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Khadim Ali
The haunted lotus

Khadim Ali The haunted lotus 2013 (detail), gouache, ink and gold leaf on wasli paper, 70 × 54 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Milani Gallery, Brisbane © the artist

AGNSW Contemporary Project

The haunted lotus considers family, the Hazara people and culture, and the emergence of a lawless society in contemporary Afghanistan.

In this exhibition Khadim Ali wrestles with the violence he experienced in Afghanistan through images that interpret a mythological past – the 10th-century Persian epic poem the Shahnameh or ‘Book of kings’.

Influenced by Persian miniatures, his images on paintings and rugs depict demons from the Shahnameh in a complex act of identification with demonised – or dehumanised – people.

‘My demons are the story of my historical self and a people who are displaced and shelterless in the world. Demonising is the dehumanising of the Hazaras and forcing them to an indescribable dominion where they must abide by a civil law that does not protect them.’ – Khadim Ali, 2013

Made in collaboration with weavers in Afghanistan, this is the first time Ali has used the medium of rug-making. It was the survival of a rug from Ali’s bombed home – a treasure ‒ that made, for him, the connection with the exhibition Afghanistan: hidden treasures from the National Museum, Kabul.

Part of Contemporary at the Gallery 2014

AGNSW Contemporary Projects are supported by Andrew Cameron

Contemporary art with UBS