“The heterotopia is capable of juxtaposing in a single real place several spaces, several sites that are in themselves incompatible.”
– Michel Foucault: Of Other Spaces, Heterotopias (1967)
As part of Gallery Weekend Berlin 2014, PSM presents the exhibition Mon jardin est un tapis by artist Nadira Husain (born 1980 in Paris. Lives and works in Paris and Berlin). In her second solo exhibition at PSM the Indian-French artist creates an environment, which is determined not only by sculptural elements but also ephemeral ground paintings with Indian powder paint. The exhibition attempts to transform the two-dimensional imagery of Husain into three-dimensionality and to expand her pictorial practice to a social dimension.
As in her works on canvas, Husain combines her confrontation with Indian imagery, Western pop culture and her living environment in her exhibition Mon jardin est un tapis:
Positioned throughout the whole gallery floor, the pink marbled sculptures from Styrofoam, take reference to the representation of stones in 16th century Islamic Mughal miniatures.
In contrast to those forms, the organic forms of the ground paintings at first glance remind one of the aesthetics of Western comics. At closer inspection, the outlines of crawling infants are seen on the floor next to the representations of oversized (painter) tools. The motives humorously refer to the usual use of the floor as an everyday mundane object and at the same time to the artist”s own reality as a (female) painter and associated stereotypes to it.
The floor ornamentation is created with Indian powder paint using the painting technique known as Rangoli. These paintings, made from different colored everyday materials, are widespread in India and scattered at the outside entrance of houses. While Rangoli traditionally serves as a metaphor for the transience of life and happiness, in the exhibition context, its ephemeral character gains a dimension of institutional critique: the exhibited floor pieces exist only for the duration of the exhibition. They are not preservable or for sale in this state since they are being destroyed already in the course of the exhibition by wandering viewers.
The granted emancipation to the viewer, who can freely move in the room and through the work and therefore kinesthetically experience the picturesque environment, goes insofar hand in hand with a social dimension of responsibility, as the consumption of the artwork at the same time leads to its destruction.
The wallpaper with patterns of the bricks from the ceiling of the gallery’s can also be perceived as a gesture of institutional critique. The neutrality of the White Cube is broken by a reference to the architectural – and with it also the historical – framework of the exhibition space. Paradoxically, this deconstruction is used for a wide sprawling illusionism, in the process of which the gallery space is the image carrier of an expanded concept of painting, which brings together disparate physical and cultural spaces: Eastern and Western pictorial tradition, high and pop culture, definitions of art and craft are combined and questioned.
Nadira Husain’s work has been exhibited internationally in various solo and group exhibitions, among them KW – Institute for Contemporary Art (Berlin), Sammlung Falckenberg (Hamburg), Tempo Rubato (Tel Aviv), Tobias Nähring (Leipzig). Beside her show at PSM, Husain will be represented in a solo exhibition at Künstlerhaus Bremen this year.