Upcoming BAM exhibition by Satpreet Kahlon presents a compelling exploration of memory and the body

September 07, 2023


September 7, 2023

Contact: Priyanka Parmanand

Phone: 425.519.0755

[email protected]

Satpreet Kahlon: the inscrutable shape of longing is on view at Bellevue Arts Museum September 23 – December 31, 2023.

Bellevue, WA— Bellevue Arts Museum (BAM) is thrilled to announce its upcoming exhibition, Satpreet Kahlon: the inscrutable shape of longing. This exhibition is organized by the Bellevue Arts Museum and guest curated by David Strand. In a compelling exploration of memory and the body, artist Satpreet Kahlon unveils a deeply personal and thought-provoking, site-specific, multi-sensory installation.

In her work, Satpreet Kahlon explores the messiness, contradictions, and nuances of inhabiting a body shaped by one’s lived experience as well as one’s cultural and ancestral history. Kahlon was born in Bhagowal near the Pakistani border and raised in the United States. As a child of the Panjabi diaspora, Kahlon’s familial history is deeply intertwined with the precarious aftermath of colonization and geographic displacement. As writer and academic Saidiya Hartman writes, "the loss of stories sharpens the hunger for them." To explore these personal histories and how they have come to bear, Kahlon has built an immersive installation that delves into what has been lost while cultivating the possibility for healing and solace.

The installation is a constellation of sculpture, video, image, poetry, sound, and salvaged materials. The central body of the installation is a web-like net woven with found materials, from scraps of wood and cardboard to childhood photographs and objects to Panjabi textiles, jewelry, and beads. Each of these elements carries its own history and range of associations that reflects Kahlon’s bodily experience and history. The suite of videos projected over this hanging web includes archival footage of rural Panjabi

folk rituals that display celebratory and playful expressions of gender fluidity. These images are contrasted with others across the exhibition that are mired in silence, repression, and harm. Together, these fragments begin to form a larger whole—what could be understood as a nervous system excavated from the artist’s body and the many memories, impulses, triggers, desires, and experiences that body holds.

From this splintered array of images, sounds, and objects, Kahlon conjures a contemplative atmosphere for viewers to consider their own ancestral history, memories, and voids. How does trauma, displacement, and abuse live alongside kinship, adornment, and joy? How do these forces shape a person’s body and health? What should be shared and what needs to be protected? This exhibition is an invitation to sit with personal and collective loss, to move beyond the façade and into the body, to face the void, and uncover new sources of nourishment. This exhibition promises a unique opportunity to engage with contemporary art that transcends boundaries and touches the core of the human experience.

Satpreet Kahlon: the inscrutable shape of longing is organized by the Bellevue Arts Museum and guest curated by David Strand. Bellevue Arts Museum is generously supported by its donors and members. Exhibition Season Sponsors: Microsoft, 4Culture, Rebecca A. Lyman in honor of her mother Eloise B. Armen, Laura Dillaway, ArtsWA, City of Bellevue, Cathay Bank, Puget Sound Energy, and ArtsFund. Media Partners: The Seattle Times, and KCTS 9.

Featured Art by Satpreet Kahlon: (detail) from all of us, 2023; (detail) juxtaposition of two unlikely formal inclinations, 2023; the inscrutable shape of longing (in progress), 2023; Images: Courtesy of the artist.



Satpreet Kahlon is a Panjabi-born artist, organizer, and educator based on Coast Salish territories. Kahlon earned her MFA in Sculpture at the Rhode Island School of Design in 2019. Her practice has been supported by The Rauschenberg Foundation, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Critical Minded, Vermont Studio Center, the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art, the RISD Museum, 4Culture, Henry Art Gallery, the Magnum Foundation, Brown University, the Chihuly Museum, Wing Luke Museum, the Neddy Award, and others. Satpreet Kahlon was the winner of the 2021 BAM Biennial: Architecture & Urban Design Award of Excellence. This award comes with the opportunity to present a solo exhibition at BAM.



The mission of the Bellevue Arts Museum is Engaging people in the power of art, craft and design. bellevuearts.org