Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art

Lida Abdul


In collaboration with Western Front

OPENING: Wednesday, January 23, 8pm-

Curators: Makiko Hara (CentreA), and Candice Hopkins (Western Front Exhibitions)

Photo credit for the postcard:Lida Abdul, White House, 2005, Photo Courtesy Giorgio Persano Gallery

Centre A will partner with Western Fron/ Exhibitions to produce the first mid-career survey exhibition of acclaimed Afghan artist Lida Abdul. The project, which represents the first time that Abdul’s practice will be presented in this manner, brings together two leading venues for contemporary art in Vancouver: Centre A and the Western Front. Showing the majority of the artist’s work in film, the exhibition will also include photography and performance document. Abdul’s films and photographs will be shown in Centre A while the artist will debut her new film and a codumentation of her performance at the Western Front. The exhibition will be accompanied by a publication as part of the Western Front’s new conversations series, four books which will transcribe conversations between the artist and a respondent of their choosing. The series offers another way of engaging with an exhibition to provide context and foster meaningful discourse around issues in contemporary art and culture. For Centre A, the project emphasizes its commitment to Asian art beyond the Asia Pacific region and is part of planned focus on the Central Asia and the Middle East.

Lida Abdul’s recent work is set in Afghanistan, where she has only recently been able to return. In recent history Afghanistan was under Soviet and now US-led occupation and as a result has experienced nearly ongoing war. The country is a site, for the artist, of both architectural and psychological ruin. The idea of the ruin, and the inherently political gesture of creating work in this country, is countered with lyricism and the optimism and resilience of the characters in Abdul’s films. Originally the sole performer in her artworks, Abdul’s work has shifted in recent projects to include Afghan civilians as her subjects either as a way to re-enact past events and collective memories, or to take part in contemporary “rituals”.

In the artist’s words:

“There is always the fear that the work of dissident artist, or one too close to an unfolding ‘politics’ compromises its aesthetic intentions; the fear that form might become subordinate to content. As well intentioned as this critique might appear to be one has to ask: Whose politics? In my work, I try to juxtapose the space of politics with the space of reverie in all of this I try to perform the ‘blank spaces’ that are formed when everything is taken away from people. How do we come face to face with ‘nothing’ with ’emptiness’ where there was something earlier? The refugee’s world is a portable one, allowing for easy movement between borders. It is one that can be taken away as easily as it was given: provisionally and with a little anxiety on the part of the host. “

Lida Abdul
As an artist who works both in performance and video art, Lida Abdul creates poetic spaces that allow the viewer to interrogate the familiar and the personal. Her work is guided by a ritualized formalism that insinuates the immediacy of myth and the playfulness of a mind seeking to understand the surrounding world. Abdul’s work is located at the intersection between art and architecture; it invites the viewer to see the unfolding of new forms but never resolves the contradictions and the paradoxes, resulting in a questioning of prior knowledge and understanding.

Born in Kabul, Afghanistan in 1973, where she still spends considerable time. She lived in Germany and India as a refugee after she was forced to leave Afghanistan after the former-Soviet invasion. Her work fuses the tropes of ‘Western” formalism with the numerous aesthetic traditions-Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu, pagan and nomadic-that collectively influence Afghan art and culture. She has produced work in many media including video, film, photography, installation and live performance. Her most recent work has been featured at the Venice Biennale 2005, Istanbul Modern, Kunsthalle Vienna, Museum of Modern Art Arnhem, Netherlands and Miami Central, CAC Centre d’Art Contemporain de Bretigny, Frac Lorraine Metz, France, and Location One in New York. She has also exhibited in festivals in Mexico, Spain, Germany, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan. She was also a featured artist at the Central Asian Biennial in 2004. For the past few years, Abdul has been working in different parts of Afghanistan on projects exploring the relationship between architecture and identity.


Funding: Canada Council for the Arts, City of Vancouver , British Columbia Arts Council
The exhibition is presented in partnership with the Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad


For More Information

Curator, Centre A: Makiko Hara [email protected]
Director / Curator Exhibitions Programme, Candice Hopkins [email protected]