Hamburger Bahnhof -
Museum for Contemporary Art - Berlin
Mon-Fri 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Sat 11 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Sun 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.
* 1963 Mbarara, Uganda. Lives in London, United Kingdom.
See the biography
35mm film transferred to HD,
Dolby 5.1 sound, 7:45 min
>> see the film
On the website of the artist
A photographer and filmmaker, Zarina Bhimji uses poetic imagery to explore history and memory especially of post-colonial Africa and Europe. For her film installation Waiting (2007) she studied the facts of this portion of colonial history at length. Although invisible in her film, it still accompanies it like a melodic theme. Zarina Bhimji visited and filmed sisal-processing factories near Mombassa, Kenya, some of which originate from colonial times. The beauty of the architecture, the bright, hot light and the simultaneously quasi-paralyzing atmosphere together with the minute movements and the sensitive details of the colors, the walls and the utensils focus the viewer's gaze on the beauty of the material. Introduced by the Germans to the German colonies in East Africa in the 1890s and still grown on the plantations today, the material is used for ropes, sords, sacks, and carpets.
The artist's pictures and her sounds address the viewer in a highly emotional manner. In precise and yet unfathomably beautiful images, Bhimji shows the catastrophic production conditions that exist even today. The beauty of the colors and the sisal's texture conjure up memories of hair, lending life to the material that takes on an abstract quality. The senses are captured as in a still life wherein people are absent and only sisal, light and objects make up the film.
The power of Zarina Bhimji's works is based on their sensuous and seductive imagery, inseparably tied to the tragic and melancholic sadness and burdened by history. The rhythm of the machines is perpetually mixed with the independently created and yet central element of the soundtrack and results in intense tales that unfold intertwined incidences. The latter are the artist's vehicle to penetrate the shadow realm of the "invisible," the field where, for decades, Africa and Europe have determined and still do mutually determine their respective identities.