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We Come in Peace

We Come in Peace
Hyla Skopitz / The Metropolitan Museum of Art

For nearly seventy years, since the opening of the 1951 science-fiction film The Day the Earth Stood Still, the phrase “we come in peace” has signified a particular kind of tentative diplomacy. Pakistani-born sculptor Huma Bhabha ’89SOA mirrors that uneasy moment of first contact in a site-specific installation on the roof of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. In Bhabha’s imagination, the museum becomes a landing pad, where two strangers — one dominant, the other subservient — confront each other. The sculptures, made from a variety of found materials, such as cork, Styrofoam, and clay, and then cast in bronze, may inspire sober reflection, but Bhabha invites all interpretations. “If they wish, viewers can make up their own story,” Bhabha said recently. “My objective is to give life, personality, and power to the sculptures, so they become something or someone.” We Come in Peace is on view through the end of October.