"For me art is always a petition for another world, a momentary shattering of what is comfortable so that we become more sophisticated in reclaiming the present".
Afghani artist Lida Abdul will present her video work, Dome and photographs and stills from Once Upon Awakening at Anna Schwartz Gallery Melbourne.
As an artist who works in both performance and video art, Lida Abdul creates poetic spaces that allow the viewer to interrogate the familiar and the personal.
Dome reflects upon the possibility for regeneration in the face of devastation and isolation, using architectural destruction as a metaphor for human suffering.
A small boy is shown circling alone in the centre of a bombed-out building on the outskirts of Kabul. Originally used to store archival material for the National Kabul Museum, the building is now an empty shell open to the elements. The camera follows the boy’s gaze around and upwards to reveal a roofless dome. Here the circular motion evokes the ritualistic movements of Sufi whirling dervishes, and suggests the cycles of renewal and rebirth associated with the spiritual philosophies of Buddhism and Hinduism.
In her work, Once Upon Awakening, Abdul reflects upon the character of home and place. Returning to her native country and finding it destroyed by invasion, war and catastrophe, Abdul uses the built landscape in an exploration of belonging, migration, power, and identity.
Abdul has created a surreal vision of the de-construction of a ruin. Remarkable for its beauty and restraint, the work is a meditation on the aftermath of war, exposing the tangled after shocks of destruction, acceptance and renewal.
The photographs and stills show a group of men pulling in a united effort on long white ropes, straining under the task. Slowly we become aware that the ropes are tied to the stone walls of an actual house destroyed by a recent bombing in Kabul, which the men are striving to pull down. At first their efforts seem ineffectual against impossible odds; their actions become a metaphor of survivors’ attempts to deal with the devastation of war. It ends with a burial ritual, symbolising closure and a moment of communal healing when the ruins are finally put to rest so that life can begin anew.
‘As an Afghan artist, who left her country of birth a few years after the former Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, I have tried to comprehend the disaster that has ravaged my country for more than two decades. … Language, notions of domesticity and perceptions of the other are all transformed radically, to the extent that survivors/refugees often refuse to talk about what they went through. We have all known the history of this silence’, says Abdul.