shaheen merali

Exhibition open to the public on
Fridays 2-7pm,
Saturdays 9am-noon
18th May - 6th July 2002
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
Keppel Street,
London WC1E 7HT






After the Deluge
Shaheen Merali
May 2002
Paper, cardboard, sellotape and brown tape, water and water bottles

Shaheen Merali is a visual artist and educator of South Asian descent, living and working in London. His work interrogates race and cultural difference in relation to Western society. His work includes sculpture, installation and performance. The works over the last fifteen years have addressed manifold issues, bringing together a multiplicity of languages from different discourses, namely that of the historical, the political, the kitsch, and play on the absence of knowledge about the effect of the everyday object and unacknowledged 'unexplored' territories. Whether as acquisition or escape, art has always fallen within a wider appropriation of colonised cultures and territories. The multi-media works reflect on the construction of images, their context and the historical place of post-colonial discourses around identity and their contemporary manifestations.

Merali’s work for Hygiene is titled After the Deluge. It consists of a small makeshift stall, a cardboard plinth covered and sellotaped with a series of torn illustrations from a catalogue of 'Far away and long ago,'* a collection of drawings and illustrations from the sixteenth century onwards of natives, bearers, scouts, slaves, savages, warriors, dancers and chiefs. On the stall stand a number of reclaimed but discarded bottles, filled with water; once refreshing and lithe, now scarred and weathered, the bottles are a monument to their companies, still bearing the design of the makers- embossed waves, alpine slopes and geometric modernism.

The sculpture, constructed out of recycled images/ objects, attempts to interrogate our need for the new, the virginal, and untouched territory. The sealed bottles’ contents once quenched and sufficed our bodily functions, as does all consumption, the subject can no longer bear to see its purchase in the lack. The loss of the pristine, makes the commodity threatening and unsafe, unhygienic and tarnished by a mantle of third-worldliness. Audiences are invited to drink from the bottles, as each bottle will contain water blessed by the recitation of sacred texts to help cure most conditions

He is currently a lecturer at Central Saint Martins School of Art and a researcher at the University of Westminster. He is also the co-founder of Panchayat Arts Education Resource Unit, an issue based archive currently held at the University of Westminster. Recent solo exhibitions include the Kunsthalle Exnergasse, Vienna and Art Exchange, Nottingham.
Group exhibitions include Host, Hastings Museum; Site+Sight, Earl Lau Gallery, Singapore; The Crown Jewels, Kampnagel, Hamburg; Musee Imaginaire, Museum of Installation (and tour); Ubudoda, Metropolitan Gallery, Cape Town ; and two survey shows in New York, 'Out of India', Queens Museum and 'Transforming The Crown', Bronx Museum. His collaborative performance/ video work, Colored Folks has extensively toured venues including the ICA and Centre of Attention, London and the National Review of Live Arts, Glasgow.

*'Far away and long ago' an exhibition of prints and illustrations at Michael Graham-Stewart, New Bond Street, London, March 2000.

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