Haseeb Ahmed “The Wind Egg” at the Von Karman Institute
Haseeb Ahmed poster Wind Personification, presented at the Von Karman Institue during The Wind Egg, on May 4, 2016
I met Haseeb Amhed – an American artist based in Brussels since 2014, and a friend -, in 2011 at the Jan van Eyck Academy in Maastricht, NL. We were both researchers in the Fine-Art department for two years, I was there in 2010-2011, Haseeb in 2011-2012. I missed many of his numerous shows and interventions since I know him, but I have had several chances to appreciate the evolution of his work over the years in the exhibitions Table-Tops Room at the JVE in Maasticht in 2011, Has the World Already Been Made? in Hedah in 2013 (during which Haseeb kindly invited me to give a presentation in the space about my work), or Fish-Bone Chapel in his studio at Le Sceptre in Brussels in 2014.
Haseeb sometimes glides in Germany
The first contact I had with him was indirect, he was presented to me by a member of the recruitment jury as “a young artist that comes from the MIT”, the day he passed his interview to join the JVE. I admit that I was slightly jealous, I imagined him as some kind of polymath, brilliant and arrogant young men that would detect and criticize all the scientific flaws that my color research contained at that time – or even worse ignore me because I was a beginner. I was also happy and excited to meet another artist that develops an artistic practice related to the sciences. Eventually I felt like working even harder and I spent the whole christmas holiday period of 2010-2011 working alone in the JVE’s building.
Detail of one of the two pieces on display in the show HWBM x7 by Haseeb Ahmed and Daniel G. Baird, at hl-projects in Brussels, 2015
I have always found it difficult to explain to others what Haseeb’s doing – it’s usually a good sign I assume. Several times Haseeb surprized me, some of these times I even felt disappointed because I was projecting my own visions and ideas on some products of his studio practice. Similarities between him and me might explain my attraction for his work back then: I was working with lines of colored pigments / he was printing beautiful green, red or white geometric objects with thermoplastic lines using his 3D printer; I admire the Gothic Architecture from the Middle-Ages (especially the Stained Glass of the French Cathedrals that I visited as a kid in Paris, Amiens, Strasbourg, Chartres, etc.) / he did a lot of works related to the complex sculptural patterns of the domes in the great Islamic architecture (the Alhambra of Grenada in particular); Haseeb also likes to write, he likes drawing, he studied both Applied-Arts and Fine-Art (me as well), discussing about art education we agreed on many points, for example we both recognized the importance of drawing as a way of thinking and understanding.
Haseeb wrote the following lines in the foreword of my Interview Beta in 2011:
[…] one can know something only to the extent that they engage with it – simply said: ‘to draw is to know.’
The wind’s face, two vortex generated by a delta-wing placed in a wind tunnel. The picture is created by illuminating smoke particles with a red laser.
I am still not sure how to proceed if somebody asks me to explain Haseeb Ahmed’s artistic practice to him/her. I’ll start by a list of what I have seen yesterday at The Wind Egg in the VKI:
An African vulture, several wind-tunnels of this amazing NATO research facility, actors playing scientists, scientists playing actors, a group of people coming from all Europe going by bus to the event and returning to Brussels afterwards, a drone, plaster and thermoplastic models of intriguing “wind-eggs” – said to be fertilized by the wind, the model of a single-sperm gold nano-container that will be dropped in the Earth’s atmosphere by a robotic arm of the International Space Station, an array of speakers that was creating an acoustic vortex, electronic vulture eggs, a miniature version of Boccioni’s Forme uniche della continuità nello spazio in the biggest low-speed Belgium’s wind tunnel, a rather complex wind-egg aerial fertilization protocol using aeroacoustic waves sent into the wind flow by Marc Matter from a LP disk player. The sound of the experiment, recorded by a microphone inside of the egg, mimicked a heartbeat…
Haseeb worked 3 years with the VKI to build this unidentified object
The conclusion of this 30 min (?) guided tour that took place at the VKI in Rhode Saint-Genèse yesterday was an experiment where Haseeb’s friend Piero Pisello was exposing the wind to some visual stimuli using a computer display. The wind was supposedly reacting – a delta-wing that generates two beautiful quasi-symmetrical vortex was creating a wind’s “face” that had basic feelings (see Haseeb’s poster at the top of the page for more details). We even learned that since it fertilizes wind eggs, the face of the wind that we were observing was a masculine one. Quite an amazing experience, really, very very intriguing. A truly unidentified artistic object.