Aman Mojadidi — Good-bye Homeland
Past: October 24 → November 2, 2011
After 8 years of living and working in Afghanistan, the artist will move out of Kabul. His search for cultural adventure, understanding ancestral roots, and helping a country rebuild after decades of continuing conflict has left him with more questions than answers about his own identity, and a smoldering frustration at the international aid & development machine of which Afghanistan has become merely a rusted piece.
The works in this show are a reflection upon his years in Afghanistan.
The show is his farewell to living in the country.
1. Conflict Chic
In many ways, Afghanistan has become, and continues to be, the premeire conflict zone in the world. The protracted war and the aid/development enterprise that has flourished there for over a decade have become chic. From neo-traditional couture donned by expatriates at any variety of dinners, parties, or cultural events, to the range of films (documentary and fiction) under production and filmed both in and out of Afghanistan, to the flurry of interest in artistic and cultural activities by the press, to the progressively lauded dialogues on Draw-Down, Transition and Reconciliation. Afghanistan is THE conflict place to be.
The piece is a fashion line befitting of the insurgent or soldier who stands in the spotlight upon a world stage. For the soldier, a genuine fur-collared and fur-accented Flak Jacket and for the insurgent, a neo-classic chapan vest with 10 internal pockets and an undershirt with frontal pocket for a bulletproof plate.
2. Afghan by Blood, Redneck by the Grace of God
It took growing up in the Southern United States to make the artist feel Afghan, while living in Afghanistan for the last 8 years has left him feeling his southern ties.
The piece is an interactive, mise-en-scene photo series playing upon an extreme stereotype related to an environment, culture, and history whose influence he has largely tried to ignore, and yet has continued to shape his attitudes, perceptions, and underdstandings of the world.
It is also a creative collaboration with Italian photographer Lorenzo Tugnoli.
3. 5 Easy Steps to Paradise
Common in development jargon is “Incentive” as a means to encourage local participation in projects. Suicide bombers might also be enticed with an Incentive. When broken down to its core elements, becoming radicalized as a suicide bomber and reaping its rewards is actually quite simple. And the incentive is impressive.
The piece is a mixed-media installation using 5 neon-light words to highlight the path to paradise while other materials from a desk and laptop to dolls to rubber tires help complete the journey.
The piece is a critique upon the the development behemoth Afghanistan has become, and the ways in which the problems and inadequacies of the system have an historical reference in terms of attitudes and ideologies that might inspire it; fueling the machine with an endless energy source in the form of Western experts and advisors.
It is a polyurethane wheelbarrow installed on the wall (barrow out), fashioned after the standard wheelbarrow found in Afghanistan, with the Dari script asking “What is your burden?” in the “face,” and the text from Kipling’s poem and a definition of White Man’s Burden (both below) will be printed as Stencil Stickers and put on the wall around/next to the wheelbarrow. I’m not sure of the exact size of the font, but the text should be large, filling significant space on the wall.
White Man’s Burden — There are two predominant interpretations of the phrase. One view is the philanthropic view, common in Kipling’s formative years, that the rich have a moral duty and obligation to help “the poor” “better” themselves whether the poor want the help or not.
An alternative view is that white people consequently have an obligation to rule over, and encourage the cultural development of people from other ethnic and cultural backgrounds until they can take their place in the world by fully adopting Western ways.
The term “the white man’s burden” has been interpreted as racist, or taken as a metaphor for a condescending view of non-Western national culture and economic traditions, identified as a sense of European ascendancy, which has been called “cultural imperialism”.
5. Letters from Home
The security risks faced in Afghanistan, real and/or imagined, are a constant presence in one’s daily life. The security warnings released by the United States Embassy reflect perhaps some of the most extreme responses to the paranoic need for information on security issues.
These mass-distributed, almost-Orwellian “Warden Messages” and “Security Announcements,” sometimes received several times in a single day, were selected for over a year and rewritten as personal, concerned, and loving letters between a woman and her loved one.
They are read and recorded so that the recording is played in a darkened room while selected text of the letters flashes on the wall.
6. Timeline: The Making & Breaking of…
Recollecting racist, suspicious, and discriminatory statements made to him over the course of his life, the artist explores the connection between one’s identity being shaped by others and the possibility of radicalization, while simultaneously breaking down the foundation for one of the most prevalent stereotypes in the world today.
A mixed-media installation comprised of adhesive stencils, trash bins, and disposable razors.
Opening Tuesday, October 25, 2011 9 PM → 6 PM
9, place des Vosges — 10, rue de Turenne
T. 01 42 78 21 00 — F. 01 42 78 86 73
Monday – Friday, 1 PM – 6 PM
Other times by appointment