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Past Event

Saturday University: Afghan Filmmakers and the Afghan Left

Sat Feb 18 2017

Asian Art Museum


10 AM – 11:30 AM

A majority of the world’s Muslim population lives in Asia. This is an opportune time to explore diversity among their communities. The series provides historical, cultural, and contemporary perspectives on Islam and the arts, from Central Asia to Indonesia.

What We Left Unfinished: Afghan Filmmakers and the Afghan Left
Mariam Ghani, artist and filmmaker
Seattle University, Student Center 160 (STCN)

Afghan-American artist and filmmaker Mariam Ghani discusses her work in progress, What We Left Unfinished. The work is a long-term research, film, and dialogue project centered around five unfinished Afghan feature films shot, but never edited, between 1978 and 1992. Those years encompassed the Afghan Communist coup d’état, attempted reforms that met bitter rural resistance, a series of internal purges and assassinations, the Soviet invasion and withdrawal, a five-year attempt at national reconciliation, the handover of power to a mujahidin coalition, and finally dissolution into civil war. From these unfinished films, we can reconstruct the most important fictions of the state: its desires and fears, ambitions and ghosts. In these films, the reality of the People’s Democratic Republi—a utopian project secured by violent force—lingers like a shadow, just barely concealed behind allegories and codes. The world around the films, where filmmaking itself was a dangerous enterprise, seeps into the world onscreen.

About the Presenter

Mariam Ghani is an artist, writer, filmmaker and teacher. Her research-based practice spans video, installation, photography, performance, and text. Her exhibitions and screenings include the Rotterdam and CPH:DOX film festivals, the Sharjah and Liverpool Biennials, dOCUMENTA (13) in Kabul and Kassel, the National Gallery in DC, the St. Louis Art Museum, the CCCB in Barcelona, and the Guggenheim, Met Breuer, Queens Museum, and MoMA in New York. Ghani has collaborated with artist Chitra Ganesh since 2004 as Index of the Disappeared, an experimental archive of post-9/11 detentions, deportations, renditions and redactions; and with choreographer Erin Kelly and composer Qasim Naqvi since 2006 on the video series Performed Places. Ghani has been awarded the NYFA and Soros Fellowships, grants from Creative Capital, Art Matters, the Graham Foundation, CEC ArtsLink, NYSCA, the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation and the Experimental Television Center.

Saturday University is hosted by Seattle University. Held in partnership with the University of Washington Jackson School of International Studies and Elliott Bay Book Company.


JAN 28

Aesthetics, Ethics, and Politics in Muslim South Asia: The Saga of Artist MF Husain


Islam After the Mongols: Saints, Shrines, and the Stars

FEB 11

Images and Emotions: Society and Art Practices in the Islamic World

FEB 18

What We Left Unfinished: Afghan Filmmakers and the Afghan Left

FEB 25

No Saturday University Lecture
Attend Search for Meaning Book Festival


Being Grateful for Difference: Islam and Religious Pluralism in Indonesia

MAR 11

Living with Paintings: Spiritual Notes from a Muslim Artist in Indonesia

MAR 18

Canvassing the Book

MAR 25

The Art and Culture of Herat Afghanistan in the Late 15th Century: Master of Calligraphers Sultan ‘Ali Mashhadi


Artist Naiza Khan in Dialogue

Series tickets available to the public January 6.
Full series tickets: $88; SAM members $45

Partial series tickets available Wed January 11.
Winter Short Series (Jan 28, Feb 4, Feb 11)
$30; SAM members: $15
Spring Short Series (Mar 11, Mar 18, Mar 25 & Apr 1)
$40; SAM members: $20

Individual lecture tickets available at the door only: $10, SAM members $5
Please arrive to your seat 10 minutes before the program starts, or your seat may be released.

Photo: courtesy of Mariam Ghani