Zarina Bhimji

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Zarina Bhimji (born 1963[1]) is a Ugandan Indian photographer, based in London. She was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2007,[2] exhibited at Documenta 11 in 2002,[3] and is represented in the public collections of Tate, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and Moderna Museet in Stockholm.

Life and work[edit]

Born in Mbarara, Uganda, Bhimji was educated at Leicester Polytechnic (1982–1983), Goldsmiths' College (1983–1986) and Slade School of Fine Art, University College London (1987–1989).[4] Her work appeared in Creative Camera in April 1990,[5] and in a landmark issue of Ten.8 magazine as early as 1992.[6]

In 2001, Bhimji had her first solo exhibition in the U.S., Cleaning the Garden, at Talwar Gallery, New York[7] and won the EAST award at EASTinternational selected by Mary Kelly and Peter Wollen.[citation needed]

She participated in documenta 11 in June to September 2002 with her 16 mm film.[8]

From 2003 to 2007, she travelled widely in India, East Africa and Zanzibar, studying legal documents and the stories of those who formed British power in those countries, carrying out interviews and taking photographs.[9]

In 2003 Bhimji received the International Center for Photography's, Infinity Award in the Art Photography category.[10]

Zarina Bhimji monograph, published by Ridinghouse in 2012.

In 2007, she was shortlisted for the Turner Prize for photographs of Uganda. Their theme was the expulsion of Asians from the country by Idi Amin and the subsequent loss and grief caused.[11] The photographs were exhibited at Haunch of Venison gallery in London and Zurich.[9] Her Turner Prize display included a film, Waiting, which was shot in a sisal-processing factory.

The Tate gallery describes her work:

Bhimji’s photographs capture human traces in landscape and architecture. Walls are a recurring motif, attracting her through their absorption of history as they become a record of those who built, lived within and ultimately abandoned them. Despite a conspicuous absence of the body, the photographs emit a human presence. Reference to it is sometimes explicit – a row of guns awaiting use in Illegal Sleep, yet sometimes only implied – the hanging, disconnected and electrical wires in my Burnt my heart ... Bhimji captures her sites with relentless formal concerns intended to convey qualities of universal human emotion and existence – grief, longing, love and hope. Concrete places become abstract sentiments as the physical rhythms of landscape and architecture become psychological.[9]

In 2012, the first major survey exhibition of her work was held at Whitechapel Gallery, London, January–March 2012, which traced 25 years of her work. It opened with the joint premiere of her film, Yellow Patch (2011), at The New Art Gallery Walsall[12] and the Whitechapel Gallery. The film was inspired by trade and migration across the Indian Ocean. An accompanying monograph was published by Ridinghouse.[13]

Consisting of over 100 unframed photographs and multiple embroideries, Lead White is a meditation on power and beauty. It is the culmination of a decade-long investigation conducted over multiple continents, delving into national archives to capture details of words, lines, stamps and embossing. Bhimji creates poetic narratives by editing and repeating these details, as if constructing a musical composition, to explore what archives do, how they categorise and how they reveal institutional ideologies. The work also combines digital and physical crafts – including the use of embroidery for the first time in Bhimji’s practice – drawing attention to textures and traces, light and shadow. Her latest work, Lead White has been commissioned by Sharjah Art Foundation.[14] Lead White was exhibited at Tate Britain in 2018/19.[15]


Solo exhibitions[edit]

  • 1992: Zarina Bhimji: I Will Always Be Here, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham[16]
  • 1995: Zarina Bhimji, Kettle's Yard, Cambridge (introduction by Marina Warner)[16]
  • 1998: Cleaning the Garden, Harewood House, Terrace Gallery, Leeds[17]
  • 2006: Zarina Bhimji, Haunch of Venison, London[17]
  • 2007: Zarina Bhimji, Haunch of Venison, Zurich[17]
  • 2009: Zarina Bhimji, Out of Blue, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, USA[17]
  • 2010: Who Knows Tomorrow, Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, Germany[17]
  • 2012: Zarina Bhimji, Whitechapel Gallery, London and Kunstmuseum Bern, Switzerland[17]
  • 2018: Lead White, Tate Britain[15]

Group exhibitions[edit]

  • 1985: f.stops, Chelsea School of Art, London[16]
  • 1985: Mirror Reflecting Darkly, Brixton Art Gallery, London[16]
  • 1986: Darshan: An Exhibition by Ten Asian Photographers, Camerawork, London[16]
  • 1986: From Two Worlds, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London[16]
  • 1986: Jagrati, Greenwich Citizens Gallery, London[16]
  • 1987: The Image Employed: the Use of Narrative in Black Art, Cornerhouse, Manchester[16]
  • 1987: Polareyes, Camden Arts Centre, London[16]
  • 1987: The Devils Feast, Chelsea School of Art, London[16]
  • 1987: Dislocations, Kettle's Yard, Cambridge[16]
  • 1988: Spectrums Women's Photography Festival Open Exhibition, South London Gallery[16]
  • 1988: The Essential Black Art, Chisenhale Gallery, London and UK tour[17]
  • 1989: Fabled Territories, City Art Gallery, Leeds (toured)[16]
  • 1989: Intimate Distance, the Photographers' Gallery, London[16]
  • 1990: In Focus, Horizon Gallery, London[16]
  • 1990: Passing Glances: Works by 5 Artists Presented by Artangel in Collaboration with the British Library, British Library, Euston Road, London[16]
  • 1990: The Women in My Life, the Small Mansions Arts Centre, London[16]
  • 1991: Shocks to the System: Social and Political Issues in Recent British Art from the Arts Council Collection, South Bank Centre, London (toured)[16]
  • 1993: On Taking a Normal Situation, Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst, Antwerpen[16]
  • 1994: Iniva inauguration exhibition, Iniva London[17]
  • 1995: The Impossible Science of Being, the Photographers' Gallery, London[16]
  • 1996: In/Sight, Guggenheim Museum, New York[17]
  • 1997: No place (like home), Walker Arts Centre, Minneapolis[17]
  • 2002: Documenta 11, Kassel[17]
  • 2003: Istanbul Biennale, Istanbul[17]
  • 2005: British Art Show 6, Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead and UK tour[17]


Bhimji's work is held in the following public collections:


  1. ^ Morrill, Rebecca; Wright, Karen; Elderton, Louisa, eds. (2019). Great women artists. Phaidon Press. p. 62. ISBN 9780714878775.
  2. ^ Tate. "Turner Prize 2007 shortlist announced – Press Release | Tate". Tate. Retrieved 29 October 2018.
  3. ^ "Zarina Bhimji". Retrieved 29 October 2018.
  4. ^ "Education". Archived from the original on 14 May 2007. Retrieved 5 October 2023.
  5. ^ "Zarina Bhimji". Retrieved 2 September 2019.
  6. ^ 'Critical Decade: Black British Photography in the 80s', Ten.8 vol. 2, no. 3, 1992
  7. ^ "Zarina Garden-Press Release". Retrieved 16 November 2018.
  8. ^ Mercer, Kobena (9 September 2002). "Documenta 11". Frieze (69). Retrieved 13 March 2019.
  9. ^ a b c "Turner Prize: The shortlisted artists". Archived from the original on 21 November 2007.
  10. ^ "2003 Infinity Award: Art". International Center of Photography. 23 February 2016. Retrieved 13 March 2019.
  11. ^ Reynolds, Nigel, "Iraq protest camp shortlisted for Turner Prize" The Daily Telegraph online, 10 May 2007. Retrieved 21 May 2007.
  12. ^ "Zarina Bhimji: Yellow Patch, 20 Jan 2012 – 13 Apr 2012, The New Art Gallery Walsall", ArtRabbit.
  13. ^ "Zarina Bhimji Ridinghouse publication". Ridinghouse. Retrieved 5 August 2012.
  14. ^ Tate. "NEW DISPLAYS THIS AUTUMN AT TATE BRITAIN – Press Release | Tate". Tate. Retrieved 29 October 2018.
  15. ^ a b Tate. "Zarina Bhimji: Lead White: Until 2 June 2019 – Display at Tate Britain". Tate. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Keen, Melanie; Ward, Elizabeth (1996). Recordings, a select bibliography of contemporary African, Afro-Caribbean and Asian British art. London: Institute of International Visual Arts and Chelsea College of Art and Design. ISBN 9781899846061. OCLC 36076932.
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Bhimji, Zarina (2012). Zarina Bhimji. Whitechapel Art Gallery. London. ISBN 9781905464517. OCLC 779254824.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  18. ^ Tate. "Zarina Bhimji born 1963". Retrieved 5 October 2023.
  19. ^ "Zarina Bhimji: Out of Blue – Moderna Museet i Malmö". Moderna Museet i Malmö. Archived from the original on 13 April 2019. Retrieved 5 October 2023.

External links[edit]