BANI ABIDI

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The Speech Writer 10 Flipbooks in a box case , 28 x 24 x 3 cms

The Speech Writer, 2011
Publisher: Raking Leaves

The Speech Writer is a fictional video documentary presented in the form of ten flip books. The contents follow a day in the life of a retired political speech writer. Retired from a lifetime of public service work, his connection with the outside world takes the form of a daily broadcast from the comfort of his home. We cannot hear him speak but witness instead a moment of ultimate freedom in the life of a man who formulated the rhetoric, visions, dreams and declarations of others. Passersby, now accustomed to the perplexing array of loudspeakers wired to the outside of his house, stop to listen for a few moments each day.

Available online: Amazon, RAM Publications, Idea Books and CMYK Bookstore, Delhi.

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>>Video

Untitled - Inkjet Prints, 111.76 x 76.2 cms

Section Yellow, 2010

The video and photographic works in 'Section Yellow' are about people who are going elsewhere. An anatomy of preparation, anxiety and anticipation is built up through multiple frames, narratives and gestures.

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Bani Abidi - Karachi SeriesDuratrans Lightboxes, 20 x 30 inches, 50.8 x 76.2 cms

'Karachi' Series -1 , 2009

A sideways glance at a growing manifestation of ethnic, religious and cultural homogeneity in an erstwhile cosmopolitan space. The photographs in 'Karachi - Series 1' hypothesize a silent moment when the original denizens of the city step out of their homes to lay claim to a space that is also theirs. Shot at dusk during the month of Ramadan, when most Muslims of the city are breaking their fasts with their evening meal, the artist contemplates the vast emptiness of the city streets and imagines them to be inhabited differently.

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Inkjet Prints, 11 x 17 inches, 28 x 44 cms

Intercommunication Devices , 2008

Intercommunication Devices on 13th Street, Defence Housing Authority, Karachi

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Bani Abidi, Security Barrier
Inkjet Prints, 11 x 17 inches, 28 x 44 cms

Security Barriers A-L , 2008

A design survey of security barriers on the streets of Karachi, Pakistan

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Bani Abidi, Address
Diasec C Print, 30 x 40 inches, 76 x 101 cms
Inkjet Prints, 11 x 17 inches, 28 x 44 cms

The Address , 2007

In the tradition of trompe loiel paintings used as backdrops in Portrait studios, the artist commissioned a background painting resembling the set used for televised presidential speeches. The image of this vacant set was then displayed on TV sets in various public spaces in Lahore.
The photographs, while attempting to examine a significant image, leave the viewers (both within and outside the photographs) caught in a before, after or perpetual moment by leaving the seat empty. The work hopes to raise questions about the relationship between civil society and the ever changing face of political power in Pakistan.

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Bani Abidi, RESERVED
Video, Double Channel, 9:00 mins

RESERVED , 2006

The city has come to halt. A state dignitary is about to arrive. Traffic is blocked to make way for the unhampered movement of four luxury vehicles. School children with crumpled paper flags in hand wait patiently to wave at the passing motorcade. An anxious reception committee of officious bureaucrats paces up and down a red carpet.This video was commissioned by the Singapore National Arts Council for the Singapore Biennale 2006.

>>Video Stills & Production Shots
>>Video Extract

Bani Abidi, the Ghost of Mohammad Bin Qasim
Photo and Video Works in 3 Segments

The Boy Who Got Tired of Posing, 2006

A series of fictional photo and video narratives. At the center of each appears the symbol of Mohammad Bin Qasim, as a recurring mythological figure. Playing with the very idea of concocted history, each story lies somewhere between truth and fiction.

>> To be uploaded

Bani Abidi, Shan Pipe Band
Video, Double Channel, 7:30 sec

Shan Pipe Band Learns the Star Spangled Banner, 2004

In November of 2003, the artist commissioned a brass pipe band in Lahore to learn how to play the American National Anthem, a piece that was not a part of their existing repertoire. Over an afternoon's sitting of listening to a recording of the music that had been provided them, and after much fumbling and practicing they were able to perform a version of it. The video is a recording of this process as well as a glimpse of their interaction and physical surroundings.
This piece is a metaphor for all forms of clumsy and forced cultural and political acquiescence that various individuals and governments have had to display towards the US in the past 3 years.The Scottish Pipe Band is a colonial legacy that still exists in Pakistan. Now, unattached to the military these band musicians play Indian music tunes at weddings.

>>Video Stills
>>Video Extract

Bani Abidi, So he Starts Singing
Video, Single Channel, 3:30 sec

...so he starts singing, 2000

A single narrative constructed from 26 stories. Manisha Sharma, an Indian film buff was asked by the artist to narrate the plots of 26 different Indian films (circa 1975-2001). What ensued was an hour of footage, from which the artist extracted cycles and patterns of the stereotypical Bollywood story and created an absurd, unending narrative that is presented in a constant loop.

>>Video Stills

Bani Abidi, News
Video, Single Channel, 4:24 sec

The News, 2001

A 2 channel video installation, 'The News' is a mock news program being broadcast on either side of the Indo/ Pak border. Presented on 2 monitor screens, a Pakistani and an Indian news presenter relate separate versions of the same news event. The script is an adaptation from a common joke about an Indian and a Pakistani. Adapted to sound like a news event, the joke is a banal slapstick display of superiority. The language used in the video is the Sanskritised Hindi of official Indian jargon and the Persianised Urdu of the Pakistani state, a comment on the state's exclusivist policies of altering language in its effort to construct a separate identity.

>>Video Stills

Bani Abidi, Anthems
Video, Single Channel, 2:25 sec

Anthems, 2000

Addressing the role of music in the creation of patriotic sentiment, the video 'Anthems' shows a split screen image of two young women (played by the artist) dancing to popular Indian and Pakistani songs. Their activity is private, and seemingly they are unaware of each other. But infact they are not, insofar as they are sharing space on the TV monitor. Each of them keeps on turning up the volume on their stereos in an effort to outdo the other. The video ends in a cacophony of sound, where neither of the music tracks can be heard clearly.

>>Video Stills

Bani Abidi, Mangoes
Video, Single Channel, 3:24 sec

Mangoes, 1999

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.

>>Video Stills