Screenings at Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

January 24, 2013 - filed under Announcements,Past Events   

Akhtar Maskara (Akhtar the Joker) 1980, Latif Ahmadi

History of Histories: Afghan Films 1960-Present
Screening Program at The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Organized by Leeza Ahmady and Mariam Ghani
Fridays, March 1 thru April 5, 2013
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Fifth Avenue at 89th Street
In conjunction with No Country: Regarding South and Southeast Asia, the first exhibition of the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative, The Guggenheim Museum presents a series of programs dedicated to Afghan cinema and film production selected by independent curator Leeza Ahmady and artist Mariam Ghani.

Fridays, March 1, 15, 22, and 29, 2 pm
Approximate runtime for each screening: 170 minutes
Introduction by Leeza Ahmady and Mariam Ghani on March 1 and March 29

All screenings are free with museum admission.

2-5pm, Friday, March 1 and March 22

Selections from the Afghan Films archive, 1967-80
In a series of select newsreels, documentary and propaganda shorts, and feature film clips drawn from the archive of Afghan Films, Afghanistan’s national film institute, the changing fashions, mores and politics of the constantly reconfigured state are reflected.

Khan-e-Tarikh (The House of History), 1996 Directed by Qader Tahiri
The only documentary produced by Afghan Films during the civil war years, The House of History is an intensely personal essay film that chronicles the destruction of Kabul during the civil war, followed by a meditation on the ruin of Kabul’s archaeological museum and the efforts to save fragments left behind after its destruction in 1991.

Fiction shorts by the Jump Cut Film Collective, 2009-10
The Jump Cut Film Collective was founded in Kabul in 2009 by a group of young independent filmmakers who share both production duties and formal concerns. In the Name of Opium (dir. Sayed Jalal Hussaini) employs a non-traditional, circular narrative structure and no dialogue, while strong cinematography sets up a series of memorable images, each a part of a larger opium-driven vicious cycle.

Feature: Akhtar Maskara (Akhtar the Joker), 1980 Directed by Latif Ahmadi
A stinging social critique of the gap between rich and poor, old and new Kabulis at the end of the 1970s, and the story of an unusual young man who falls into the cracks in between. Sharp cinematography, a twisting plot, and occasional breaks where the unreliable narrator addresses the camera directly, give it a quality unlike anything else in Afghan cinema.

2-5pm, Friday, March 15 and March 29

Doc shorts from Ateliers Varan Kabul, 2011
Ateliers Varan, the documentary training program initiated by direct cinema pioneer Jean Rouch, has operated workshops in Kabul since 2006. The shorts Dusty Night and The Postman observe the rituals and rhythms of the city without judgment or commentary, unless offered by the participants observed.

Fiction shorts by the Jump Cut Film Collective, 2009-10
The early shorts from Jump Cut, ANT (dir. Hashem Didari) and Devious (dir. Sayed Jalal Hussaini), display a preoccupation with the use of non-linear temporal structures, as well as their interest in the illegal and informal economies, and the petty and not so petty thefts, grifts and deceits that spring from the inequities and poverty of Kabul.

Feature: Kabuli Kid, 2009 Directed by Barmak Akram
In writer-director Barmak Akram’s debut feature, the life of cab driver Khaled (Hadji Gul) is thrown for a loop when he discovers that his last passenger left an infant boy in the back seat. Khaled embarks on a chaotic adventure from one end of war-torn Kabul to the other to find the mother. (Kabuli Kid will be screened on March 15 only!)

Feature: Mujasemaha Mekhandan (The Sculptures Are Laughing), 1976Directed by Toryalai Shafaq
The deliriously paced story of an artist who falls in love with a spoiled rich girl, who marries a gangster who draws both his bride and her former love into his wacky schemes. A window into life in Daoud’s republic, from art school to fashion shows to house parties to weddings. (Mujasemaha Mekhandan will be screened on March 29 only!)

6:30-8:30 pm, Friday, April 5

A Discussion with the Filmmaker and Screening of Wajma (An Afghan Love Story)

A special one-time screening of Wajma (An Afghan Love Story), the most recent film written and directed by Barmak Akram (b. 1966, Kabul) that follows the clandestine relationship of gregarious waiter Mustafa and pretty student Wajma. Beginning as a playful and passionate affair, after Wajma discovers she is pregnant the consequences of the societal rules the pair has broken rapidly unfold. Awarded the World Cinema Dramatic Screenwriting prize at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Following the screening, Leeza Ahmady and Mariam Ghani join Akram in a discussion about filmmaking in Afghanistan, as well as the historic context and themes of cinema from the region. Program concludes with a reception and exhibition viewing of No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia.

FREE with advance registration at


January 24, 2013 - filed under Announcements,Exhibitions,Past Events   

Visual Art Section: Season of Cambodia, A Living Arts Festival

Savy Sareth 'Mon Boulet,' 2011. Metal 200cm sphere

April 1 through May 31, 2013

Co-Curated by Leeza Ahmady and Erin Gleeson.

IN RESIDENCE is a citywide visual arts program centered on two-month residencies for 10 visual artists and 1 curator from Cambodia to live and work in New York; complimented by a dynamic map of public programs at major New York City institutions; including solo exhibitions, open studios, symposiums, and conversations with artists and curators most critically involved in shaping Cambodia’s unique contemporary art scene.

IN RESIDENCE invites audiences to engage with new perspectives on Cambodia’s history and contemporaneity. For decades, Cambodia has been subject to international field research – a practice that has largely shaped distanced, third person perspectives around the nation’s occupied and traumatic histories. In the last decade, it is largely Cambodia’s local and diaspora visual artists who, by giving form to their experiences, are responsible for anchoring critical first-person perspectives.

The selected artists work across a range of practices including drawing, sculpture, installation, photography, video, and performance. Born between 1970 and 1987 – either during the U.S. military bombing campaign, the Khmer Rouge era, or Vietnamese occupation – the artists interpret their histories from different angels while many also respond to current cultural changes forced by globalization.

The festival’s contemporary artists’ lineup includes internationally renowned artists Sopheap Pich, Rattana Vandy, Samnang Khvay and Seckon Leang, as well as leading regional and local figures Sokchanlina Lim, Amy Lee Sanford, Sareth Svay, Sok Than, Kanitha Tith, Lyno Vuth, Maline Yim, and New York-based Pete Pin.

Residency Partners: Asia Art Archive in America, Asian Cultural Council, Bose Pacia, Bronx Museum of the Arts, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and Residency Unlimited (RU), and Casita Maria Center for Arts and Education

Public Program Partners: Asia Society and Museum, Arts Brookfield, BAM, Cornell University, ICI (Independent Curators International), Metropolitan Museum of Art, Parsons The New School of Design, Tyler Rollins Fine Art

Media Partner: ArtAsiaPacific


Dialogues in Contemporary Art @ ICI

March 6, 2012 - filed under Past Events   

Dialogues in Contemporary Art: Take One

Tuesday, March 13, 2012, 7:00 pm-8:30 pm @ Independent Curators International Curatorial Hub,  401 Broadway, Suite 1620, New York, NY 10013

Hitomi Iwasaki, Curator and Director of Exhibitions at Queens Museum of Art and Herb Tam, Curator and Director of Exhibitions at the Museum of Chinese in America speak with Leeza Ahmady about their research on the presence of Asia in Caribbean culture and art. Inspired by the occasion of the upcoming exhibition, Caribbean: Crossroads of the World (June 2012), Tam and Iwasaki set out to address the significant void of Asian cultural traces in the region.

The exhibition, which will span three venues in NYC, examines the visual arts and aesthetic development across the Caribbean, considering the histories of the Spanish, French, Dutch and English islands and their Diasporas.  As a highly globalized region that has been consistently shaped by multiple paths of migration since European colonization in the 15th century and the transatlantic slave trade, the Caribbean is often portrayed as the ultimate symbol of “modernity” and globalization.  However, not all of the multiple interrelations have received equal attention. What was seemingly an innocuous simple task of detecting Asian cultures in the New World turned out to be something entirely different. Too subtle is the yellow tint under the dominant shade of black…

This discussion is part of the Dialogues in Contemporary Art (DCA) series, hosted by AhmadyArts in collaboration with Independent Curators International (ICI) & The program will include select recordings of conversations, talks, & panel discussions led by Leeza Ahmady, and presented at the ICI Hub in Tribeca, New York City.

All DCA events will be recorded & made available for public access through

This event is open to the public, but seating is limited. Reception follows. RSVP suggested at with event title, DCA Take 1, in the subject field.

Upcoming Talks

September 27, 2011 - filed under Past Events   

Sunday, October 2, 2011

2011 Asian Art Biennial: Medi(t)ation, “Asian Art and Curator’s Forum,” National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taipei, Taiwan, 9am – 5pm

The Forum will bring together scholars from Japan, Philippines, Korea, Afghanistan, and India to present research, exchange ideas, and investigate the impact of new cultural trends on contemporary art.   The presenters will analyze how current trends affect countries across Asia with specific respect to their regional history, traditions, aesthetics, cultural backgrounds, and relationship with regional counterparts in the 21st century. The forum aims to foster a mutual exchange of views and to deepen reciprocal understanding as the basis for further interaction and connection.

Leeza Ahmady’s presentation within the framework of the “Asian Art and Curator’s Forum” aims to engage professionals and encourage artistic exchange between Central Asia and the larger Asian contemporary art world.  Ahmady will offer a broad-spectrum analysis of the arts and culture in Central Asia as related to recent developments in contemporary art.  The presentation will showcase locally active artists and organizations, as well as those who are visible in the international arena, while addressing the lack of artistic dialogue between Central Asia and the surrounding Asian continent, the United States and Europe, thus making a case for the importance of further global artistic engagement in this region.

National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts

Auditorium Gallery

Taipei, Taiwan

For more information please visit:

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Roundtable discussion “Contemporary Art: World Currents,” with Terry Smith, Independent Curators International, New York, 2pm – 5pm

This roundtable will bring together a number of emerging and mid-career curators who are actively engaged in the global art community for a collaborative discussion based on each curator’s theoretical and practical approach to navigating contemporary art.  The conversation will center on the idea of testing definitions of contemporaneity, re-modernism and global.  Participants will exchange ideas and opinions that explore the applications and implications of these terms.

Participants include:  Leeza Ahmady, Kalia Brooks, Doryun Chong, Sofia Olascoaga, Terry Smith, and others.

Independent Curators International (ICI)
401 Broadway, Suite 1620
New York, NY 10013

Thursday, November 3, 2011

“The Taste of Others: Art in Central Asia,” as part of the CU Art Museum and Art History Program fall Lecture Series “CRITICAL POSITIONS: Perspectives on Art History, Curatorial Practice, and Art Criticism,” University of Colorado at Boulder

Leeza Ahmady’s project “The Taste of Others” was first launched in 2005 as an ongoing curatorial, educational, and archival initiative to connect the artists and art practitioners of Central Asia (Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan) to artists and art professionals in other parts of the world. The project has been presented in a variety of formats (exhibitions, lectures, panels, screenings, interviews, articles, essays) at numerous venues in the US and abroad.

318 UCB, Visual Arts Complex (VAC)
University of Colorado at Boulder
Boulder, CO 80309

March 29, 2011 - filed under Past Events   

The seventh edition of Asian Contemporary Art Week in New York City successfully closed on March 31, 2011 after ten days of exhibitions, screenings, receptions and public programs.  If you missed the events or would like to experience them again, many of the programs are recorded and archived as part of Dialogues in Asian Contemporary Art in collaboration with online radio station and free cultural archive

Dialogues in Asian Contemporary Art (DACA) is an ongoing series hosted by ACAW Director, Leeza Ahmady.  With the idea that no artist or community’s art can be summed up all at once, DACA presents select recordings of interviews, conversations, talks, and panel discussions happening year-round at venues across New York City.  The recordings from ACAW 2011 joins an archive of past interviews featuring foremost artists such as Ai Weiwei, Yeondoo Jung, Lee Mingwei, Alexander Ugay, Almagul Menlibayeva, Guy Ben-ner and more.

Listen to ACAW Artists & Curators in Dialogue!
The complete DACA series is available here.

An evening with Mariam Ghani
Ghani discusses her work and ongoing examinations of the public and private narratives that construct and contest histories, places and communities. During the conversation the artist screened five video works, including her most recent commissioned work for the Sharjah Biennial 2011. Recorded on March 21, 2011 at the Museum of Modern Art.
Listen to dialogue with Mariam Ghani

Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian
The legendary, charming, and enduringly vital artist Monir Farmanfarmaian talks about her life and work with Melissa Chiu, Director of Asia Society Museum.  With a career spanning over fifty years Farmanfarmaian is not short on achievements, notably receiving a Venice Biennale Gold Medal in 1958.  Recorded on March 23, 2011 at Asia Society.
Listen to dialogue with Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian

International Biennials: Suzanne Cotter, David Elliott, Massimiliano Gioni
In a presentation moderated by IFA Scholar Joe Martin Hill, three renowned curators discuss their curatorial processes for the recent biennials in Sharjah, Sydney and Gwangju.  The dialogue presented three rather unique perspectives on what it means to curate a successful biennial, why perennial exhibitions have flourished in Asia and what the future holds.  Recorded on March 25, 2011 at Guggenheim Museum.
Listen to dialogue with Suzanne Cotter, David Elliott, Massimiliano Gioni

Wind: Jungjin Lee
Jungjin Lee discusses her latest work with acclaimed photography critic and historian, Vicki Goldberg. Wind centers on the artist’s response to the American desert as depicted through her unconventional prints on Korean paper, resulting in work with a subjective and cultural perspective. Recorded on March 26, 2011 at Aperture in association with sepiaEYE.
Listen to dialogue with Jungjin Lee

Neo-Dada Mix/Remix: Ushio Shinohara and Tomokazu Matsuyama
New York-based Japanese artists Ushio Shinohara (b. 1932) and Tomokazu Matsuyama (b. 1976) talk about their work and respective, often unconventional approaches to the exploration of Japanese culture and history in this conversation with Asia Society Associate Curator, Miwako Tezuka. Recorded on March 28, 2011 at Asia Society.
Listen to dialogue with Ushio Shinohara and Tomokazu Matsuyama

Women, Arts, and Activism: Karin Chien, Amita Swadhin, Chang-Jin Lee
A film producer, an educator, and a conceptual artist join together to discuss how their work carefully balances art and activism in this conversation with noted historian Joan Lebold Cohen.  Recorded on March 30, 2011 at China Institute in collaboration with Asian Women Giving Circle and Ethan Cohen Fine Arts.
Listen to dialogue with Karin Chien, Amita Swadhin, Chang-Jin Lee

Fong Wah Phoebe Hui, Chaw Ei Thein, Firoz Mahmud: Role of Artists in Local Spaces and Global Society
Artists from Hong Kong, Burma and Bangladesh explore the challenges and opportunities encountered in maneuvering local art scenes while becoming increasingly engaged in global art forums, in this discussion moderated by ACAW Director, Leeza Ahmady. Recorded on March 30, 2011 at Location One in association with the Asian Cultural Council.
Listen to dialogue with Fong Wah Phoebe Hui, Chaw Ei Thein, Firoz Mahmud

Yang Jiechang and Zheng Shengtian
Historian Jane DeBevoise engages the artists in a spirited Q&A following a screening of Asia Art Archive’s feature documentary From Jean-Paul Sartre to Teresa Teng: Contemporary Cantonese Art in the 1980s.  Recorded on March 31, 2011 at Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) in association with Asia Art Archive.
Listen to dialogue with Yang Jiechang and Zheng Shengtian

Asian Contemporary Art Week – March 21-31!

March 14, 2011 - filed under Past Events   

Mariam Ghani, A Brief History of Collapses. Video, Commissioned by the Sharjah Biennial X, 2011.

Asian Contemporary Art Week, (ACAW) celebrates over 90 artists’ works at 35 New York City museums and galleries thru select exhibitions, conversations, screenings, book launches, receptions, and curator tours from March 21-31, 2011. Now in its seventh year, ACAW 2011 launches Dialogues in Asian Contemporary Art, a series of talks with more than 25 leading artists and professionals in the field.  Over the course of the ten days, ACAW Dialogues will strive to disseminate broader, more thorough knowledge of art communities and artists’ activities within and outside of Asia.

Highlights of the ACAW Dialogues include:

A discussion with Mariam Ghani and Barbara London at the Museum of Modern Art (March 21)
Rashid Rana and Pooja Sood at Sotheby’s (March 22)
M.F. Husain and Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian with Melissa Chiu at Asia Society Museum (March 23)
David ElliottMassimiliano Gioni, and Suzanne Cotter with Joe Martin Hill at the Guggenheim Museum (March 25)
Ushio Shinohara and Tomokazu Matsuyama with Miwako Tezuka at Asia Society Museum (March 28)
Liu Xiaodong with Alexandra Munroe at the Guggenheim Museum (March 29)
Xiaoze Xie interviewed by Robert Hobbs at China Institute (March 29)
A discussion with Asian Cultural Council 2011 grantees/contemporary artists Firoz Mahmud, Chaw Ei Thein, and Fong Wah Phoebe Hui led by Leeza Ahmady at Location One (March 30)
Yang Jiechang and Zheng Shengtian in conversation with Jane DeBevoise at Museum of Chinese in the Americas (March 31)

Most programs are free to the public and some require advance booking. For more information and a complete schedule of events, visit

Participating Venues:

Monday, March 21
The Museum of Modern Art*

Tuesday, March 22

Wednesday, March 23
Asia Society and Museum*

Thursday, March 24
Chambers Fine Art
Jack Shainman Gallery*
Priska C. Juschka Fine Art
sepia EYE at Aperture Gallery*
Sundaram Tagore Gallery
Thomas Erben Gallery*
Tyler Rollins Fine Art*

Friday, March 25
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum*
Rubin Museum of Art

Saturday, March 26
Bose Pacia*
Ethan Cohen Fine Art*
Rubin Museum of Art
sepia EYE at Aperture Gallery*
Tally Beck Contemporary
Zürcher Studio

Sunday, March 27
Indo-American Arts Council at Queens Museum of Art

Monday, March 28
Asia Society and Museum*

Tuesday, March 29
China Institute*
Gallery Korea / Korean Cultural Service
Japan Society Gallery*
Leila Taghinia-Milani Heller Gallery*
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum*
Taipei Cultural Center

Wednesday, March 30
Asian Cultural Council at Location One
China Institute*

Thursday, March 31
Asia Art Archive at Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA)
Priska C. Juschka Fine Art

Sponsors: Asian Cultural Council and Sotheby’s
Media Sponsors: ArtAsiaPacific, artnet, and Art on Air

Contact us for more details!

Tarjama/Translation Opening

June 6, 2010 - filed under Exhibitions,Openings,Past Events   

TARJAMA/TRANSLATION: Contemporary Art from the Middle East, Central Asia & its Diasporas

Sharif Waked. Get Out of Here, 2009, Stencil on wall, 148 x 252 in. Courtesy of the artist


Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art

Cornell University

August 14 thru October 3, 2010

This groundbreaking exhibition, co-curated by Leeza Ahmady and Iftikhar Dadi, and assistant curated with Reem Fadda, was commissioned and organized by the New York non-profit art organization ArteEast, and initially exhibited at the Queens Museum of Art in Spring 2009.

Tarjama/Translation features the works of 28 Middle Eastern artists who explore processes of cultural and artistic translation from different angles.  Included in the theme is how multiple identities and affiliations are created and challenged, how people and places are connected through economics or politics, how different histories and traditions (including artistic) are interpreted, and the relationship between languages, images, and texts from different sources.

Gulsun Karamustafa. The City and Secret Panther Fashion, 2007, DVD, Projection, 13:00. Courtesy of the Artist


Ayad Alkadhi, Nazgol Ansarinia, Hamdi Attia, Lara Baladi, Yto Barrada, Esra Ersen, Khaled Hafez, Emily Jacir, Pouran Jinchi, John Jurayj, Gülsün Karamustafa, Bouchra Khalili, Almagul Menlibayeva, Farhad Moshiri, Rabih Mroue, Rahraw Omarzad, Michael Rakowitz, Khalil Rabah, Khaled Ramadan, Solmaz Shahbazi, Wael Shawky, Mitra Tabrizian, Alexander Ugay, Sharif Waked, Dilek Winchester, Yelena Vorobyeva & Viktor Vorobyev, Akram Zaatari

For full information and images, click here.

Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art
Cornell University
Central & University Aves.
Ithaca, NY 14853