I don't want to be there when it happens
Artist. Adeela Suleman
Organisations. Gallery 4a, PICA
Adeela Suleman – b. 1970, Karachi. Lives and works in Karachi, Pakistan.
Suleman created two large-scale sculptural works for a recent exhibition at 4A Centre for Contemporary Asia Art and PICA, Perth. I don’t want to be there when it happens (2014-17) and Afterall it is always someone else who dies (2017) featured in the exhibition I don’t want to be there when it happens which borrowed its titled from Suleman’s work.
I don’t want to be there when it happens (2013-2017) is an elaborate chandelier created from hundreds of interlinked, hand-beaten steel sparrows. The sparrows are carefully rendered in great detail. The centre of the chandelier holds a light which serves to radiate shadows onto the gallery walls.
After all it’s always somebody else who dies (2017) descended the gallery stairwell at 4A Centre for Contemporary Asia Art. This large-scale hanging work was also composed of interlinked steel sparrows but here the sparrows’ feet and beaks touched, creating the shadow of a cocked pistol on the gallery wall behind the work. The shadow play in both works served to mirror the darker, ungraspable forces involved in the daily violence unfolding in Karachi.
Karachi residents have experienced religious and politically-based violence for many years, exacerbated more recently with the rise in power of the Taliban. Sulaman’s work is testament to a life lived in this conflict zone. For Suleman the symbol of the steel sparrow is highly pertinent – as part of her practice Suleman began producing a bird for each person killed in her hometown but very quickly there were too many deaths to keep up with. Her work forms a kind of cenotaph to these people.
A symposium When South is North was held by 4A Centre for Contemporary Asia Art and the University of Western Sydney on Wednesday 16 August 2017 to coincided with the opening of I don’t want to be there when it happens. Suleman along with Reena Kallat and others spoke.
The Keir Foundation is delighted to have worked with 4A Centre for Contemporary Asia Art as co-commissioner for Suleman’s work.