Khadim Ali to show at Sharjah Biennial 14: Leaving the Echo Chamber curated by Zoe Butt, Omar Kholeif & Claire Tancons
As one of the persecuted Hazara people of Afghanistan, Khadim Ali explores the symbols, characters, language and image-making defined and redefined across the history of his culture of origin.
His SB14 project, Flowers of Evil (2019), features a mural and installation at Emirates Fine Arts Society that address weapons and their symbolic social weight.
A presentation at Sharjah Art Museum examines the normalisation of violence in Afghanistan today through education, propaganda, protest and material culture.
The work contemplates the exploitation of faith and charity as social agent and political influence. In the twentieth century, religious texts such as the Shahnameh — authored in Mahmoud Ghaznavi’s court (971–1030) to motivate his warriors — have been used to legitimise acts of violence.
For example, the Taliban claim Shahnameh hero Rustam as their own, calling themselves the ‘Rustam of Islam’. Western aid agencies open schools that teach political violence as revolutionary acts, while Afghans displaced by the Soviet Union and later the United States produce tapestries picturing war in scenes of daily life.
Ali also questions whether the normalisation of violence can be supported or challenged by aesthetic examination.
His work considers the use of flags as cultural representations of aid, the monumentalisation of the bomb as a symbol of martyrdom, the prevalence of propaganda songs and the role of archives that visualise recurring political histories.
Throughout his project, the artist contemplates his responsibility to examine the relationship between past and present, the transference of history and the power bound up in its interpretation.
This work was co-facilitated by Bamyan Art Centre and reflects craftsmanship from Isfahan, Bamiyan, Kabul and Yogyakarta. Ali thanks Ali Baba Aurang, Atika Hussain, Aziz Hazara, Golsom Haidary, Mohammad Hadi Rahnaward, Razia Haidary, Sher Ali Hussainy, Art Meredeka Yogyakarta, Jafarian Crafts Isfahan, Milani Gallery and A3 Art Agency.
Khadim Ali (b. 1978) born and raised in Quetta, Pakistan, as third generation of Hazara refugee who fled Hazarajat due to genocide by Amir Abdul Rahman in early 1890s in Afghanistan.
Ali moved to Sydney on distinguished talent visa in December 2009 and earned an MFA at the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales (2013). Ali’s solo shows include, ‘Forlorn Foe’, Gallery Latitude 28, New Delhi India (2016); ‘Transition / Evacuation’, ARNDT, Singapore (2015); ‘Transitions / Evacuation’, Milani Gallery, Brisbane, Australia (2014); ‘The Haunted Lotus’, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia (2014); ‘The Haunted Lotus’, Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre, Hong Kong and Milani Gallery, Brisbane, Australia (2013); ‘Rustam’, Rohtas2 Lahore, Pakistan (2009); ‘Rustam’, Green Cardamon London, UK (2007).
He has also participated in Sharjah Biennial, UAE (2019); India Art Fair, Gallery Latitude 28 booth, New Delhi (2019); ‘Bearing Points’, curated by Diana Campbell Betancourt, Dhaka Art Summit, Bangladesh (2018); ‘Dissensus’, Gallery Latitude 28 at Bikaner House and Punjab Lalit Kala Academy (2017); Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (2017); Biennale de Lyon (2017); University of Queensland Art Museum, Brisbane (2014); Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2013); Documenta 13, Kassel, Germany (2012); Venice Biennial (2009); National Gallery of Pakistan, Islamabad (2008); Doris McCarthy Gallery, University of Toronto (2007) and 5th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane (2006), among others.
Ali’s works are in collections around that world, including Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK, British Museum, London, UK, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Japan, Foreign Office, Islamabad, Pakistan, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Australia, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, Queensland Art Gallery, and Brisbane, Australia.
A limited edition book of 500, titled Khadim Ali was published by ARTAND Foundation in 2017. The book is illustrated with Ali’s exceptional paintings and tapestries and works imbued with mythological narratives that take aim at contemporary politic.