The Met’s Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden, situated atop the Museum’s collection of art spanning five thousand years of world history and surrounded by the Manhattan skyline, has provided an unparalleled source of inspiration to artists invited to create site specific installations for this space. This year, we are delighted to present a provocative installation by Huma Bhabha. An artist who looks to art history to fashion her monumental forms, Bhabha uses modest materials to respond to our current political and social moment. We Come in Peace asks visitors to explore and interrogate their responses to the work, and prompts a consideration of such potent topics as violence, social upheaval, religion, and gender.
Huma Bhabha born in Karachi addresses themes of colonialism, war, displacement, and memories of place. Using found materials and the detritus of everyday life, she creates haunting human figures that hover between abstraction and figuration, monumentality and entropy.
Two sculptures, the twelve-foot-tall, five-headed intersex figure We Come in Peace and the eighteen-foot long prostrate Benaam, carefully oriented toward each other, are nestled in the middle of New York, with the skyline rising around them.
Huma opines, “I like to think of civilization as a form of evolution or devolution, from the beginning up to now. I am very interested in how McEvilley writes about the crosspollination of art and ideas between Greek and Indian civilizations, the artificial separation of East and West, and my work is about that.”
Working painstakingly to complete her work, Huma says, “Craftsmanship is important to me, and I am interested in showing my hand in my work. For me, it was understood that how well you make something has a lot to do with it being really good.”
In addition to the installation’s entanglements with political narratives, both historical and current, Bhabha also considers art history, as she does in her practice more widely. She is stimulated by art from across time and cultures, which is evident in the references that one might find in her sculptures.