Pi Artworks is proud to present Dhaka-based Bangladeshi artist Tayeba Begum Lipi's solo project at Art Basel Hong Kong 2016. In 2011 the artist represented her country at the 54th Venice Biennale. In 2013 the Guggenheim Museum acquired her work Love Bed (2012) which was included in the seminal group show No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia curated by June Yap at the Guggenheim Museum New York, and which subsequently travelled to Singapore Art Museum and Asia Society Hong Kong Center.
Lipi creates everyday objects, such as bikinis, nighties, high-heels, and handbags that appear as if encased in their own suit of metallic armour. Closer inspection reveals that the surfaces of these typically feminine objects are comprised of carefully welded, gold-plated safety pins, to create rigid but pliable surfaces. The golden safety pins transform these quotidian subjects into items imbued with luminosity and an atypical beauty.
At Art Basel Hong Kong the artist will exhibit recent works from this signature series - a handbag, a pair of shoes, and a nighty. The safety pins reference the artist's childhood, and her visceral memory of them being abundant in her large family. Yet, by forming them into a protective armour for their presumably female users, the artist creates objects with a sinister and melancholic undertone. There is also an embedded sense of violence from the hundreds of concealed safety pin pricks, which many women in Bangladesh use as tools to warn off potential abusers. Therefore, while referring to the artist's past, the work also draws on the universal theme of direct and indirect violence targeted at women.
Both the personal and the political are drawn out more explicitly in the twin screen video work Home (2015) which accompanies these objects. In it, Anonnya, a transgender woman who grew up not far from the artist, discusses her upbringing and elaborates on the rejection and loneliness she felt as she reconciled her feelings with the conservative society she found herself in. The work places the artist and Anonnya as parallel characters that have come through different life cycles.
The safety pin sculptures that accompany the film are re-imaginings of Anonnya's favourite handbag, nighty, and a pair of high heels. Her love and affection for these three objects became a regularly discussed topic between her and the artist. Each of these feminine objects embodies the curiosity and joy Anonnya received from them as well as the melancholy inherent in her story. Lipi confronts and comes to terms with the reality of an ostracised social group whose otherness made her feel fearful of them when she was younger. The film's edit is fragmented and at times desynchronised, which helps draw in the viewer's attention, bringing them in to an interview that, like her sculptural work, exudes both sadness and beauty.
The final work in the booth is Lullaby (2015), a looped audio recording of a musical collaboration between the two subjects, bringing some resolution to this body of work by exploring the two participants' mutual love of music. This emphasises the self-reflexive tension within much of Lipi's work in which she is documenting herself, while dealing with more universal issues.