging from painting to sculpture and photography. Born in Kuwait in 1976, Hamra Abbas lives and works in Boston, Massachusett and Lahore, Pakistan. She received degrees from the National College of Arts, Lahore and the Universität der Künste, Berlin and was awarded the 2011 Abraaj Capital Art Prize and a Jury prize at the Sharjah Biennial 9. She was an Artist-in-Residence at the Gardner Museum in 2011.
Her work has been presented in solo and group exhibitions including MAK (Vienna); Singapore Art Museum (Singapore); Royal Ontario Museum (Toronto); Victoria &Albert Museum (London); Asia Society Museum (New York); ARTIUM de Álava (Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain); Manchester Art Gallery (England); and REDCAT (Los Angeles). Currently she is being featured at the 2013 deCordova Biennial in Lincoln, Massachusetts.