coming out @ bmag


6 december 2017

page 3

Steve McQueen: Bear (1993)

Steve McQueen: Bear (1993)

Bear was in it’s own large box. You had to walk through literal blackness to enter it. I was scared.


But then I finally stepped inside, expecting the monotony to end. Perhaps it was the most colourful darkness I had ever surrounded myself in. 


My experience of it started with a smile. Then a caress. Then a stroke. Then an embrace. Then a push. A pull. Teeth. Sweat. Silence. 


As I watched it, I couldn’t recall a time where I’d felt that much positivity in aggression.


The two bodies fought against one another so much in delicate aggression that they began to melt into one another. All that stood out was white teeth and white eyeballs. What we use to speak and be heard, to see and be seen - co-existing with silence yet louder than ever before. 


Everything about this was truly beautiful - the form, the composition, the visual, the subject. It felt like one of those rare moments where a space grants you work that you've been begging for all the time. My entire lifetime has passed and I can't think of anything else that explores Bear'sthemes as similarly and/or effectively than this.


You can dissect Bear (1993) in ways that is relatable to so many lived experiences - ones that don't necessarily have to be lived simultaneously but still maintains depth.  Aggression vs. effeminacy. The label of aggression through mere association with blackness. Gay, black, aggressive, effeminate. Fear, feared, fearful. 

Bear (1993) is a timeless algorithm of suppression through an ethnic lens.

Chila Kumari Burman: A Moment to Herself (2002) 

Chila Kumari Burman: A Moment to Herself (2002) 

I was secretly searching for Chila everywhere, and I made a point of going nowhere near that sari-similar, multi-coloured flower collage work I saw resting on white. I scoured the space three times to find Chila, each time pretending I couldn’t see the fluorescence. In the end, I had to have it confirmed.


I’ve had quite enough of the dexterities of the brown experience being exoticised to the point of my own desired cremation. When will work by a LGBT+ South Asian artist not remind me of the rainbow flag which until only now (sometimes) includes black and brown stripes? I wish we talked more about how we're in fact outside of this rainbow-bubble, and how whiteness acts as though if we enter it will pop.


I did appreciate, though, that A Moment to Herself(2002) managed to feel reflective of the decade in which it was made through the tackiness of colour and at the same time quite timelessly of every-day-India. I like that it took me until this actual moment to spot a naughty sequin-pink bra in the midst of the naturality of effervescent flowers which ultimately make the work so now andthen. These flowers are quite clearly the backgrounds for Indian good morning WhatsApp msgs, or are they photographic evidence of that wedding back in '02, or are they just presents from my aunts in Pakistan? Idk. 

Despite this, my annoyance still stands. Stop inviting me in with a rangoli pattern when I’ve already been here all this time.