Two sculptures interact, the first a 12 foot tall totemic figure. It is a looming, sour faced, battle scarred, gender ambiguous alien of a figure. The materials are rough, hand sculpted by Bhaba herself. It seems to exert power over the second sculpture, a figure bent forward with arms extended towards the first, covered in a garment likened to a garbage bag. This second sculpture is called “Benaam”, the Urdu word for “unnamed”.
This second sculpture taps into America’s fear of Islam, as its posture echoes the traditional Muslim ‘sujood’ position, an act of worshipping Allah with knees and head touching the ground. The first sculpture seems to demand complete dominance from the first. Perhaps this is a symbol of America’s need to dominate in world affairs, specifically in the Islamic world.
These two sculptures elicit a reaction of fear, lack of understanding, ‘otherness’, perhaps also referencing our sci-fi fear of aliens attacking and taking over humanity. “It’s an anti-war narrative. It’s about a dead body… but it’s not necessarily dead, either,” Bhabha explains in an interview for the Met exhibition catalogue. She continues that "the potential for rebirth" also exists, leaving the audience with a glimmer of hope for change.