Review by Amrita Varma
January 15, 2014


Lace of Stars
A solo show by Fariba S Alam
December 13, 2013-January 11, 2014
Shrine Empire Gallery, New Delhi

The works in this show titled ‘ Lace of Stars’ have an analogy, which touches upon the allegory of the Quranic legend of Mohammed’s travels from Mecca to Jerusalem where Fariba Alam opens the visual out to a feeling of fantasy and mysticism in context to the female body and its ambivalence. This mystical path is part of Metamorphosis one finds in the personal comment by the artist.

Each work is a journey- a transition and via the bold and interesting use of the geometric patterns Fariba comes closer to the calling of life for a woman living in a contemporary world forbidden to show or accentuate her own identity as a woman. There are unheard voices that are held back. They seep through and pour out in other ways. The result is tear like handkerchiefs shifting with the winds in her installation of ‘ a million goodbyes’.

There are images that are mystical and have acertain lightheadedness to it as one explores the skies and the patterns. Then there is the heaviness of the figures orin the visual composition itself. The Buraq here is a reminiscence of the fear of using and expressing transcendental thought but by avoiding the use of the body of the same angelic figure which gives it that value- just the head with the body of a winged horse.The right to wholeness is almost snatched away and is lingering.The comment is powerful yet subtle.

One finds the more subdued yet intimate portrait like conversations between the stoic women in the early picture gazing at you on a thought lingering like a cloud in the pattern seeping in through the left of the image. The characters are seated in the almost regimental poised postures mandatory for women in that era in the framed composition of the photograph, which gets one thinking on the various aspects of womanhood and the stifling of the natural voice.

The images like as one can see in the work ‘ Lacuna’ hold a vaccum, a void needing to be made whole in the journey and reaching for it.

The most powerful work in the entire exhibition is the video and sculptural installation bare branches. It is one of the more mature and dynamic works I’ve seen in exhibitions in a long time.

The subtle nuances of each semantic context have been worked upon very thoughtfully by the artist. There are the intended ragged edges of the masculine in voice and the feminine flow of form. Both a sense of lightness and eeriness exist within the visual.


There is also a journey in which one is invited to explore both the human form and the mystic natural image sequences. It feels like the internal life and external environs merge and engage in a way where one is carried in the flow. It becomes difficult to distinguish between the two as the intertwining of contradictions and various comments take place in this journey. An interesting combination of timed video projections, light and visual images brings you into the artists subconscious in a very alluring manner. The work brings together the threads of the exhibition. The artist has surpassed herself with this particular work is a must to experience for anyone seriously looking at contemporary art at this point of time.