Professor Naeem Mohaiemen in Solo Show at The Gund

Mădălina Telea Borteș
April 26, 2024

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Associate Professor of Visual Arts Naeem Mohaiemen (GSAS '19) created two works, Wooster Street and Karen’s Last Books (Ibsen to Nguyen), both of which are featured in The Light at the End of the Tunnel, a solo show on view at Kenyon College’s teaching museum, The Gund. The multimedia works, which Mohaiemen created independently of one another, “serve as tributes recounting the creative and social lives of Judith Blum Reddy and Karen Wentworth,” two artists who “turn to art to document their life journeys,” the exhibition’s press release explains.

In Wooster Street Mohaiemen draws focus to New York’s Fluxus and Soho art scenes, borne of two interconnected art movements originating in the 1960s and 1970s respectively. 

Wooster Street is an afternoon conversation between Naeem and Judy Blum of the remaining original residents of the Wooster Street artist-run coops,” Mohaiemen explained. The resulting work culminated into a video-based installation art piece that features “home movies filmed by Judy’s father, Bruno Blum, between 1945 and 1970.”

Also present in The Light at the End of the Tunnel are ten framed pieces from Karen’s Last Books (Ibsen to Nguyen), which take the form of individually rendered book covers on the left hand side, a quoted extract, and a series of prose fragments on the side opposite the illustration. These are the books Wentworth, a photographer from Maine who Mohaiemen featured in Grace—an interdisciplinary show hosted at Colby College’s Museum of Art—chose to read in the time before her death. While the list of ten books is diverse in scope—Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air, a memoir about the medic’s own death, is included alongside the poet and novelist Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous—they are unified by a specific sensibility: a critical eye turned toward the world and oneself.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel is on view and open to the public until May 18, 2024. 

Naeem Mohaiemen was born in London in 1969, and grew up in Tripoli, Libya, and Dhaka, Bangladesh. He combines photography, films, archives, and essays to research the many forms of utopia-dystopia (families, borders, architecture, and uprisings). He holds a PhD in anthropology from Columbia University, where he is Associate Professor of Visual Arts. Mohaiemen’s work is in the permanent collections of MoMA, Tate Modern, MACBA, Van Abbemuseum, Art Institute of Chicago, Sharjah Art Foundation, Singapore Art Museum, and Kiran Nadar Museum.