A Journey Through Bui-Bui, Lifting the Purdah of Mal-Illumination

Museum of Fine Arts, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 1999
Click to Enlarge Constructed walls with mashriya screens, hydrocal plaster life-casts (figures), black crepe, dichromate holograms on glass, 18’ dia. dichromate holographic optical elements (HOE’s) in glass bowls, resin, fiber optics, translucent fabric, solar cells, slate boxes, glass bowls, halogen lights.    

2000 sq ft (185,80 m2) installation, composed of three large rooms, a window opening to daylight, and life size figures. 

Addressing the mysterious path of sunlights role within the human organism, this installation has its roots in MacArthur's childhood in Pakistan and Afghanistan where  the veil was indelibly imprinted into her visual field.   This work employs the veil covering the female body (purdah) as a metaphor for light not being able to enter the human organism,.  It was an urge to explore the psychological and physiological depth of the significance of sunlight to the human body.   Nine life cast figures articulate various psychological states reflective of the absence or presence of light.  A layering of images and materials explore the biological doorways.  An interior room has three figures receiving a specific color of light into the eyes.  The source of these specific frequencies of light are from three different glass bowls resting on the floor, each with a large holographic optical element inside. Each of these holograms were made from a lensing system making the resultant hologram a prism bending the light back at a specific angle and in specific frequencies.  The bowls fluidly transport light versus water.   Exhibited 1 1/2 years prior to the event of 9/11, this work has since taken on a new relevance. This was a technically extensive exhibit to produce and was supported by a generous grant from the Museum of Fine Arts.