Bloomberg Connects
Painful Arc II (Shoulder-High)
Baseera Khan’s practice uses the lens of their own body to investigate how desire and surveillance shape subjectivity, including the construction of the artist’s own gender and Muslim identity. Khan assembles references from ancient Middle Eastern cultures found in museums and archaeological archives, abstracting architectural scale and humanizing ostensibly objective collections of art and artifacts. Khan’s large-scale installations are inviting – often incorporating sumptuous colors and radical adornments – and encourage viewers to think about challenging topics such as xenophobia, spirituality, and invisible labor. For the High Line, Khan installs a monumental archway made of inscribed tablets under The Standard, High Line. To create Painful Arc II (Shoulder-High), Khan interviewed High Line staff members and photographed the numerous shipping boxes of supplies that circulate within the complex ecosystem of the park. Khan’s inscriptions on the archway include packaging labels and handwritten notes jotted down by staff members onto incoming cardboard boxes. Perforating the sculpture are patterns referencing punctuation symbols from the Quran, drawn with motifs inspired by the park’s flora and fauna. The archway is made from recycled granite and a man-made stone-like composite commonly used for countertops in home kitchens. In their material choices, Khan points to the circulation of materials in the park, and to the unseen domestic labor largely performed by women. Khan’s reimagined public monument paints a portrait of the park and the people who maintain it every day, as well as the people far away who manufacture the goods shipped to our door. While historically archways have been inscribed with the names and symbols of nobles and leaders, this archway is a monument to the ecosystem of labor and people around the world who make the High Line possible. Artist bio Baseera Khan (b. Texas) lives and works in Queens, New York. Selected solo and two-person exhibitions have been presented at Georgetown University, Washington D.C. (2023); Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, Ohio (2022); Moody Center For The Arts, Houston, Texas (2022); Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, New York (2021); Colorado Springs Fine Arts Centers, Colorado Springs, Colorado (2018); and Participant Inc., New York, New York (2017). Khan has participated in select group exhibitions at the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio (2021); NOMA, New Orleans, Louisiana (2020); The Kitchen, New York, New York (2018); SculptureCenter, Queens, New York (2018); and Aspen Art Museum, Colorado (2018). Baseera Khan’s work is featured of the public collections of the Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio; The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Support Lead support for High Line Art comes from Amanda and Don Mullen. Major support is provided by Shelley Fox Aarons and Philip E. Aarons, The Brown Foundation, Inc., and Charina Endowment Fund. Additional support is provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. High Line Art is supported, in part, with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature, and from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York City Council, under the leadership of Speaker Adrienne Adams, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Baseera Khan, Painful Arc II (Shoulder High), is supported, in part, by Douglass Residential College at Rutgers–New Brunswick and Simone Subal Gallery, and several private contributors.
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