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Out of Africa (Zarina Bhimji)

Article relating to a film, 2003
Published by: Condé Nast Publications
Year published: 2003
Number of pages: 2

image of Out of Africa (Zarina Bhimji)

Substantial feature on Zarina Bhimji’s critically acclaimed film, Out of Blue, in the magazine, Tate International Arts and Culture (March/April 2003), pp. VI-VII.The piece was extensively illustrated, including a portrait of the artist, by Ian Berry. The article related to a showing of the artist’s film that took place at Tate Britain, as part of a programme called Art Now, which ran 1 March - 5 May 2003 (In the article itself, the closing date was given as 27 April 2003.)

The article, Out of Africa, was introduced as follows: ‘Zarina Bhimji’s new film on show at Tate Britain draws on her childhood memories. The writer and broadcaster Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, who shares the artist’s Ugandan Asian origins, offers her own vivid reaction to their common experience’

Zarina Bhimji was once invited to show her startlingly challenging art at a deeply conservative Islamic centre, and then threatened to withdraw unless she was allowed to include commentaries on the naked human body, male and female. This educative confrontation took place at the beautiful building opposite the Victoria & Albert Museum where the Ismaili mosque is used by worshippers each evening and dawn.

Bhimji won and the centre gained something immensely important, letting innovation and rebellion into the hallowed halls, with their ancestral geometric patterns and fountains paying eternal homage to the past. The walls did not crumble; faith was not polluted, and profoundly held values were nourished by being engaged with in the most audacious way.

Some Muslim communities are waking up to the fact that art, writing, science, new ideas and intellectual debate once used to define Islam in the world. When Europe was locked in superstition and a rejection of threatening ideas, Muslim scholars were devouring the work of Greek philosophers and creating vital, inquisitive cultures. In the past 50 years a dark age seems to have descended on the Islamic world, making too many Muslims disenchanted, suspicious and hopelessly nostalgic. Optimists detect a new renaissance slowly unfolding and Bhimji (who may or may not be a practising Muslim) is, in my view, partly located in this re-awakening.

Related people

»  Zarina Bhimji

Born, 1963 in Mbarara, Uganda

Related exhibitions

Related venues

»  Documenta Halle

Kassel, Germany