Zarina Bhimji is a photographer, filmmaker and installation artist, whose work captures human traces in empty landscapes and buildings haunted by their complex histories. Although Bhimji usually begins with extensive research in places such as East Africa or India, her final works adopt a poetic approach in their portrayal of universal concepts of absence, decay, longing and beauty. Her images deliberately elicit conflicting emotions and thus emphasise the complexity of human experience.
In 2004, an installation of Bhimji’s photographs, which included Grenade, Howling Like Dogs, I Swallowed Solid Air and Memories Were Trapped Inside the Asphalt, was showcased as part of the Iniva’s Archive Season. Taken during her trips to Uganda, they represented the devastating consequences of Idi Amin’s regime. Her large-scale triptych of light boxes showed images of decaying architecture and empty interiors with broken fans and ripped out sockets that resonated with the feelings of loss and displacement.
Bhimji, who is of Indian descent, was born in Mbarara, Uganda, but her family moved to the UK in 1974, following the expulsion of Asian Ugandans under Idi Amin’s rule. Bhimji studied Fine Art at Goldsmiths, University of London, later completing a postgraduate course at the Slade School of Fine Art. Her work has been shown extensively in international group and solo shows, with a major mid-career retrospective at the Whitechapel Gallery in 2012. Some of her achievements include the film debut Out of Blue at Documenta XI, Kassel in 2002, followed by her participation at the 50th Venice Biennale in 2003, as well as a nomination for the Turner Prize in 2007. Her work is held in the public collections of many international museums including Tate Britain, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago and the Kadist Art Foundation, Paris to name a few.
Bhimji lives and works in London.