Art Basel OVR: Portals 2021: Faiza Butt | After All This Is Won

Online, 16 - 19 June 2021 

After All This Is Won is a powerful body of ceramics, ink drawings and works on polyester film developed by Butt over the last five years responding to and in some cases predicting the sudden decline of touch as an errant or unwanted gesture of contact outside the social fabric due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Touch, a profoundly intuitive, expressive and sensory orientation towards world-hood influencing an individual’s belonging to components of reality, is already under threat of re-issue in a technologically driven world whose virtuosity is found in simulated life experiences and ‘contact-less’ social transactions. For Butt, the necessities of an essential human experience may be transferrable to a digital realm where they are even experienced intensely, but the simulations cannot supplant our primal sense of fragility that motivates us to search for stable love, warmth and embrace in our relationships and surroundings. She builds on her integrative oeuvre in these works by scavenging images from the virtual world upon which she performs her interventions, presenting us with a series of shattered still lives centered on the premise of the phantasmic embrace now belonging to nostalgia as much as to hope. Formally Butt has long been interested in questioning aesthetics as a mimetic form of beauty while exposing her subjects – here the ‘hug’ – to a process of aestheticization in order to explore our visceral impulses towards how images of beauty and alterity travel across time and cultures. We might ask – when contact becomes an image, a memory, a dream, can the symbiotic branches of community survive solely in the imaginations? Will our contracts with capitalism and an increasingly ‘contact-less’ world be renewed indefinitely? Do we break the law when we break through forbidden embraces? Will our remaining four senses be enough to keep us human?

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