Pakistani artist Bani Abidi explores the power politics in the process of waiting in her new video art The Distance From Here, which is being shown at Project 88, a Colaba art gallery.
This is her first solo show in the city.
“I’m interested in the idea of people being made to wait,” says Abidi. “In sarkari daftars for instance, you are always made to wait. That’s a subtle form of power that people in higher places use.”
People too turn willing subjects in the process, Abidi discovered.
“We drew straight yellow lines in the parking lot where we shot and I found that something as simple and two-dimensional as lines can also be used to organise, control and categorise people, and everyone abides by them,” she said.
Abidi explores the vulnerability, restlessness and anxiety of visa applicants in her 12-minute long single channel video art.
The video depicts people waiting in lines as the sounds of officialdom — typewriters, thumping rubber stamps, electronic beeps of security checks, tinny-voiced announcements —surround them.
It took two months to produce and was shot at a parking lot and inside a waiting room.
Besides the video art, the show also has a collection of photographs.
“We’re all victim to this anxiety of waiting for a visa to be cleared, and to get through immigration counters at airports. This is a reflection of the insecurity of our times, which is what makes this exhibition extremely relevant,” said gallery owner, Sree Goswami.
One of the subcontinent's leading video artists, Abidi, 39, grew up in Karachi.
She divides her time between Karachi and New Delhi.
“Mumbai reminds me of Karachi, which is another very secular city,” she said.