Mariam Ghani: What We Left Unfinished. Artist talk and screenings


From 25 November 2016




Garage Auditorium


As part of her long-term research, artist, filmmaker, and writer Mariam Ghani will present her investigations centered around five unfinished Afghan feature films shot between 1978 and 1992, years that encompass the Afghan Communist coup d'état and strong Soviet influence in the country.

The event will also include screenings of three of the unfinished films along with improvised live commentaries by curator, writer and theorist Ilya Budraitskis, filmmaker and film historian Alexander Markov, and diplomat, professor, Ph.D. in Middle Eastern Studies Gennady Avdeev.

The program of film excerpts includes: The April Revolution (1978-9) featuring the PDPA leaders and the Afghan army, playing themselves. The film is an re-enactment of the 1978 Communist coup-d'état, commissioned by the party leaders; Falling (Faqir Nabi, 1986), a film about a police officer who goes undercover to infiltrate a criminal organization, but finds his new life dangerously seductive, and begins to have trouble balancing between truth and lies; and The Black Diamond (Abdul Khalek Halil, 1984) following the story about a man's involvement with a gang of diamond smugglers that leads to unfortunate consequences for his family, especially his rebellious teenage daughter.

The event is part of the Ghani’s research in Moscow, focused on collecting cinematic material in order to explore how the Afghan war was constructed cinematically for the Soviet people, and how it was framed for the Afghan people—through cinematic methods influenced by Soviet filmmakers.


Mariam Ghani is an artist, writer, filmmaker, and teacher. She was born in 1978 in New York. Her research-based practice spans video, installation, photography, performance, and text. Her exhibitions and screenings include the Sharjah and Liverpool Biennials, dOCUMENTA (13) in Kabul and Kassel, the National Gallery in Washington DC, the Guggenheim, Met Breuer, Queens Museum, and MoMA in New York. Recent texts have been published by Creative Time Reports, Foreign Policy, Ibraaz, Triple Canopy, and the Manifesta Journal. Recent curatorial projects include the international symposium Radical Archives, the traveling film program History of Histories, and the collaborative exhibition Utopian Pulse. In 2014 Ghani curated In Translation at the Mayakovsky library in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Ghani holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature from New York University and an MFA from School of Visual Arts. Ghani teaches at Cooper Union and in the Social Practice MFA program at Queens College.

Currently developing research project What we left unfinished, a long-term research, film, and dialogue project, Ghani uncovers lost or fragmented film history of Afghanistan. The topic is closely related to Ghani’s own family roots in Afghanistan, her five-year collaboration with the Afghan national film archive, and her interest in reconstructing abandoned projects, failed ideals, and lost and fragmented histories.

Ilya Budraitskis is a historian, columnist, art curator, and social activist. He was born 1981 in Moscow. He is a member of editorial board of Moscow Art Magazine. Since the late 1990s Budraitskis has been an active participant and organizer of various initiatives in social mobilization. Budraitskis co-edited (together with Ekaterina Degot and Marta Dziewanska) the book Post-post-Soviet? Art, Politics and Society in Russia in the Turn of the Decade (Warsaw and Chicago: Museum of Modern Art and University of Chicago Press, 2013). He is also co-editor (together with Arseniy Zhilyaev) and author of the book Pedagogical Poem (Moscow and Venice: v-a-c and Marsilio, 2014).

His curatorial projects include Conquered City, Moscow, 2009 (co-curated with David Ter-Oganyan and Alexander Galkina); Pedagogical Poem, Moscow, 2012 (co-curated with Arseny Zhilyaev); Three Days in October, Moscow, 2013 (co-curated with Vladimir Potapov) amongst others.

Alexander Markov is a documentary filmmaker, curator, and teacher. He was born in 1973 in St. Petersburg, Russia. He graduated with a degree in Film Directing from the St. Petersburg University of Arts and Culture in 2000, and a degree in Film History from the Russian Institute for Art History in 2004. He trained at the Konrad Wolf School of Film and Television in Potsdam-Babelsberg from 2005 to 2006. Markov has directed a number of documentary films, including Museum of Dreams (2000); Lullaby (2002); Cities within Cities (2003); Russian Costa Rica (2008); Two Highways (2008); Pastoral (2008); Delusion (2010); Children of the Sun (2011); Get Used to This Place (2011); and German Portraits Russian Style (2012).

He is currently working on a feature-length documentary titled Our Africa. He also works as an independent film programmer and has collaborated with the Goethe Institute, the New York African Film Festival, and the Message to Man International Film Festival in St. Petersburg. Markov teaches Documentary Filmmaking at the St. Petersburg State Institute of Film and Television.

Gennady Avdeev (b. 1940) is a diplomat, professor, Ph.D. in Middle Eastern Studies. Avdeev graduated from the Institute of Eastern Languages in 1969 with a specialization in Persian literature.

Avdeev worked at the Union of Soviet Friendship Societies and Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries, in its Department of the Near and Middle East. He was secretary of the Society of Soviet-Afghan Friendship. During the Soviet-Afghan war, he was the first secretary of the Soviet embassy in Kabul and was head of the House of Soviet Culture and Technology from 1985 to 1987.

Avdeev was on a diplomatic mission in Iran during the Islamic revolution from 1979 to 1983, and at the consulate in Karachi, Pakistan, from 1995 to 1998. He taught geopolitics and foreign intelligence as a professor at the Military University of the Russian Defense Ministry.

His wife is Lyudmila Avdeeva, journalist, member of the Union of Writers.