September 7, 2017
I was invited to write a piece about the recent work of artist Khadim Ali for the latest issue of di'van— a reading of the extraordinary image featured on the cover: Ali's "The Arrival of Demons"-- and now it's out! I'm really thankful for this opportunity to share some thoughts on the work of one of the most important artists practicing today—here are a few lines:
“In reading Ali’s “The Arrival of Demons”—the question of the real and symbolic meaning of the depicted demon figures—it is possible to see in their cursed half-animal, half-human appearance a reflection of the condition described by Agamben. Perhaps these are not masks, but rather just what a living being reduce to “bare life” looks like; an image—and one that is more than allegorical—of a group of living beings that dwell at the threshold of life and the political community, situated precariously in relation to the safe haven of the nation, and if not quite stripped of, then at least partially excluded from, the rights and protections that it alone grants them. But one wonders why there is no fear in their faces, if they are indeed exposed to death. For the ocean is clearly intent on endangering them, yet their countenance is somehow still, almost quietly heroic. Certainly their appearance carves the same twisted shapes as the turbulent sea, forming a visual rhyme, suggesting that this is what it takes to face chaos. Perhaps one first has to become chaos.”
This issue will be distributed during the VIP Preview for the Istanbul Biennial, Sydney Contemporary (art fair), both this September, and the Dhaka Art Summit next February, 2018. Additionally it will find its way to various points in Europe, USA, greater Asia, Middle East, Australia and New Zealand. An online version of the journal is also available online, here: https://issuu.com/unswartdesign/docs/di_van_2
I'm specially thankful of Timothy Johannessen for his insightful conversations relating to Aristotle and Agamben and Khadim Ali for sharing details of his personal history and his art work.