- Rashid Rana
- Red Carpet - 1
- chromogenic print mounted on Diasec
The inception of Rashid Rana's first Carpet series, the present work is arguably the most iconic example of this artist's output to date. Red Carpet – 1 epitomizes his celebrated Carpet works inasmuch as it succinctly combines stunning physical execution with an essentially Post Modern dialect. Superbly conceived and critically-acclaimed, Rana's Carpets take the archetypal appearance and immense cultural symbolism of the traditional woven carpet and turn these connotations on their head through his jaw-dropping appropriation of contemporary photo-images. The overall character of Red Carpet - 1 is constructed through thousands upon thousands of tiny images depicting scenes of slaughtered animals, specifically goats, which together forge an immense mosaic populated by countless traumatic tesserae.
Overall the work imitates the pixillated architecture of a grainy digital image, in part evoking the low-resolution original video from which the individual images have been sourced, whilst simultaneously painting the broader picture of the original carpet, including the subtle play of light across its slightly ruffled textured surface. As we move closer to the highly polished surface the geometric pattern breaks down into its constituent images of slaughter, revealing the gore of lifeless goats lying in puddles of blood with throats slit in accordance with Halal law. Primarily enlisting red, white and blue, the colourist complexity of Red Carpet – 1 also extends to spectrums of pinks and purples, and even highlights of yellows and greens. Rana's attention to the minutiae of the image draws on the historical traditions of miniature painting from South Asia, and particularly the miniaturist traditions of Lahore, where the National College of Arts has a prolific miniature art department. Initially trained as a painter and educated in Boston, Rana has adopted the media of photographs, videos and installations that tackle multiple issues including the politics of gender, violence and popular culture, as well as the authenticity of an artwork in the current media age of global distribution.
The epic scale of this artwork's construction and its seemingly endless matrix of visual data parallel the colossal human endeavour that goes into the production of one of these carpets: just one square inch can contain up to 550 knots traditionally woven in silk, wool, or cotton. However, while Rana's undertaking may be inextricably related to the traditions of carpet-weaving and miniature painting, the formal and conceptual project is entirely his own. Alluding to the great cultural divide between East and West, the conflict between the public and the private, and pitting the permissive against the conservative in semi-tolerant societies, Rana juxtaposes contrasting stereotypes with brilliant alacrity. Fascinated by how meaning is often misunderstood in our media-oriented society, Rana's photographic practice creates images that offer an alternative view of how popular ideas and prejudices are created.