This is an archive of the ArtCat Zine, 2007-2009. Please visit our new project, IDIOM.
Lida Abdul in conversation with curator Pieranna Cavalchini
7pm, Tuesday 9 October 2007
26 Greene Street (between Canal and Grand)
New York NY, 10013
If we were to describe the video and performance artist Lida Abdul as some of the high-profile international exhibitions which have shown her work are likely to do — that is, by the artist's national or ethnic identity, like a denomination inspired directly from a Miss America-style beauty pageant — we might say she is an Afghan-American artist who makes work about the ruins of personal and collective national histories. We might also resist the temptation for such simple reductions, a critical stance especially useful in discussing Abdul's work in particular, as some have described the artist as "post-identity" or "post-nation." Even this characterization, however, leaves the artist with a certain unease.
Abdul's childhood displacement form the country of her birth by the invasion of the Soviet army in 1979, and her consequent refugee wandering across Asia, Europe, and finally the US (where she received her formal training in the liberal and fine arts), complicate things. The coming of the Taliban into political power in Afghanistan in the 90s , and the later US-lead bombing of the country in 2001 kept Abdul based in Los Angeles, where she developed a body of photo, video, and performance work that often centered on concepts of national, economic, and ethnic identity.
The video still reproduced above is Abdul's performance tape Public Ritual in which the artist paints certain leftover remnants of the US military intervention in Afghanistan completely white. The video is part of a group of related works, which also include the White House (2006) tape in which the artist covers the skeletal ruins of a previously bombed building — a silent testament to the horrific material imposition of political ideologies delivered on the backs of falling bombs — in white, before painting an unidentified Afghan man with the same color.
Tomorrow night at 7pm Lida Abdul will have a public conversation with curator Pieranna Cavalchini at Location One in SoHo. This talk is presented in conjunction with the artist's first New York exhibition also at Location One: What we Saw Upon Awakening. The exhibition consists of a new 16mm film transfered to video which will be on view through 17 November.