HUMA BHABHA Shares the Cinematic Inspirations for her Monstrous Sculptures

top: Huma Bhabha installation view at Veneklasen/Werner bottom:still from Once Upon a Time in the West, 1968

top: Huma Bhabha installation view at Veneklasen/Werner
bottom: still from Once Upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone, 1968)

Artist HUMA BHABHA engages with the human form in raw and visceral ways, using found materials to make sculptures that are monstrous and totemic, as if they’ve come from a distant past or the decaying ruins of some future civilization. They are also globally referential, suggesting Greek kouroi, African sculpture, Easter Island heads, Egyptian statues, as well as reworkings of modern artists like Picasso and Giacometti, as well as Robert Smithson and Sterling Ruby. Bhabha grew up in Karachi, Pakistan, and has been living and working in New York for decades, combining the “ruined but functional beauty” of the former with the “rawness, even when gentrified” of the latter into contrasting forms that are athletic in their potential energy and terrifying in their bricolage.

In addition to art, politics, and geography, Bhabha is influenced by film and television, especially science-fiction and horror. “For me, movies provide a model or armature for a way to combine pop culture and current events in my work,” says Bhabha, who recently opened an exhibition at Veneklasen/Werner in Berlin, following a residency at the American Academy. “Sometimes my work could almost function as a prop, and I like the combination of drama and humor in many horror movies. I want my work to have that combination.”

032c asked Bhahba what films most influenced her work. Below are her picks, accompanied by shots of her work.

Zardoz (John Boorman, 1974)

left: still from Zardoz, 1974 right: Huma Bhabha, What is Love detail, 2013

left: still from Zardoz (John Boorman, 1974)
right: Huma Bhabha, It’s Me detail, 2013

The Third Man (Orson Welles, 1949)

left: Huma Bhabha, Untitled, 2013 right: still from The Third Man, 1949

left: Huma Bhabha, Untitled detail, 2013
right: still from The Third Man (Orson Welles, 1949)

L’Avventura (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1961)

left: Huma Bhabha, D.M.C.M., 2013 right: still from L'Avventura, 1961

left: Huma Bhabha, D.M.C.M., 2013
right: still from L’Avventura (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1961)

2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)

left: Huma Bhabha, The Joke rear view, 2013 right: Still from 2001: A Spacy Odyssey, 1968

left: Huma Bhabha, The Joke rear view, 2013
right: still from 2001: A Spacy Odyssey, Stanley Kubrick, 1968

Scanners (David Cronenberg, 1981)

left: still from Scanners, 1981 right: Huma Bhabha, What Is Love detail, 2013

left: still from Scanners, David Cronenberg, 1981
right: Huma Bhabha, What Is Love detail, 2013

Huma Bhabha is on view at Veneklasen/Werner until July 26, 2014.