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The solo exhibition by Maryam Jafri at the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein focuses on the historical imagination and its role in shaping contemporary subjectivities. It consists of two parts, a three screen video installation titled "Costume Party" and "Siege of Khartoum,1884", a photo-collage installation.
"Costume Party" centres on 18 characters attending a costume party dressed from defining periods of Western history from antiquity to the present, including a crusader, monk and a cowboy. Spread over three screens with one common soundtrack, the costumes and stage like setting present a series of narrative tableaux that seem to combine and recycle elements of myth, history, underground film and TV trash. By interrogating the norms and values that give rise to national and cultural identities, "Costume Party" reveals the dialectical effort to construct a certain history from the presumption of a certain community, and then employ this constructed history to argue for the existence of an essential commonality.
The second part of the exhibition traces the narratives of Empire at work in the present moment. The newly developed installation "Siege of Khartoum,1884," appropriates iconic images from contemporary world events and combines them with excerpts of archival news texts from earlier points in history. The 29 photo-collage posters map the narrative arc of earlier colonial wars of conquest and its resurgence in the contemporary Iraq war and the War on Terror.
Costume Party: Colony & Native
13 May - 25 June 2006
Curator: Kathrin Becker, NBK