In 1951, Twentieth Century-Fox released Robert Wise’s film The Day the Earth Stood Still, which follows an alien’s mission to warn humans about impending danger. The science-fiction classic, which was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry in 1995, is now the inspiration for an upcoming installation at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden.
Designed by Pakistani-American artist Huma Bhabha, in consultation with the museum’s Modern and Contemporary Art department, the work, titled “We Come in Peace,” features two sculptures: a 12-foot-tall, five-headed being that shares the installation’s name, and an 18-foot-long figure called Benaam, which means “without name” in Urdu. The sculptures—which Bhabha first handcrafted from cork, Styrofoam, air-dried clay, and plastic, then cast in bronze—are positioned facing each other, to give visitors the sense of an unexpected arrival. They reflect the themes of survival and displacement, which have long been prominent in Bhabha’s art.
Bhabha, who graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design and Columbia University, has had exhibitions of her sculpture at MoMA PS1, the Venice Biennale, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. The artist won the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum Emerging Artist Award in 2008 and the Berlin Prize Fellowship at the American Academy in Berlin in 2013.
“We Come in Peace” will be on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden from April 17 to October 28.