Now that the Frieze frenzy is over, it is good to let our art-saturated brains stare at a white wall, ‘read’ a cereal box over breakfast or spend way too much time in the shower studying the label of a suddenly ever-so-interesting shampoo bottle.

After these exercises we may take some time to reflect, then take a second look at one of the hundreds of artists featured at Frieze whose work stayed with us.

Stephen Friedman Gallery presented a solo exhibition by Huma Bhabha that included the debut of her new sculpture, ‘Ghost of Humankindness’ (2011). Known as an experimental dumpster diver, Bhabha makes use of discarded objects and construction materials to create work that merges sci-fi iconography with traditional cultural references. Continuing to explore universal yet personal themes of war and displacement, ‘Ghost of Humankindness’ evokes a subtle nostalgia that collides with the reality of today.

The centre piece of the showcase, ‘Ghost of Humankindness’ is a 2.5 metre tower of stacked polystyrene cubes, modelling clay, discarded paper and spray paint resembling a modern totem figure. Bhabha transformed each individual element of the sculpture using the ancient practice of lost-wax casting to reproduce the material element and tactility of the original work.  These simple materials are brought together with precious, hand-painted bronze in a fragile form.

The haunting figure stands tall in the midst of photo drawings which combine photographs taken in her native Karachi in southern Pakistan with expressive drawings in black and white ink. The photo drawings portray various landscapes such as construction sites painted over with milky white ink depicting an ominous face. The installation of the works is described by the artist as being ‘filled with memories of beauty and destruction’.

The Frieze Art Fair had our minds going into overdrive trying to take in, analyze and decrypt the artwork. But whatever you think you see in Huma Bhabha’s work is likely to be the viewer’s own projected message. As she comments to New York Times’ T magazine: ‘People see a political element to the work. It’s not my intention. It’s not didactic or specific. They see more than what I initially had in mind.’

Words by Eve Keskinen

All images crdited to Stephen Friedman Gallery
Frieze Art Fair 2011
Photo by Linda Nylind
Courtesy of Linda Nylind/ Frieze


Frieze Art Fair, Huma Bhabha, Stepen Friedman Gallery,