The two transparencies mounted on light boxes in this show are the result of careful research carried out over the course of three trips, since 1998, to Uganda, the country where Bhimji was born. These visits also resulted in Bhimji’s first film Out of Blue, commissioned and co-produced by Documenta 11. Focusing on interiors or architectural structures, Bhimji’s photographs convey an incredible sense of intimate stillness and beauty, despite their monumental scale. Although there is a suggestion of human presence – in disused fans balancing on the floor or in wires hanging from a ripped out light socket – hinting at some elusive narrative, it is the artist’s ability to capture a moment through her nuances of colour, texture and her suggestions of space that is overwhelming.
In one of the works, broken fans take on a forlorn sculptural quality in the emptiness of a vast, dilapidating room; in the other, the burning heat of the mid-day sun is tangible beyond the open wooden doors, through which the blinding sunlight floods. Textures too are important, from the coarseness of a scuffed and grease-stained wall to the shiny smoothness of a much-worn floor, to the matt finish of the light boxes themselves which lends a softer, quieter tone to the works.
The exhibition conveys a psyche of decay, loss, stillness and unspoken histories, but the translation of the artist’s tender, almost lyrical, visual language and the works’ elusive titles – Grenade and Howling Like Dogs, I Swallowed Solid Air – are left to the viewer.