FARIBA S. ALAM is a visual artist based in Brooklyn, NY.
I create large-scale installations that integrate tile, self-portraits and archival photographs. The visuality and indexicality of photography within the colonial and postcolonial imagination, particularly in the Indian subcontinent since the 1840s, are a departure point. I mine my family’s archival photographs in order to weave in my personal history. An intended effect of my work is to stimulate dialogue and reflection on the dynamic interplay of Islamic artistic tradition with more present and personal inquiries of gender and belonging.
Simultaneously, religious and secular allegories—with themes of migration, travel and fantasy—often inhabit my narrative influences. For example, several of my works reference the parable of the Night Journey or Mir'aj, in which the prophet Mohammed takes a mystical voyage from Mecca to Jerusalem riding a creature half-angel, half-horse. I am interested in investigating the fluidity between the intangible and real, the tension between spiritual transcendence and corporeal immanence, while space and direction are rendered ambiguous.
Alam's work has been shown at The Queens Museum, The Asia Society, Exit Art, The Museum of African Art, The Museum of Contemporary Art/Shanghai amongst other galleries in the U.S. and Asia. Collections include The Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Modena and the Burger Collection.
Fariba holds a B.A. in Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures from Columbia College, Columbia University. She is the recipient of a Fulbright fellowship (1998/1999) and holds an M.A. from New York University (2004). Fariba has volunteered her creative services for Sakhi for South Asian Women and The Acid Survivor's Foundation in Bangladesh.
“Finally, Fariba Alam’s ceramic tiles near the show’s entrance are clever, revelatory and lovely. The artist has transferred onto the surface of the tiles photographic imagery of a woman looking up at the ceiling of a building, perhaps a mosque, that is covered in decorative tiles in floral patterns and Islamic calligraphy. There is a riveting, visual newness to this work, making it a highlight of the show.”
A Collection Born of Cultural Dislocation
By BENJAMIN GENOCCHIO
+ORNATE ACTIVATE, Shirin Gallery, 511 West 25th Street, June 11- July 10, 2015
Ornate Activate examines the use of decorative motifs, architectural elements, cursive scripts and other forms of pattern-making by artists to create and imply content. The exhibition also examines the employment of culturally specific motifs as social and/or political commentary, as well as cultural indicators of historical referencing. The goal of the exhibition is to bring together a body of work that demonstrates a current interest by contemporary artists to merge and reclaim decorative and craft elements as meaningful and critical content signifiers.
Artists: Nida Abidi, Fariba Alam & Shagun Singh, Kamal Badhey, Shelly Bahl, Marcy Chevali, Priyanka Dasgupta, Roya Farassat, Asha Ganpat, Parisa Ghaderi, Zainab Hussain, Monica Jahan Bose, Vandana Jain, Umber Majeed, Radhika Mathews, Indrani Nayar-Gall, Kaveri Raina, Nirmal Raja, Sausan Saulat, Asma Ahmed Shikoh, Suran Song, Udita Upadhyaya
+BRIC BIENNIAL, VOLUME 1. Downtown Edition, BRIC House, Brooklyn, Sept 19-Dec 22, 2014
The first BRIC Biennial this fall will survey artists based in downtown Brooklyn and adjacent neighborhoods, a fitting focus given the location of BRIC House in downtown Brooklyn at the edge of Fort Greene, traditionally, an important cultural center in Brooklyn. http://bricartsmedia.org/events/bric-biennial-volume-i-downtown-edition
+LACE OF STARS, SOLO EXHIBITION, Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai, Oct 22- Nov 17, 2014
Press Release: Lace of Stars is a solo exhibition by Fariba Salma Alam, incorporating photography, projection mapping, textile and tile installation. A central theme to the works is a fractured female body capable of corporeal ascension, and an interplay between cast shadow, silhouette, foreground and space. Religious and secular allegories—with themes of migration, travel and fantasy— also inhabit Alam’s narrative influences. The name Lace of Stars refers to a constellation and a fantastical backdrop, reminiscent of the Islamic parable The Night Journey or Mir'aj, in which the prophet Mohammed takes a mystical voyage from Mecca to Jerusalem riding a creature half-angel, half-horse.
Alam’s visual influences include biological patterns, mathematical diagrams, pixels and architectural blueprints. Imbued with feminist scholarship of woman as discourse rather than real human—the ambivalent or suspended female form—Alam juxtaposes the silhouetted, soft female body against cold, discordant geometrical patterns. The symmetry of Islamic architecture and reductive lattice motifs provide a formal reference point for Lace of Stars, anchoring Alam’s process and visual language.
In the projection installation Bare Branches, geometric abstractions of female soldiers and animal horns, animating hidden, fighting, latent forces, emerge from a grainy silhouette. Alam plays on the notion of flight and nature’s tenuous balance in A Million Goodbyes. Diaphanous textile printed with a black and white image of a heron perched on branches is installed as suspended handkerchiefs. The same heron appears in the ceramic tile piece Lacuna-- tiles that trail into a wall corner, like architectural and abstracted lines referring to interrupted geometries.
+INDIA_ EFFECT BETWEEN MEMORY AND GLOBALIZATION
Artopia, Milan, Italy, May 2013- August 2013
Fariba S. Alam, Samanta Batra Mehta, Atul Bhalla, Gigi Sacra
Sakshi Gallery, Chennai, India. March 2012
M.F. Husain, S.H. Raza, Jamini Roy, F.N. Souza, Ram Kumar, Ravinder Reddy, Surendran Nair, Sunil Gawde, N.S. Harsha, Fariba Salma Alam, Samanta Batra, Rekha Rodwittiya, Sachin Tekade, Sabir Ali, Remen Chopra http://www.thehindu.com/arts/art/article2973851.ece
+TENTH PARALLEL, CONTEMPORARY PHOTOGRAPHY FROM SOUTH AMERICA AND INDIA
Foundazione Fotographia, Modena, Italy, February 2012
Samanta Batra Mehta, Nikhil Chopra, Amar Kanwar Fariba Salma Alam, Ketaki Sheth, Sudarshan Shetty, Dayanita Singh, Raghubir Singh , Vivan Sundaram, Claudia Andujar , Luz Maria Bedoya, Adriana Bustos , Duville Matias, Laura Glusman, Mark Pando, Ishmael Randall Weeks , Sara Branch, Rosangela Renna, Restiffe Mauro, Sebastian Szyd, David Zink Yi
curated by Filippo Maggia at
Former St. Augustine Hospital