Kabul 2, 3, 4

Mariam Ghani, Kabul 2, 3, 4, Kabul 234,
Kabul 2, 3, 4 (three-channel video, 2002-07), video still

Kabul 2, 3, 4 developed from a simple plan: to track the visible reconstructions undergone by the city during the period of post-conflict intervention by driving through the city once each year and recording that drive on video. I put this plan into practice in December 2002, December 2003, and October 2004. The simple passage of the camera was often able to register the near-seismic upheaval of a city in the grip of rapid and radical change: the influx of more than 2 million returned refugees; the skyrocketing values of real estate; the growth of a parallel economy serving international aid workers, along with the bunker mentality that crept across their neighborhoods, blocking off ever more roads from the camera’s eye as it went; the political cycles of idealism and disillusionment that produced billboards, monuments, graffiti and riots — all of these were reflected on the surface of the city.

Mariam Ghani, Kabul 2, 3, 4, Kabul 234, Artists in Exile, NY, New York
Kabul 2, 3, 4 (2002-07): three-channel video (each video RT 13:00, color, stereo) presented as three vertically stacked monitors. Left: video still, 3-in-1 channel version. Right: installation view, The Guild Gallery, NYC, 2009.

Three years later, I went back to the footage from these three years of filming, and shaped it into a three-channel installation where each channel represents one year and my annual trajectories are, as far as possible, lined up so that they run parallel courses through the city, allowing viewers to see the same places simultaneously in three different stages of their reconstructions, so that the city’s transformations (as well as the remnants of its past that remain untouched) can be traced across time and space.

The associated 2003 print series Kabuli Containers documents some of the shipping containers converted into market stalls and small stand-alone shops, found alongside roads all across Kabul. The series of 6 iris prints on watercolor paper with deckled edges is mounted in galvanized aluminum shadow boxes which have been painted and scraped to resemble the colors and textures of roadside containers.


Kabuli Containers: series of 6 iris prints on watercolor paper, mounted in custom 15 x 8 inch galvanized aluminum shadow boxes, 2003 (edition of 3); click on image to view entire series