Starting with this post we dedicate our reviews to artworks that impressed us in Kassel’s quinquennial art exhibition dOCUMENTA 13, directed, this year, by Italian and American writer, art historian and curator Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev.
Mariam Ghani is a young artist living in Brooklyn and Kabul.
Her work encompasses videos, photographs, installations, publications and websites, and investigates spatial and temporal “border zones” (post-conflict reconstructions, immigration laws, edges between natural e constructed landscapes). She prefers operating through several physical and metaphoric layers of human interventions rather than political abstractions.
“Kabul: Partial Reconstructions” (2002-07) explores the meanings of “reconstruction” of the context of post-invasion Kabul, from different perspectives.
“Performed Places” (2004-ongoing) is a series of videos and sound installations aiming at the activation of intrinsecal qualities of places through the collaboration with composers and choreographers.
One of them is “A Brief History of Collapses” / also here (2011-12), a two channels video that portrays two buildings sharing significant parallels, particularly for their symbolic roles within their contexts. Although built in different centuries, the Fridericianum (constructed in 1779 in Kassel) and the Dar Ul-Aman Palace (built in 1929, in Kabul) are very similar in their architectural styles. Landmarks for modernity and enlightement values at the time of their construction, they became a symbol for the fall of civilization after the destruction operated during war.
Whereas the Fridericianum became a monument for the reconstruction of post-war Germany, the Afghan building is still a ruin.
The video is a tale of the two buildings, staged as a journey through their interiors, with choreographed movements of the camera and a voice-over narration interweaving historical facts with myths and speculation.
(This work is on show in the Fridericianum building in Kassel)
Comparative photographs: Dar ul-Aman 2010 / Fridericianum 1943
Dar ul-Aman in the 1940s
diagram: story map, prepared during voiceover script research
Afghanistan: A Lexicon, a brief non-linear history of 20th-century Afghanistan, written in collaboration with anthropologist Ashraf Ghani
video stills – Dar ul-Aman (22 MB pdf)
video stills – Fridericianum (21 MB pdf)
Following is a set of photographs comparing the Dar ul-Aman palace in 2010 to Fridericianum in 1943: