Hamishi Farah at Fri Art Kunsthalle / Fribourg

Hamishi Farah
Dog Heaven 2 : How Sweet the Wound of Jesus Tastes
Organized by Mohamed Almusibli,

June 5 – July 31, 2021

Fri Art Kunsthalle Fribourg
Petites-Rames 22
Fribourg, Switzerland

All images courtesy and copyright of the artist and space. 

Fri Art Kunsthalle Fribourg Hamishi Farah is a self-taught artist whose work in conceptual and figurative painting is situated within the production of a politics and philosophy of representation, with a particular focus on the libidinal afterlife of coloniality and its permeation through contemporary art. 

Dog Heaven 2: How Sweet the Wound of Jesus Tastes is Hamishi Farah’s first institutional exhibition and a sequel to the artist’s previous solo show in Brussels in 2015. The exhibition consists of newly commissioned paintings and other recent works. The works presented in the exhibition are productions from 2015 to 2021 and each testifies to the artist’s field of research on limitations and methods of representation. 

At the entry of the room, the fountain sculpture Dog Heaven (2015) is a tribute to the ship mascot on the Sea Venture, flagship of the Virginia Company’s second colonial fleet. On the 2nd of June 1609, at the time of the Sea Venture’s shipwreck, and subsequent mutiny, the unnamed hound’s symbolic status shifted to serve as a mascot for collective resistance against Virginia Company stakeholders such as Sir Thomas Gates, whose diaries inspired Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest. Filled with a mixture of Swiss water, and water collected from ‘international waters’ the sculpture is also accompanied by an application for the importation of pets, retroactively applied to this first dog on Bermuda. The text has been placed in a moulding on the wall, meandering between the language of legal abstraction, as it applied in the time of the Sea Venture, and that of today. 

Dog Heaven’s reflection on the instrumentality of the dog as a moralized subject proceeds toward Dog Heaven 2, Ghost of the Black Dog (2021), and progresses to works leaning a little further away from narrative such as Helen (2017), Spider under Glass (2021) and Ghost Descending a Staircase (2021), which are drawn together by non-human representation in captivity. 

Three new paintings, Ostentatio Vulnerum (2021), Crucifix (2021) and Doubting Thomas (2021), foreground representations of Christ’s wounds and suffering from sculptures from the early middle-ages to the 16th century. A tension is created between the contemporary practice of the artist and the symbolism of the subjects. Spinning above the paintings is a small crucifix (Spinning Around, 2021) produced on site, serving as a fan of sorts. With consideration to Fribourg’s Catholic heritage, Farah’s extends upon their study in Afropessimism through the vector of the Christ, casting a contemporary fixation with images of marginal suffering against its epistemic inheritance with regard to the historical embeddedness of representation to suffering and suffering to social cohesion. 

While representational painting is shackled to narrative (Black Lena Dunham, 2020 and Representation of Arlo, 2018), representation itself flirts with an atemporal immanence upon arrival at a Blackness understood outwardly as a concept that negatively structures human capacity. The philosopher and poet Fred Moten argues that the negative structuring of human capacity is not to invoke the inhuman but something closer to the ante-human, that which necessarily came before, in perpetuity before, suggesting this world-shaping Blackness as another name for the force that is not endemic to, but currently embodied by the people who refer to ourselves as Black. To stretch an Afropessimist logic atemporally, you could assume Jesus Christ was Black, not from a phenotypic standpoint, but because it was necessary for Christians to reenact his murder in perpetuity to feel human. 

Opening the new bookshop of Fri Art Kunsthalle and extending the exhibition, the Airport Love Theme (2020) drawing series is a selection of original comic book plates made by the artist following his incarceration and deportation at the U.S. border due to questionable new laws in 2016. 

Hamishi Farah (1991), formerly based in Melbourne, Australia, has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions internationally in commercial, institutional, artist run, and offsite settings. They are represented by Arcadia Missa in London, UK and Chateau Shatto, Los Angeles, USA. Hamishi is a founding member of Aotearoa based rap collective Fanau Spa. Their graphic novel Airport Love Theme, based on a true story, is published by Book Works in the UK in January 2020. The exhibition is organised by Mohamed Almusibli, an artist and independent curator based in Geneva, and produced by Fri Art Kunsthalle. With the generous support of gallery Arcadia Missa (London). Proofreading: Jack Sims The installation Window Seat by Alfatih and Soraya Lutangu Bonaventure that accompanies Hamishi Farah’s exhibition is presented on June 18, 2021, preceded by the workshop “Critique & Care” by Deborah Joyce Holman. More information on fri-art.ch