Mariam & Ashraf Ghani
Afghanistan: A Lexicon
Prints from dOCUMENTA(13) “100 Notes - 100 Thoughts”
In collaboration with AhmadyArts
With Independent Curators International (ICI) and ARTonAIR.org, independent curator Leeza Ahmady conducts interviews with artists, curators, critics and experts working across the broad field of contemporary art. The program will address the role of artists, curators and other art professionals in an increasingly borderless world, investigating the ways in which artistic practices, curatorial strategies and critical commentary have been reconfigured by intensified patterns of global circulation. Rapid advancements in technology have led to increased access to information and the exchange and promotion of new ideas across nations and cultures, regardless of geographic location. Ahmady and her guests examine the effects of these sweeping transformations on art practice as attention is directed away from traditional centers of gravity in Europe and the US toward regions that were previously dismissed as peripheral.
Dialogues in Contemporary Art: Take 2
Tuesday, May 8
Mariam Ghani and Leeza Ahmady speak about their contributions to the dOCUMENTA(13) “100 Notes – 100 Thoughts” notebook series, and share their perspectives on the recent influx of international art activities in Kabul, Afghanistan. This event will also launch Ghani and Ahmady’s notebooks in New York.
Mariam Ghani’s notebook, Afghanistan: A Lexicon, was co-authored with her father, the anthropologist and political scientist Ashraf Ghani. The notebook uses the form of a lexicon to construct a non-linear and somewhat speculative history of 20th-century Afghanistan, with an emphasis on recurrences, continuities and spatial politics. The lexicon includes definitions for 71 terms, most of which are illustrated with archival or original images. The terms include names of central figures and places (Arg, Daoud), words that carry a specific (political) meaning in the Afghan context (bi-tarafi, jirga) and recurring events or defining themes (exile, invasion, loss). The notebook’s point of departure is a detailed reflection on the reign of King Amanullah (1919–29), whose successes and failures set the pattern for the cycle of repeated reforms, collapses and recoveries that Afghanistan would undergo throughout the 20th century. The notebook also considers, from several different angles, the Dar ul-Aman Palace, which was part of Amanullah’s design for an idealized “new city,” and which looms large over past and present-day Afghanistan—as a space of exception, a center of conflict, an unfinished prototype for future plans and a ruined symbol of past failures.
Ahmady’s notebook focuses on Vyacheslav Akhunov, an artist who has been actively conceptualizing and producing artworks in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, since the early 1970s. Though his oeuvre spans many media, Ahmady hones in on Akhunov’s vast archive of personal notebooks containing some 3,000 pages of drawings and text recorded between 1974 and 2000. As he was often unable to realize physical art projects during the strict Soviet Regime, these notebooks became Akhunov’s primary mode of unrestrained expression, invention, critique and exploration. Ahmady’s dOCUMENTA(13) contribution contextualizes and shares excerpts from this massive index of one artist’s unrelenting creative momentum for the first time in an international forum.Past Event
Dialogues in Contemporary Art: Take 1
Tuesday, March 13
Hitomi Iwasaki, Curator and Director of Exhibitions at Queens Museum of Art, and Herb Tam, Curator and Director of Exhibitions at the Museum of Chinese in America, speak with Leeza Ahmady about their research on the presence of Asia in Caribbean culture and art. Inspired by the occasion of the upcoming exhibition, Caribbean: Crossroads of the World (June 2012), Tam and Iwasaki set out to address the significant void of Asian cultural traces in the region.
The exhibition, which will span 3 venues in New York City, examines the visual arts and aesthetic development across the Caribbean, considering the histories of the Spanish, French, Dutch and English islands and their Diasporas. As a highly globalized region that has been consistently shaped by multiple paths of migration since European colonization in the 15th century and the transatlantic slave trade, the Caribbean is often portrayed as the ultimate symbol of “modernity” and globalization. However, not all of the multiple interrelations have received equal attention. What was seemingly an innocuous simple task of detecting Asian cultures in the New World turned out to be something entirely different. Too subtle is the yellow tint under the dominant shade of black…
DCA series is part of an ongoing effort by AhmadyArts to disseminate broader, more thorough knowledge of art communities and artists’ activities both inside and outside of Asia. The program will include select recordings of conversations, talks and panel discussions presented at the Curatorial Hub.
All DCA events will be recorded and made available for public access through ARTonAIR.org. As an online radio station and cultural archive, they play host to 5,000 hours of diverse, indexed content consisting of non-commercial music, audio art, spoken word, cultural news, history and dialogue, and new media innovation.