Press release: Exhibition presents new multimedia work by Mariam Ghani

By | March 24, 2015

The City & The City: Mill Creek Valley, 2015; inkjet print mounted on aluminum; 30 x 45 inches; Courtesy of the artist and RYAN LEE, New York ©Mariam Ghani

ST. LOUIS, March 24 — The Saint Louis Art Museum presents Currents 110: Mariam Ghani, an exhibition of contemporary art that opens next month with a lecture by the Brooklyn-based artist on Tuesday, April 7.

The free exhibition opens to the public on April 8 in Galleries 250 and 301. Currents 110 runs through July 12.

Mariam Ghani 4

Mariam Ghani. Photography by Lyric Hunter. Courtesy of the artist and RYAN LEE, New York

The exhibition features multimedia works by 2014-15 Freund Fellow artist Mariam Ghani, who is known for video and photographic installations that explore the layered and complicated histories found in specific built and natural landscapes.

Ghani adopts an unusually multifaceted approach to enlivening these histories. Spoken narrative, musical score, and dance performance are all crucial to her process. Past projects have examined Kabul, Afghanistan; Kassel, Germany and Rogaland, Norway. For Currents 110, Ghani turned her lens toward St. Louis to create a video set in the city but inspired by China Miéville’s 2009 sci-fi noir novel The City & The City.

“When I started exploring St. Louis during my residency last fall, the novel, which I’d read a few years before, came back into my head,” Ghani said. “The City & The City is, of course, an allegory for the way many cities function—which is as different cities for different people. Kabul in the 2000s, for example, was one city for expatriates, and a completely different city for Afghans.  St. Louis is also a divided city, and as with the cities in Miéville’s novel, the division is not quite so simple as North Side/South Side, or City/County. As in the book, there are areas that are total, and areas that are cross-hatched.”

Currents 110 also will include the recent video Like Water From a Stone (2014), which is set on the southern coast of Norway. In it, performers move interpretively through the Norwegian landscape to evoke bodily experiences of the water and stone, and the distinctive light found in that environment. Yet, Ghani sets Norway’s tranquil beauty against reminders of the German occupation during World War II and the perils of the present-day petroleum industry.

Born in 1978 in New York, Ghani received her MFA from the School of Visual Arts, New York. She currently is a visiting scholar at New York University’s Asian/Pacific/American Institute. Her work has been featured at major museums and film festivals, including the 42nd International Film Festival, Rotterdam, Netherlands (2013); dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel, Germany (2012); the Sharjah Biennial 10, United Arab Emirates (2011); and the Modern Mondays series at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2011).

Ghani will discuss the exhibition at a free lecture in the Museum’s Farrell Auditorium on Tuesday, April 7 at 6:30 pm.

Ghani is the 2014-2015 Henry L. and Natalie E. Freund Fellow. Supported by the Henry L. and Natalie E. Freund Endowment Fund, Freund Fellowships promote the exhibition and acquisition of contemporary art at the Saint Louis Art Museum, as well as the teaching of contemporary art principles in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis. Each fellowship consists of two month-long residencies, during which recipients teach in the Sam Fox School and prepare an exhibition for the museum’s Currents series.

Currents 110: Mariam Ghani is curated by Eric Lutz, associate curator of prints, drawings and photographs, with Molly Moog, research assistant.

CONTACT: Matthew Hathaway, 314.655.5493, matthew.hathaway@slam.org