'Honey, I Invited The Infinite': Amin Gulgee's Micro-Universe

'Honey, I Invited The Infinite': Amin Gulgee's Micro-Universe
A mind dungeon, a spiritual temple that throbs between the repetition of rubab sounds and the smell of spice.

The pathway that is created by Amin’s micro-universe is in perpetual construction. Like opening a door within a door within a door within a door within a door within a door. Amin’s works carry an insistent creative energy that remains active even when the works are presented as finished; an inexplicable feeling of aliveness and constant reproduction, a kind of autonomy. A circle that is almost complete, and instead of closing, shifts to another level of loop, creating a sort of meta-spiral that at moments becomes tight and at moments grows wide.

The videos that announce the entrance, one on each side of the doors, are the beginning of the spiral. It starts with the Q Rickshaw; a journey through Karachi on Amin’s rickshaw: the sculpture-vehicle that, even in the over-stimulated streets, attracts attention for its eccentricity and playfulness. It is made of metal and mirrors, which reflect parts of the buildings, trees and other rickshaws on the way, reproducing and multiplying the city itself.

Amin’s mobile sculpture sublimates the medium of transportation and makes it an architectural stage for different 'characters,' no less flamboyant, to perform on it. The people that experience the live performance, can recognize the known object and the novelty of it, as an aesthetic experience. It is a carnivalesque shift from the everyday, a joy and a ludic expression that introduces us to the multidimensions of Amin’s work. The range of subject matter and ways of making are incredible; as we go from celebration and humour, to the deep and solemn. The video on the right side of the welcoming space, Healing II, shows a cathartic ritual on Amin’s rooftop, in Clifton, Karachi.
The spiral goes the deepest when creatures emerge from the territory of the loop. The space provides for the creatures to exist and communicate between themselves. The audience is stuck in what seems to be an “art exhibition” at first; a universe without delimitation afterwards. This world requires bravery

During the performance, several things happen at the same time; a sense of collective mitigation and curative actions in a spiritual sacred act. There is also the fatal possibility of danger; as the stage becomes higher and steeper, the sculptures become spikier. Amin’s body is painted, shaved, poured, stained, touched; sacrificed. The cure converses with loss and rupture in this touching performance. The setting is as important as the actions; Amin’s rooftop feels like an oasis, a strange shelter built from old bottles, metal, mirrors, and sculptures. I had the pleasure myself to experience the space; the metal structures like branches, conversing with the big trees. The saturation of colours and forms, creates a strong energy that collides and feeds from the city; buildings, cheels (black kites), sun, sky, and of course, a lot of sound. The rooftop is high and it can be seen from other buildings, which generates a tension between the intimate and the public.

I can't help but make the interpretation that Karachi is where the spiral starts curving, and we, experiencing the whole, are transported to that specific setting even before we enter the 'main' exhibition space.

The sculptural works by themselves are subjects of a threaded repetition. The phrase “God taught humanity what they knew not” (Quran, 96:5) is being used, decomposed and reconstructed again and again. The exploration is vast in forms and approaches. The initial meaning of the letters persists while more levels substitute the literacy of it, making a complex mesh, visually, physically and conceptually. We see hands that are stiffened on a wall of mesh, we see a Nonbinary Cube, as a riddle that almost breaks the laws of physics. All of these pieces irradiate, they slide up and down within their verticality, through the sheen and roughness of the copper. The spiral expands wherever the eye is placed. The pieces have an aura that grows with energy and predominance, until becoming gigantic, and almost sacred. The majesty of each work is magnified with the three installations, three milky ways.

The first installation presents a cross of haldi (turmeric) dividing a garden of dry copper leaves, placed in mirrors. There is a certain dramatism of this first view, a sort of mausoleum, a strange grave of colour and stillness. Each fallen leaf is shown bigger, thicker, rougher. And with the reflection underneath, it will never complete its circular cycle, as there is no ground to be dissolved, just infinity and the smell of haldi. The yellow cross is like a pathway you are invited to walk, if brave enough.

“Liminal letters” is a spiral of itself. It moves and breathes within the whole space. It feels as if it is the biggest monster in the room, as a big-toothed door, a mouth that speaketh in tongues we cannot yet understand. The atmosphere becomes light, and gravity is from the other dimension. The cavity has a defined physical limit. You can transgress and linger with vertigo, or run away.

The third installation is a play of the horizontal and the vertical. The floor is a desert of turmeric and chilli, which enters the body not just through the eyes but also through the nose; the smell is an experience in itself. The letters are placed one besides the other, resting in space as fallen leaves of the calligraphic totem-tree; the impossible decomposition again.

The shadows are everywhere, working as a parallel form/universe/organism that speaks in a different language. They are not still, they push each other, invasively. Sometimes the world of shadows stain the audience, ensnaring them.

As if light is coming out of the copper, and the copper is light, the sculptural magnets reverberate as stars of energy- light and shadow dance and make a complex intertwinement.

The infinite is called upon.

The spiral goes the deepest when creatures emerge from the territory of the loop. The space provides for the creatures to exist and communicate between themselves. The audience is stuck in what seems to be an “art exhibition” at first; a universe without delimitation afterwards. This world requires bravery, in the sense of being overwhelmed by the dominant, demanding experience of constantly seeing, smelling and feeling. The repetitive mind has the echo of a spiderweb.

Dominique as the guard of the immense portal; Hassan between sex, sorrow and punishment; Sofía y Sofía haciendo el amor, frantically, enjoying the Infinity Egg. Anene’s alliteration of sexual meaning; Amin’s oral actions of holding an egg in his mouth and excreting delicious vapour while appropriating the space, covered in haldi. Sam, the Christ-like figure, covering himself in a shower of colour in the entrance, as if he found a place to do it away from the chaos. Shalaka’s dance around the space like a golden figurine revived. Bryan’s presence as a medieval executioner, understanding his dominance. Keny and his magnificent chant when sudden connections happen; Mallory’s animalistic yet spiritual tranquillity and camouflage, combining with the installation. Ashwaty’s distorted dances of the underworld warrior; Amaya existing, a decadent creature that, with pleasure, sometimes dances and sometimes remains still. Danos’ soft, persistent moves, back and forth around the entrance; The Trilogy making a healing adjustment to the body, while embellishing copper calligraphy with bling. This is observed by the spiderwoman, walking through the space covered in paper maché and golden leaves, touching her prey, as she sings impossible vibrations until they die, becoming hers.

The strangeness, the outsiders, the ones that live in another space – they managed to go out, or perhaps we managed to go inside their world, for 77 minutes. Everything made sense in its bizarreness and rawness. As the portal allows them to come in, they come out. And the space keeps the resonant energy of what happened, and embodies the possibility of it happening again, even tacitly. Unending, interminable.