Naeem Mohaiemen

My Mobile Weighs a Ton

Installation View, Art Dubai.

My Mobile Weighs a Ton

Suite of 9 | Archival print on acid free cotton-rag paper | 20.3 x 25.4 cm each | 2008

This project started from a series of mobile phone photos I took in the aftermath of last year’s riots (and a few were re-imagined from other contexts). The show statement+press release couldn’t refer the riots (#1 priority was to make sure the show stayed open for 10 days), so I focused on the fetish for sunset imagery in local culture space.

“Something is making me queasy. We are inside an Asian century, and a local situation, that is producing endless beautiful imagery. But it’s all a little too gorgeous and refined. I get worried facing so much aesthetic perfection. Still need space for mistakes, rudeness, bacteria, and things that just don’t fit.

My work is interested in damage and panic. Politics come from the context in which image war happens. Mobile phone photos– blurry, low dpi, poorly framed, no rule of thirds, no color depth. Giving you quick access to make temporary provocations, without planning, intention or press card. As accidental as the boy snapping his lover on Dhanmondi Lake. Koi, amar kotha shune hasho na to…

We crave more spaces for DIY. Yes, anyone can do this, and everyone should. No barriers, no high culture priests, no hierarchy, no gurus. Eventually of course, every rebellion becomes it’s own clique. That’s when we need to move on to the next space. Friction and creative chaos. Accidental images get in the way of blueprints. Some people want us to shut up and become a nation of shoppers. But we’re not quite ready yet to be Singapore.”

I spent time debating whether I should keep quotes around “a very trivial matter” (label for an installation), thinking that would be enough of a signpost– to the Army statement at a press conference about the riots.

In the time of brutal edges, only a hammer is understood. With a few exceptions (Nader Rahman’s review in STAR), many did really think it was a show about mobile phones. Bread crumbs were eaten & lost. One older artist told me at the opening “you need to make it more obvious, subtle won’t work.”