(b. 1963, Mbarara, Uganda; lives and works in London)

Waiting, 2007
Single-screen video installation, 35mm color film, HD transfer with Dolby 5.1 surround sound, 7’ 45”
Courtesy Zarina Bhimji Studio and DACS

Place and time are excluded from the frame. There are no people either, only hands, in passing. The camera focuses on the picturesque swinging threads of raw materials and the machines used for their processing. Walls, floors, and rooms are in view, focusing on details like knives, tables, and machinery used.

The white waves are sisal, reminiscent of European hair. The film was shot in three sisal-processing factories in Kenya, chosen for their architecture.

At the preliminary research stage, Bhimji was interested in the colonial economy and African workers’ unions and how there might be links between them, as well as the rise of African movements for independence. The process of research enabled her to find these locations and create the concept of work. Bhimji’s process of creation sought to stage the architecture as a still life painting, offering emotional close-ups. The work is a consideration of new possibilities.

Originally shot in mute, with curiosity and discovery, various sounds were recorded separately by Bhimji and then incorporated in the last phase of production. Light, texture, and movement were central to the camerawork. Woven together to work on multiple levels, the sound and image are equally important in this piece. The work becomes about the painterly forms, textures, light, and shadows. Post-production, Bhimji worked with a grader to color the film. This piece was shot for her Turner Prize nomination in 2007.

Valentin Diaconov