Scaramouche is pleased to present a solo exhibition by Seher Shah. Featuring a collection of drawings, prints, photographs, and sculptural works, “Object Anxiety” continues the artist’s exploration of architectural modernism, specifically, new Brutalism’s engineered social spaces and urban environments. With its oppressive scale, hard-edged geometric forms, and imposing concrete structures, Shah views Brutalism as particularly authoritarian. Breaking down its structures into their component parts, Shah pieces these visual objects together into delicate abstractions that deconstruct their imposition on the human landscape.
The 6-foot by 8-foot graphite and gouache drawing Object Relic (Unité d’ Habitation) (2011) rearticulates iconic French architect Le Corbusier’s Unité d’Habitation, a low-income housing project constructed in 1952 in Marseille, France. Located on the outskirts of the city center, this dense structure of interlocking living components still looms over its suburban landscape, a monument to Le Corbusier’s much-maligned utopian ideals. In Shah’s hands, its regimented form has been disassembled into a sprawling grid and rectangular rooms, stripping the original structure of its height and mass. The Mirror Spectacle (2010) is a giclee print that expounds upon a photograph of a nineteenth-century colonial coronation ceremony. Fragmenting the architecture across the print’s 10-foot surface, Shah consequently inserts detailed, monolithic walls and barriers to divide spectator from spectacle – a critical gesture that questions architecture’s aesthetics of power.
Other drawings and objects appropriate less specific subject matter but retain Shah’s distinctive Brutalist vocabulary. Monument Wall (2009) features floating concrete plinths bisected by jagged, pitch-black gouache incursions. Shah’s lightbox series Hinterland Structures (2011) employ the artist’s photographs of the American west, in which barren desert landscapes are marked by strangely alien man-made structures, a common thread throughout “Object Anxiety.” Breaching the architectural space of the gallery itself, Shah presents a floor-based sculptural installation Object repetition (line to distance) (2011), a series of small, sharp, white plaster objects that literalize – in three-dimensions – an architectural modernism gone awry.
Born in 1975 in Karachi, Pakistan, Seher Shah grew up in London, Brussels, and New York City. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Architecture from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1998. Recent exhibitions include “Eccentric Architecture” at the Queens Museum of Art; “21: Twenty-First Century Artists” at the Brooklyn Museum; “Drawing Space and Line of Control” at Green Cardamom, London; “Infinite Possibilities” at Momenta Art, Brooklyn; and “On Rage/ Uber Wut” at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin. Her work is included in the permanent collections of The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Brooklyn Museum, Queens Museum of Art, and Museum of Contemporary Art in Schauffhausen, Switzerland, among others. She has had reviews in the New York Times, Art Asia Pacific, Bidoun, Art Papers, Newsweek, and Frieze Magazine. Shah lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.