Dialogues in Contemporary Art

with Leeza Ahmady and Mariam Ghani

Tuesday 08 May, 2012
7 - 8:30pm, $0/Rsvp

ICI Curatorial Hub
401 Broadway, Suite 1620


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 seventy-one 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 artistic 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.
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