The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Roof Garden is now officially open for the season (along with its bar!), and this year’s site-specific commission is a powerful pair of imposing sculptures by Pakistani artist Huma Bhabha. Titled We Come In Peace (a phrase lifted from the 1951 sci-fi film The Day the Earth Stood Still), the work conjures up an ominous but open-ended narrative, inviting visitors to explore their own thematic interpretations: subjugation and supplication, respect, fear, and/or adoration; social upheaval and displacement; gender, power, and “memories of place.”
Bhabha forged the two pieces in her Poughkeepsie studio from ephemera and construction materials (cork, Styrofoam, plastic) which she then cast in bronze. That “plastic bag” you see on the prostate figure was not a tarp laid out for the rainy Monday morning press preview conditions; it’s made of metal and part of the work.
(Photo by Scott Lynch/Gothamist)
The monumental sculptures stand somewhat removed from each other, but are clearly part of the same scene. The 18-foot-long supplicant is called Benaam (which in Urdu essentially means “nameless”), while the 12-foot-tall, five-face giant takes its name from the work as a whole. Both pieces allude to a wide swath of art history, from ancient African and Indian sculpture to contemporary works by the likes of Basquiat and David Hammons.
Huma Bhabha (Photo by Scott Lynch/Gothamist)
Huma Bhabha's We Come In Peace will be on view at the Met's Roof Garden from April 17th through October 28th.
This was previously published on the Gothamist newsletter on April 17, 2018. Don't miss stories—sign up for our newsletter here.