Selected works by Huma Mulji

Huma Mulji
Arabian Delight (and details)

2008

Rexine suitcase, taxidermy camel, metal rods, wood, cotton wool, fabric

105 x 144 x 155 cm (Open with lid)

Pakistani born Huma Mulji’s works explore ideas of displacement. Her preoccupation with cultural difference takes her away from India and Pakistan toward the Middle East and other landscapes. This juncture between tradition and the relentless modern thrust across India and Pakistan is where Mulji occupies herself with deliberate humour. Arabian Delight, a taxidermied camel forced into a battered suitcase, addresses ideas of the relocation of cultures. The rather crazed manner in which the collapsed camel is impossibly forced into this suitcase, legs thrown in disarray, is a humorous comment on the perceived ‘Arabisation’ of Pakistan as another Muslim state.

Huma Mulji
Her Suburban Dream (and 2 details)

2009

Mixed media

99 x 330.2 x 76.2

In a similar vein, Mulji’s most recent work titled Her Suburban Dream involves another taxidermied animal shown in an unexpected situation. The concrete water pipe has forced the cow in Her Suburban Dream into an unnatural and somewhat degrading position at the mercy of humanity. These compelling works explore change and disorder in the region and beyond.


Articles

HUMA MULJI
Jan, 2010, Platform Creative Lifestyle

How Would you Introduce yourself as an artist?
As a Sculptor, even if it is an outdated description. I think sculptor-ally. I love objects and I enjoy ways of ‘making’.

What are the influences, subjects and thought processes that govern your artwork?
The flaneur is traditionally (as Baudelaire describes, in its cultural and literary significance) the idle wanderer, the ‘intellectual parasite of the arcade’. I like to think that this idea in and of itself requires a relatively stable and secure environment. Urban environments we live in today do not offer that and fofr me driving around the city, which is never at a significant speed, allows the wandering of the mind, the visual feasting and consuming of the city, without literally thinking about it.
This is an exact contemporary equivalent of the flaneur. These wanderings are my raw material. With this and a million other thoughts made available through information, research, material exploration, conversation and play, something is created. Sometimes this is art. Most times it is not.

In your opinion what purpose does your art serve and what is it you try and communicate through it?
It would be arrogant to think it can make a difference. It’s difficult to say what it does- be it a joke or a story. Does anything make a difference? Everything makes a little bit of a difference. Each film makes a difference. Each book makes a difference. But so does each conversation. Art is no better or worse. It is an attempt to share or give visible life to something you are engaged with. I think it is about belief.

Source: humamulji.com


MIRROR MIRROR
May 23rd, 2010, by Maha malik, The Express Tribune

In recent years, Huma Mulji has been most widely acclaimed for her startling taxidermy sculptures.
Her practice is marked by the use of low-grade technologies and a visual idiom derived from her lived experience of the region. One may recall her 2009 study of urban environments, titled Heavenly Heights. Here, Punjab’s iconic water buffalo was raised to a height of some 14 ft. It precariously looked down at its viewer, whilst holding fast onto a failed electric pylon.
We believed Mulji’s tableaux were now defined by such massed scale. And then Crystal Palace and Other Follies appeared. Held at Gallery Rohtas II, Lahore, this exhibition explores the sense of shelter “within a city coming apart,” as Mulji suggests, and the bright gloss of Lahore, as it is put back together again. The show itself is small. Its “construction” materials include mirror, and glass, and finely wrought acrylic sheets. In this fragile space, each of three sculptures moves us towards greater intimacy with the work.
We enter the gallery and find first a fallen minaret. It seems ironically conceived, in the manner of Multani mirror work. At once opulent and tragic in its fall, the cultural form is resolved in sharp cones, attached at either end. We may walk around it, as viewers, with a curious, sinking feeling. Or be struck by the elegant play of lights on its surrounding walls. When asked about the unusual aesthetic effect, Mulji speaks of our cultural ideas of beauty. “I am interested in seeing how far one can push [sculptural] coordinates, until this category becomes something else.” “The opposite of beauty,” she offers, or that which is unpalatable, even a certain expression of horror.
For this piece, the artist’s original references are two images of minarets from war-torn Bosnia. Still a work-in-progress though, “Twisted Logic” leads to other visibly homegrown images. At the far end of the gallery, we find a replica of “model homes” — the kind found at any local real estate office. But, as with the sculptor’s sense of craft, this house is built up in flat mirrored planes. Its polished surface breaks and reflects its larger surroundings. In addition, the mirrors themselves are run with crack lines. Down a side wall, or across the terrace, the marks are precisely cut and evident to all. With due drama, the model’s tilt is also such that it postures its own forthcoming breakage. Nevertheless, with some measure of delicacy and, quite without shame, the sheltering place continues to dream.
It continues to be itself – “the model home”. Titled “Crystal Palace”, this sculpture holds forth as exhibition centerpiece. In Mulji’s final work, we move to the projection of lazy summer afternoons. This particular sculpture presents an insider’s perspective. As viewers, we are invited to look out and onwards. We are invited to dream through imaginary windows. The work is, in fact, a suite of three grille silhouettes. They hang adjacent to each other in diminishing scale. Each laser-cut acrylic sheet is defined by a culturally familiar geometric pattern. The repetitive strength provides, as per real grilles, a place of safety. And then, before our very eyes, the grille lines change.

Source: tribune.com.pk