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Emirates Fine Art Society

Artist at this venue:
Khadim Ali

Artist and artwork  

About this venue, map  

Exhibition:
Journey Beyond the Arrow
Curator: Zoe Butt

Khadim Ali

* 1978 Quetta, Pakistan. Lives in Sydney and Kabul.

Flowers of Evil. 2019
A series of works, commissioned by Sharjah Art Foundation.
Details on the image pages

About the work

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 ofEvil' (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.

Text from the Sharjah Biennial 14 Guidebook
© 2019 Sharjah Art Foundation


Emirates Fine Arts Society

Non-profit association of art professional in the United Arab Emirates, established in 1980. The Head Office is in Sharjah, and there are branches in Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah and Khor Fakkan. The Emirates Fine Arts Society is member of the Arab Art Association and the International Association of Art, IAA/AIAP (headquaters in Paris, France).

The Head Office in Sharjah with its enclosed courtyard and a gallery is open to visitors and offers workshops to non-members.

Sharjah Biennial 14:
Leaving the Echo Chamber

7 March - 10 June 2019

Over 80 participants

Curators, exhibitions:

Zoe Butt: Journey Beyond the Arrow

Omar Kholeif: Making New Time

Claire Tancons: Look for Me All Around You

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