For Zarina Bhimji, 46-year-old photo and video artist, stories can be told without characters or conversations. In her 2002 film, “Out of Blue,” showing in the Art Institute’s Modern Wing, Bhimji allows her viewers to explore candid shots of Uganda’s domestic and civic landscape through a pastiche of desolate scenes over subtle background noise. Bhimji, a 2007 Turner Prize nominee, has received critical praise for this video work, which was commissioned for Documenta 11.
The tone is set during the video’s second minute when a beautiful Ugandan field ignites in flames. The scene then shifts to a village that represents the aftermath of General Idi Amin’s rule, who killed or expelled hundreds of thousands of Ugandans, in 1972. The next twenty-one minutes are spent viewing interior and exterior scenes of the village. Each scene averages approximately a minute, in which Bhimji allows viewers to interact and experience the surroundings. Subtle details are called to attention: a desolate village, the wind, distant vocals and tribal music.
Most scenes are set at either dawn or dusk, producing a moody tone. Bhimji uses architecture, light and color as abstract characters in response to her own childhood recollections during Amin’s dictatorial rule. Bhimji’s piece records a statement of contemporary grief, sorrow and hope as expressed through concrete visual evidence of Uganda. (Shiloh Aderhold)
Through January 3 at the Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan.