Yesterday I visited the Baltic – Center for the Contemporary Arts in Newcastle for the first time and was amazed at how beautiful the space was. I had read up on the two main artists who were currently showing there prior to my visit, Andrea Zittel and Elizabeth Price but it was neither of these artist whose work I enjoyed the most, it was the work of Pakistani artist Bani Abidi. This was Abidi’s first UK solo public exhibition in which she presented several pieces such as Section Yellow, The Distance from Here along with several photographs, not only did I enjoy her work whilst viewing it first hand, it also left a lasting impression as I contemplated over it on the 2 hour train journey back to Manchester. Not satisfied with what I saw in the gallery I began searching the internet for other pieces of work which she had made.
The picture above is a film still from a film which Abidi made in 1999 titled ‘Mangoes’. “Two expatriate Pakistani and Indian women sit and eat mangoes together and reminisce about their childhood. An otherwise touching encounter turns sour when they start comparing the range of mangoes grown in either country, a comment on the heightened sense of nostalgia and nationalism that exists in the Indian and Pakistani Diaspora. Both the women are played by the artist, stressing the idea of a shared history.” (http://www.baniabidi.com) Generally, I don’t tend to like political art but I found myself smiling at the description behind this piece, for such a huge subject the simple metaphor surprisingly works just perfect.