reality is somehow what we expect it to be, HAROON MIRZA @ IKON, BIRMINGHAM

17/02/19 ZM

Emoji summary: ➿ 🐚 🙃

reality is somehow what we expect it to be, HAROON MIRZA @ IKON

First walking in to Haroon Mirza’s show @ Ikon in Birmingham, I thought, ‘oh noe, this is an exhibition for NERDS’. An inscrutable logic, but the appearance of a logic that is supposed to impress me / it doesn’t, i am alienated and left out / wanting something to hold on to as it flings me, for it to be enough. I am not a teacher, i don’t ask to see your workings out. I think, the rest of the show didn’t tear up this initial reaction, didn’t completely counteract it. I carried it with me as I walked through.

This is a weird dungeon show; with the soundproofing spikes on door entrances, bad headache droning of ’the National Apavillion of Then’ (Haroon’s contribution to the 2011 Venice Biennale). I didn’t like the macro effect, it made me sweat, want to tie my hair up and crouch down to escape it just a bit. What I liked were the individual bits that felt like the oddball children of a crazy man in a shed in the back garden in a thunderstorm. He’s wearing a tinfoil hat & everything’s a mess except the thing he’s currently working on which is precious and clear on his desk, halo of space around it.

~~The floating magnet fake LV bags and purses on mirrors and solar panels, hovering like bees or sci-fi ghosts. kinda facetious, but we all know i love facetious. both spectacle and substance while still being true, pure gimmick. delicious.

~~The tipped up wet bubbling bin and keyboard. I can see what every degree show water feature wants to be, bc this is a balanced kind of aesthetic wildness. chaotic and considered, like a plate on Chef’s table it was slick and raw at the same time and masterful in that in a way that made me wish it was the only thing in the room (rather than bundled in a corner in and amongst it all)

~~The revolving turntable, spinning a wooden statue of a dholi & an old skl radio. A wooden jewellery box with red fairy lights clustered inside it. a kind of gut-laugh in the formality (n maybe also the lack of formality!) of it all. the intermittent music of the video, a pakistani chef at a street food stall, clanging his utensils on the hot tawa;; percussive and affecting in its steady, building rhythmic clap.

~~ Delegated to the Resource Room on the side, a short video called ‘mera naam hai’, where Haroon’s brother acts out three fake interviews (as Vito Acconci, Donald Judd & Haroon Mirza). Two are cogent impersonations, while the impersonation of Haroon disintegrates into, again, a percussive edit of his brother saying ‘mera nam haroon mirza hai’. I wish this was in the main body of the show; it’s funny, clever, self-deprecating in its lack of assumption.

These were isolated moments, which i felt like I had to sift for. I got the impression this was something of a retrospective (?) or maybe halfway towards the form of a retrospective. But there were a few moments where i felt the curation stepping in the way of me experiencing something. Maybe it was bc it all felt too cluttered, maybe i wanted it to decide if it was a retrospective or not, or maybe just because Haroon’s practice is so sprawling, across form, medium, subject & interest, but tbh most importantly, across tone and delivery. There were a few moments where i felt myself run to a grinding halt, whiplash from the gear change and the clutch slide back into it. I wanted more continuity, a slicker surface that i could glide down.

 

Writing this review has been like pulling teeth. my body felt awkward and alien in the space, leaning away as the work had a conversation with itself. I was third wheel, gooseberry, eavesdropper and not really needed or wanted (aw) in the interaction. While there were individual moments and objects i clung to and orbited with joy, there was too much in the room. I wish this show had been better curated, sparser, leaned further into the slick modernity of the objects and aesthetic both. I wish whoever was in charge of this was better at Instagram tbh, was more able to bear that in mind as a framing device for placement & space. Less stuff bunged in the corner, more stuff cared and considered in the way it Occupies Space.

Haroon Mirza's reality is somehow what we expect it to be is on @ Ikon in Birmingham until 24th Feb

{ the only reason The White Pube can still exist is because some of our readers choose to support us each month via Patreon. We sometimes do talks and other jobs but Patreon is how we get paid for the actual writing here - the reviews n art thoughts and so on. And it's so important to us 2 that we can stay independent critics without ties to big funders or institutions, public or private. Thank you for being our old timey patrons - we'll do our best to produce quality output; write stuff that is thoughtful and sincere. }

  • Black Twitter Icon
  • Black Instagram Icon