Wednesday, August 21, 2013

WEARING: Imran Qureshi at the Met.

Over the weekend, I finally had an opportunity to visit The Roof Garden Commission: Imran Qureshi at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  When I first read about this year's rooftop commission, I was surprised to find that this was much more introspective than the usual summertime sculpture shows that take place at the top of the Met.
Pakistani artist Imran Qureshi's And How Many Rains Must Fall Before the Stains Are Washed Clean is in no way obtrusive, essentially becoming an aspect of the surroundings.  Handpainted in the color of dried blood, the work, which resembles Pollock's splatter paintings adorned with organic floral-type forms, calls to mind both the record of a battle scene and new life.
Though Ken Johnson's review in the Times criticized the work as not taking into account its site-specificity with relation to terrorism and the September 11 attacks, he still described the work thus: "A dreamlike carpet underfoot, bound to be scuffed and soiled by thousands of shoes and beaten by sun and rain, it remains generously open to meditative reflection."
I agree with Johnson's assertion that the work illicits reflection, and add that its violence is an ever present reminder of the struggles faced by our own and other cultures.  The rooftop exhibition is open through November 3.

Dress: Vintage, via Beacon's Closet Park Slope
Sandals: Madison Harding
Handbag: Vintage, via Goodwill
Sunglasses: Dolce and Gabbana
Necklace: Belonged to my mother

Photos by Kathy Paciello and myself.


  1. "...the Times criticized the work as not taking into account its site-specificity with relation to terrorism and the September 11 attacks..."

    I'm having trouble understanding that criticism. It seems to me that its site -- Manhattan -- makes it even more appropriate, not less. Am I missing something here? I've lived in NYC and am originally American but I'm pretty Canadian now so maybe that's why I don't see the conflict.

    1. Charlotte,

      Thank you so much for addressing this, as it was something I thought about for a long time after reading the article. I'll admit that the violent undertones escaped me when I experienced the piece, and only became apparent after reading the Ken Johnson's review in the Times. I think you are correct that the Manhattan setting is important to the meaning of the work, and I was somewhat surprised to hear the criticism. However, it was thought provoking, as I hadn't realized the very different reading visitors, including Johnson, had of the work.

      More from the article: "The incident on the roof points up a significant weakness in Mr. Qureshi’s piece: it’s not as site-specific as it claims to be. It isn’t adjusted to the complicated social and cultural context of the United States, which is vastly different from that of the Middle East and Pakistan. In its initial shock effect, it is as likely to suggest horror movies and episodes of 'C.S.I.' as current events."

      Whatever the reading, I think the work's import comes from its location in NYC, and, specifically, at the Met, as you said. Thank you for your thoughtful comment!

  2. so beautiful! you and the piece.
    i think art is meant to make people think and reflect. if it's making them uncomfortable, they need to reflect on Why it's doing that to him. imho.

    1. I couldn't agree with you more. There is no "correct" way to experience a work of art and that it what makes it such a useful tool for introspection. Thank you for the thoughtful comment!

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