Diana Al-Hadid: Trace of a Fictional Third
Editor’s Note: This is the first installment on a two-part series on the Diana Al-Hadid Exhibition at the VMFA.
The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts currently has on display a large sculpture work by Diana Al-Hadid.
Al-Hadid makes complex sculptures that seem in a state of flux, suggesting both incompletion and decay. Nasher Sculpture Center Director Jeremy Strick remarks: “Diana Al-Hadid creates breathtaking sculptures that surprise us by their unusual forms, unconventional use of materials, and distinctive range of reference and allusion. Her innovative work opens up new ground for the form and meaning of sculpture.”
Underlying her large-scale, baroque forms are a wide array of influences, including ancient Biblical and mythological narratives, Arab oral traditions, Gothic church construction, Western painting, Islamic ornamentation, and scientific advances in physics and astronomy.
This exhibition features a single new monumental sculpture—Trace of a Fictional Third—that interweaves landscape, architecture, and the human figure. It is a multilayer piece that appears to be a series of pyramids, columns, mountains, and colonnades.
The single large sculpture occupies a room in the 21st Century gallery until September 2. It is accompanied by a selection of new, heavily worked graphite drawings that shed light on Al-Hadid’s creative process. The sculpture evokes images of an unfinished building, a wedding cake, and archeological remains. It is difficult to discern if the object is in the process of construction or collapse.
This sculpture exemplifies Al-Hadid’s trajectory as it combines earlier architectural imagery with human figures. Human figures appear later in her work. The figures appear like ghosts within this large architectural contraption. The sculpture dominates the room, yet visitors are drawn into feeling various senses of scale as they walk around it.
Ranging in scale from the human to the architectural, her work references a diverse set of interests, including Arab and Greek mythology, Gothic and Middle Eastern architecture, figurative, emotional, cosmology, and physics. As one circles the piece, the smaller components like the steps or cubes garner attention. The eye is led through these various spaces in part by its design but also the flowing drips. The themes of motion arrested and time arise through the cascades of dripping forms.
Al-Hadid was born in Syria and raised in the United States, and she currently lives and works in New York. She is a former Richmonder, and a 2005 graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s MFA program for sculpture.
The exhibition is completed by additional works with themes of mapping, globalism, hybridity, cultural identity, and the tension between sacred and secular. The works are a combination of loans and permanent collection art. Trace of a Fictional Third is a temporary exhibition and is open to the public for free until September 2, 2012.
For more information on “Trace of a Fictional Third” now at the VMFA until September 2, please visit http://www.vmfa.state.va.us/Default.aspx
Jon Henry comes from the small town of Washington, Virginia. Xe finished xes degree at the University of Richmond and was named GayRVA.com's Out.Spoken. Richmonder of the Year for 2011. When not in class, xe is either in the studio or rabble rousing with other queer activists. Follow xem on Twitter.
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