In this age of globalized cultural exchanges and blurred boundaries, frameworks defining histories and cultures are challenged. Majeed examines her cultural identity burdened by tradition, creating amidst the contemporary a sense of displacement. This dysfunction of integration and communication, visually or conceptually is recreated to either limit or encircle the viewer.
Majeed’s personal history is an important component in the process and conception of her work; a conflicted dialogue emerges as a consequence of her physical and cultural diaspora. Her art training in Pakistan has evoked the need to explore her South Asian roots whilst questioning her American upbringing. A sense of displacement in both the art institution as well as in the public realm has led her to “attempt” to belong, through the specificity of subject matter and aesthetic devices. The motifs, sites, and references she uses are that of the body, spoken and visual language, notions of institution, and the public.
In Still Life, the struggle to embody a Western painting tradition is visible as all components within the video are attempting to remain still, to compose an appropriate image of a vase of flowers; essentially critiquing the very tradition. The biases of Western Art history led her to question her place as a South Asian, American, a female, Muslim, and a young artist in a Western art institution in South Asia. Taking the role of an outsider on the inside, Umber explores concepts of existentialism, identity, and self-representation.
Umber Majeed is visual artist, graduated from Beaconhouse National University, Lahore, Pakistan with a BFA. She has exhibited nationally and internationally, and her work is now part of a a number of collections including the Devi Art Foundation. She is currently based in New York, USA, where she is pursuing the MFA Fine Art Program at Parsons the New School.
Photo Credits | South Asian Visual Arts Center