Mariam Ghani

Artist, Writer, Filmmaker

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Mariam Ghani is an artist, writer, and filmmaker. Her work looks at places, spaces and moments where social, political and cultural structures take on visible forms, and spans video, sound, installation, photography, performance, text and data. Ghani’s work has been exhibited and screened at the Guggenheim, MoMA, Met Breuer and Queens Museum in New York; the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., the Saint Louis Art Museum, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and the CCCB in Barcelona; the Rotterdam and CPH:DOX film festivals, the Sharjah and Liverpool Biennials, the Dhaka Art Summit, and Documenta 13 in Kabul and Kassel, among others. Recent texts have been published in e-Flux, Frieze, Foreign Policy, Triple Canopy, and the readers Assuming Boycott: Resistance, Agency and Cultural Production, Social Medium: Artists Writing 2000-2015, Utopian Pulse: Flares in the Darkroom, Critical Writing Ensembles, and Dissonant Archives. Ghani has received a number of fellowships, awards, grants, and residencies, most recently from NYSCA, the New York Public Library, Creative Capital, Art Matters, the 18th Street Arts Center in Los Angeles, the Schell Center for International Human Rights at Yale Law, and the Center for Constitutional Rights. She teaches at Bennington College.

Ghani is known for projects that engage with places, ideas, issues and institutions over long periods of time, often as part of long-term collaborations. These include: critical, curatorial, conservation and creative work with the national film archive Afghan Films, since 2012, with support from the media archiving collective Pad.ma and a number of international art institutions; the video and performance series Performed Places, ongoing since 2006, in collaboration with choreographer Erin Ellen Kelly and composer Qasim Naqvi; and the experimental archive and discussion platform Index of the Disappeared, initiated with artist Chitra Ganesh in 2004, which has also become a vehicle for collaborations with other activists, archivists, artists, journalists, lawyers and scholars.

Ghani’s first feature-length film, the documentary What We Left Unfinished, traces an idiosyncratic and ambivalent history of the Afghan Communist period through the stories of five unfinished fiction films. The film recently had its world premiere at the Berlinale and will have its US premiere at SFFILM in April. She is currently working with Afghan Films to restore a series of both classic and lesser-known films from the archive, to be distributed alongside her own film as it circulates across the world. In January, Ghani and Kelly premiered their three-channel installation and photo series When the Spirits Moved Them, They Moved, a meditation on Shaker dance and architecture,at Ryan Lee Gallery. Ghani is currently wrapping up the first phase of work on her new film Dis-Ease, which was commissioned by the Wellcome Collection as part of the multi-city project Contagious Cities.

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