Iftikhar Dadi and Elizabeth Dadi: Efflorescence

AAP Exhibitions and Events

The nation-state forms the most important and universally recognized form of sovereignty in the world today. However, as distinguished scholar and Cornell faculty member Benedict Anderson had recognized, imagination plays a central role in how individuals cognize the nation. Nation-states ascribe various forms of pageantry exclusive to themselves in order to express their singularity. Among other emblems, flowers have also become specific national symbols, even though they grow over a wide geographic range, and can truly be characterized as "contested botanicals."

The Dadis' Efflorescence series is inspired by the strangeness of this attribution. The word denotes the blooming of a flower and the flowering of a culture or a civilization. Other connotations include the positive sense of glowing and being lit, but the word also has negative valences, such as the manifestation of a stain or discoloration. This doubled sense of the word provides an evocative title for this series, which focuses specifically on the national flowers of contested regions. Inspired by popular commercial signage and created as large neon and incandescent works in metal, the works jump scale in their materiality and dimensions. Their graphical form and their industrial artifice acknowledge the manner in which such delicate natural forms are institutionally deployed as fixed emblems to vindicate intangible claims of identity.

Iftikhar Dadi and Elizabeth Dadi have collaborated in their art practice for 20 years. Their work investigates the salience of popular media in the construction of memory, borders, and identity in contemporary globalization, and the potential of creative resilience in urban informalities. Their work is frequently realized in large-scale installations and has been exhibited internationally, including in the 24th Bienal de São Paulo, Brazil; Third Asia-Pacific Triennial, Brisbane, Australia; Liverpool Biennial, Tate Liverpool; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Miami Art Museum; Queens Museum of Art, New York; and Whitechapel Gallery, London. Iftikhar Dadi received his Ph.D. from Cornell. He is an associate professor in the Department of History of Art, and also served as chair of the Department of Art (2010–14). Elizabeth Dadi received her B.F.A. from San Francisco Art Institute.