Mariam & Ashraf Ghani
Afghanistan: A Lexicon
Prints from dOCUMENTA(13) “100 Notes - 100 Thoughts”

In collaboration with AhmadyArts

With Independent Curators International (ICI) and, 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
7–8:30 pm

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
7-8:30 pm

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…

This event is free and open to the public, though seating is limited. Please RSVP to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) with “DCA Take 2” in the subject field. For more information, please contact Chelsea Haines at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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  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.
Art on Air            artnet

May 8, 2012

The Curatorial Hub at ICI
401 Broadway, Suite 1620
New York, NY 10013
7–8:30 pm

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Leeza Ahmady

Born in Afghanistan and based in New York, Leeza Ahmady is an independent curator, the Director of Asian Contemporary Art Week (ACAW), and dOCUMENTA(13) Agent. Ahmady has traveled widely in Central Asia, presenting the largely unknown artists of the region in international art forums such as the Venice Biennale, Istanbul Biennial, and Asia Art Archive in Hong Kong. She directs Asian Contemporary Art Week (ACAW), an annual event initiated by the Asia Society, New York, comprising a series of special exhibitions, lectures, and performances at leading city museums and galleries. Ahmady’s efforts in complicating categorical notions about Asia have resulted in an expanded list of participating artists, and a broad consortium of venues that support the initiative, such as the Guggenheim Museum and the Museum of Modern Art.

Mariam Ghani

Mariam Ghani is a Brooklyn-based artist whose research-based practice examines places, spaces and moments where social and political structures take on visible and tangible forms. Some projects, such as Kabul: Partial Reconstructions (2002-07) and Index of the Disappeared (2004-ongoing), span multiple years and disciplines. Ghani’s work in video and installation has been screened and exhibited internationally, at venues including MoMA, NYC (2011), the Sharjah Biennials 9 and 10 (2011, 2009), the Beijing 798 Biennial (2009), the National Gallery, Washington DC (2008), the Tate Modern, London (2007), d/Art, Sydney (2006), Futura, Prague (2005), the Liverpool Biennial (2004), and transmediale, Berlin (2003). Her public and participatory projects have been commissioned by Creative Time in New York, VFC in Berlin and Amsterdam, CEPA in Buffalo, the Arab American National Museum in Detroit, and Turbulence, Longwood and artwurl online. Her critical writing has been featured in Filmmaker, FUSE, Pavilion, Viralnet, the Journal of Aesthetics + Protest, and the Radical History Review. She has been awarded the NYFA and Soros Fellowships, grants from the Graham Foundation, CEC ArtsLink, the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation and the Experimental Television Center, and residencies at LMCC, Eyebeam Atelier, Smack Mellon, and the Akademie Schloss Solitude. She has a B.A. in Comparative Literature from NYU and an MFA in Photography, Video + Related Media from SVA, and has taught at Cooper Union and NYU.

Hitomi Iwasaki

Hitomi Iwasaki is the Director of Exhibitions and Curator at the Queens Museum of Art. She has been a core member of curatorial team of the exhibition Caribbean: Crossroads of the World, joint effort among three New York institutions, El Museo del Barrio, The Studio Museum in Harlem and the Queens Museum of Art. Scheduled to open in June 2012, the exhibition will offer a compelling and dramatic exploration of the Caribbean and its diaspora from the Haitian Revolution to the present. Over a decade at the Queens Museum she has been working on project based exhibitions with diverse body of artists including Duke Riley, Daniel Bozhkov, O Zhang, Johanna Unzueta, and Terrence Gower among others. Iwasaki is now in preparation for the museum’s new phase with a newly expanded 100,000 square feet facility opening in 2014 with several exhibitions including “Eye Wonder,” commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Panorama of the City of New York and exploring human desire to see.

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