‘Conflict Chic’ by Amanullah Mojadidi. Photo courtesy of the artist.
‘Conflict Chic’ by Amanullah Mojadidi. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Nationality, identity, and art

In conversation with Afghan-American artist Aman Mojadidi.

(This is an interview from our March 2014 print quarterly, 'Reclaiming Afghanistan'. See more from the issue here.)

Contemporary creative practices can provide a microcosmic perspective on larger geopolitical dynamics. In a country like Afghanistan, cultural activities could become a lens through which to analyse the potentials and shortcomings of development as well as their short and long-term consequences. In the following conversation, Aman Mojadidi and I analyse the role that contemporary art and cultural practices can play in the current phase of political transition. We reflect on the role that foreign artists and international donors play in shaping the artistic community in Kabul, and on the complex meaning and interpretation of public space in relation to the growth of civil society.

Aman Mojadidi is an Afghan-American artist who refers to himself as "Afghan by blood, redneck by the grace of God, and a radically politicised artist." His work springs from a combination of ethno-anthropological studies, do-it-yourself, and the aesthetics of found objects, and tackles questions of identity and representation in a sarcastic and (self) ironic manner. The internal violence and corruption that undermine the foundations of a country in transformation like Afghanistan occupy a pivotal position in the development of his work.

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Himal Southasian