It's Complicated

“The Rebel Fell” from  Afghan by Blood, Redneck bythe Grace of God 

The great intersection of art and culture

I first heard Amanullah "Aman" Mojadidi speaking about his Afghan heritage and his art on a Ted talk on my way to work. I love that he spoke about the contradictions inherent within his culture and yet the  irreverent love for his native country is apparent in his work. At the same time he was raised in America and he states, " I stand here today, Afghan by blood, redneck by the grace of God." It is precisely that dichotomy that he explores in his work. 

“Conflict Chic 1” from the series Conflict Chic
“A fashion line for soldiers and suicide bombers. I take local Afghan fox fur and add it to a flak jacket,” stated Mojadidi

“Dressing for Work”  from A Day in the Life of a Jihadi Gangster 
Mojadidi stated, "I want to spend a day in the life of a Jihadi gangster, who wears his jihad against the communists like pop-star bling."

My favorite though is the the video installation "Payback" where Mojadidi dresses up like a policeman and tries to give people in Kabul money. Since normally the policeman take bribes the installation points out the insanity of a country that exists primarily on bribes. Very few people took the money. 

Mojadidi says that, "I don't want to paint rainbows; I want to make art that disturbs identity and challenges authority". He definitely succeeds in doing so in his work, yet he does so in a way that shows the almost alternative reality that people live with in Afghanistan. 

Definitely take a listen to his Ted talk.

Originally Published 3/28/13

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