Idris Khan

by Adam Fuss

Idris Khan, Rising Series . . . After Eadweard Muybridge "Human and Animal Locomotion," 2005, five platinum prints, each 20 × 16 inches. All images courtesy of the artist and Victoria Miro Gallery, London.

There’s an inherent failure in all traditional art media; while lives and time appear to move and change, an artwork remains forever a prisoner of its own birth time, and our subsequent need to preserve and consume it. This failure of the work to "live"—to participate in the movement of life other than in a corpse-like silence—is nowhere more apparent than in the venerated icons of culture. Their mute and deathlike stillness is only further emphasized by our need to reproduce them ad-infinitum. There’s no denying that works of inspiration, revelation, and immeasurable craft are a treasure trove of human inheritance; but it’s the mere reproductions of these masterpieces that are stuffed into young minds in every art history class.

Idris Khan, Every . . . Page of The Holy Quran, 2004, Lambda Digital C print mounted on aluminum, 53½ x 67 inches.

Khan as an artist challenges the role of photography in this charade. His work liberates the photographic medium from its role as cynical handmaiden. His pose is simultaneously conservative and radical, Apollonian and Dionysian through its success in using the photographic medium’s technical capacity to effectively rediscover its poetic and mysterious other face. Perhaps it’s only in this kind of repetitive, self-reflective stance that another less apparent truth can arise, that which is simultaneously rooted in past and present with equal balance.


—Adam Fuss


Idris Khan, Every . . . Bernd and Hilla Becher Prison Type Gasholder, 2004, Lambda Digital C print mounted on aluminum, 80 × 65 inches.

Idris Khan, Every . . . Bernd and Hilla Becher Spherical Type Gasholder, one panel triptych, 2003, Lambda Digital C print mounted on aluminum, 20½ x 26½ inches.

Every . . . Stave of Frederick Chopin’s Nocturnes for the Piano, 2004, lamda digital c-print mounted on aluminum, 35 x 110 inches.

Multiple exposure
manipulated photographs
BOMB 101
Fall 2007
The cover of BOMB 101