ArteEast 2012 Benefit Auction & Reception

October 19, 2012 - filed under Announcements,Upcoming Events   



Tickets will be available at a reduced rate of $125 till the day of the event, so we are urging people to buy now!

The silent and live auction includes works generously donated by artists:

Adel Abidin, Haig Aivazian, Abbas Akhavan, Jananne Al Ani, Tarek Al-Ghoussein, Daniele Genadry, Pouran Jinchi, John Jurayj, Nadia Kaabi-Linke, Mohammed Kazem, Huda Lutfi, Jumana Manna, Suleiman Mansour, Nabil Nahas, Ibrahim Quraishi, Michael Rakowitz, Zenib Sedira, Hassan Sharif, and Raed Yassin

Online bidding begins on November 19th through Paddle 8 ( and includes a “buy now” option that makes the auction available to international buyers who might not be able to attend the event in New York.

All proceeds to benefit ArteEast Residencies and Commissions

Please visit ArteEast Event Page for more information.

Interviews, Projects and Articles

August 30, 2012 - filed under Uncategorized   





Do Peripheries Become Center? An Interview with Leeza Ahmady

Art: 21 Inside the Artist’s Studio

Artist & writer Georgia Kotretsos interviewed Leeza Ahmady as part of the monthly Art: 21 Blog, Inside the Artist’s Studio, (published in two part April and August 2012) about her curatorial work spanning over a decade of exhibitions, research, and public programs that are collaborative by design, and centered on creating educational experiences for the public around the practices of diverse artists and arts organizations in the US and abroad. In addition to subjects such as studio visits as forms of exhibition, art, history, and illusions about peripheries and centers, the interview includes reflections on triumphs and woes of dOCUMENTA (13) Kabul Seminars and Exhibition, in retrospect to Ahmady’s recent role, as member of dOCUMENTA (13) Agents team.

Part I April, 2012

Part II August, 2012
Art in A Bordered Up City: Kabul, Afghanistan
ICI Dispatch

Septembert 24th thru November 24th

As part of Independent Curators International (ICI) online journal, Dispatch, Ahmady will download her  insights, reflections, predictions, and lingering inquiries as experienced during two comprehensive trips to Kabul in 2012 (Feb. & June). Bearing witness to the full gamut of cultural production, Ahmady caught sight of both current realities and possible futures for visual and performing arts, film, music, and historic preservation.  Through contributions of texts, anecdotes, images, audio and video clips, this Dispatch will present readers a poetic glimpse into the many exciting artists and initiatives happening on the ground in Afghanistan, with the aim of inspiring further, deeper engagement and research endeavors by others.


Dialogues in Contemporary Art: John Menick and Yusuf Misdaq

Take 3 @

ICI, Tuesday October 16th, 7-8:30 pm

401 Broadway, Suite 1620 New York, NY 10013

In what promises to be yet another invigorating discussion, Ahmady, brings together John Menick and Yusuf Misdaq. Two brilliant artists with very different backgrounds whose individual perspectives on artistic activity allow for the making of heartfelt works that are simultaneously process based, conceptually vigorous, and seamlessly span across mediums: writing, sound, film, and more.


Dialogues in Contemporary Art: Murtaza Vali

Take 4 @

ICI, Tuesday December 4th, 7-8:30 pm

401 Broadway, Suite 1620 New York, NY 10013

 Murtaza Vali speaks about the multiplicity of his practice as he persistently blurs the lines between writer, critic and curator.  An Indian citizen having never lived in India, Vali’s position based between the UAE and US informs his work and may catalyze his role as guest curator for the 2013 Abraaj Capital Art Prize, the only art prize dedicated to artists from the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia.


In Residence

Cambodia: Artist Residencies April through May 2013

Co-curated as part of Season of Cambodia – a multi-disciplinary arts festival in NYC. New perspectives on history and contemporaneity through a dynamic map of artists’ residencies most critically involved in shaping Cambodia’s unique contemporary art scene. Nine select artists and one curator, both male and female, local and diaspora, will spend two months in residencies throughout NYC (Bose Pacia, LMCC, Residency Unlimited, and more). Working across a range of practices and born between 1970 and 1987, during the US military bombing campaign, the Khmer Rouge era and Vietnamese occupation, the artists interpret their common legacy of survival from personal and historical angles, while addressing cultural changes and the effects of urban development. Complementing the interactive scope of the residency program will be a series of open studio events, installations, screenings, public conversations, and performances.


Listen to:

 Dialogues in Contemporary Art, Past Takes

Leeza Ahmady And Mariam Ghani on their dOCUMENTA (13) Notebooks-Vyacheslav Akhunov and Afghanistan: A Lexicon

Hitomi Iwasaki Asia & Herb Tam: Asia & The Caribbean



In Conversation at Asian Art Museum San Francisco

July 8, 2012 - filed under Upcoming Events   

Artist Mariam Ghani speaks to independent curator Leeza Ahmady about the phantoms in her work, from the specters of real but repressed histories, to the horrors that haunt the edges of present politics, to the conceivable but unrealized futures that manifest as possible spaces hovering above or alongside actual, traversable spaces. Ghani and Ahmady will also discuss their work in Afghanistan, sharing their perspectives on their participation in dOCUMENTA (13)’s initiative in Kabul and Bamiyan, which included a series of seminars (Feb-June) and an exhibition at the Bagh-e-Babur Gardens in Kabul.

Ghani’s work addresses the intersections of place, memory, history, language, and loss, as seen in her recent video installation A Brief History of Collapses, commissioned by dOCUMENTA (13). The two-channel video traverses the ruined Dar-ul Aman Palace in Kabul and the restored Museum Fridericianum in Kassel, Germany in two parallel courses, in order to explore both similarities and differences in their structures, histories and myths. Ghani’s research-based practice also informs her recent publication Afghanistan: A Lexicon, a nonlinear history of 20th-century Afghanistan, and her Sharjah Biennial 10 commission The Trespassers, a video, sound and archive installation that examines the overlaps between translation, treason and trespass in the ‘global war on terror.’

Ahmady’s recent dynamic role as part of the dOCUMENTA (13) Agents team involved leading a series of workshops in Kabul spanning art theory, perspectives on international contemporary art, and the building of a critical art magazine. Noted for her ongoing curatorial efforts to contextualize and exhibit works of Central Asian artists, Ahmady is at the forefront of an influx of activities in the region, paving the way for extended opportunities for artists in their home countries and abroad. Since 2005, she has been the director of Asian Contemporary Art Week (ACAW), a biennial event initiated by Asian Contemporary Art Consortium (ACAC), New York, comprising a series of special exhibitions, lectures, and performances at leading city museums and galleries such as the Asia Society, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and the Museum of Modern Art.

Asian Art Museum
Samsung Hall
200 Larkin St.
San Francisco, CA 94102


An event of ACAC San Francisco:


Artist / Agent Conversations at dOCUMENTA (13)

May 29, 2012 - filed under Announcements,Upcoming Events   

Artist / Agent Conversations at dOCUMENTA (13)

Kassel, Germany

Mariam Ghani, still from A Brief History of Collapses, 2011-12.

For 100 days, over 150 artists from 55 countries, and other participants from around the world, will gather and present artworks of all mediums, curatorial projects, as well as other objects and experiments in the fields of art, politics, literature, philosophy, and science.

Please join dOCUMENTA (13) Agent and Independent Curator, Leeza Ahmady as she speaks with participating artists about their commissions, and projects during opening days of the exhibition.

As part of the Maybe Education and Public Programs, a program of talks between agents and artists will be taking place during the opening week, June 6-10th, 2012.  These talks are intended to activate the exhibition spaces of dOCUMENTA (13) and open dialogues with the many participants of the project and its diverse audiences.   Scheduled every hour, on a small mobile stage in the proximity of the artistic project.

Thursday, June 7th @ 4 PM: Barmak Akram

Afghan artist and filmmaker Barmak Akram will discuss his installation consisting of the presentation of a selection of his “phyto-morphic” cuttings from popular press, accompanied by a new video installation shot mid-way between Kabul and Bamiyan. (Karlsaue Park)

Friday, June 8th @ 2:30 PM: Sopheap Pich

Cambodian artist Sopheap Pich creates biomorphic sculptures and installations that address issues of time, memory, and the body, often relating to his childhood memories of life during the Khmer Rouge period. Pich and Ahmady will discuss his new “Relief” paintings, a series of rattan and bamboo works that recall his original training as a painter.   (Fridericianum)

Friday, June 8th @ 7 PM: Masood Kamandy

Masood Kamandy will talk about his project Superpositional.  The installation, which takes its title from particle physics, explores the collapsing of time and space through the photographic process. (Oberste Gasse 4)

Saturday, June 9th @ 6 PM: Khadim Ali

Khadim Ali creates intense collage-like miniature paintings which convey the complex history of Afghanistan.  Ali and Ahmady will discuss his project “Haunted Lotus,” a four-panel work that incorporates scenes from the Persian epic Shahnameh and classical miniature techniques to allude to the persecution of Hazara people by the Taliban and the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas. (Neue Galerie)

Monday, June 10th @ 1 PM: Mariam Ghani

Mariam Ghani will discuss her latest video installation commissioned by dOCUMENTA (13), which takes as its subjects the ruined Dar-ul Aman Palace in Kabul, and the restored Museum Fridericianum in Kassel.  The two-channel video installation A Brief History of Collapses, traverses the two buildings in parallel courses to explore both similarities and differences in their structures, histories, and myths. (Friericianum)

Also, do not miss viewing work by artists Vyacheslav Akhunov, Amar Kanwar, Wael Shawky, Michael Rackowitz, Rahraw Omarzad, Zalmai, Tejal Shaw, and Bani Abadi at dOCUMENTA (13).

For more information about these conversations and Ahmady’s other dOCUMENTA (13) related projects please contact us at

For more information about dOCUMENTA (13) please visit: 


May 25, 2012 - filed under Announcements   












dOCUMENTA (13) “100 Thoughts – 100 Notes”

Vyacheslav Akhunov, with an introduction by Leeza Ahmady

Released in April 2012

During the Soviet regime, the artist, author, and philosopher Vyacheslav Akhunov hid his notebooks in stables and barns, in murals and matchboxes. For the artist, the notebook is an autonomous artistic medium. Between 1973 and 2000, he archived more than three thousand of his ironic, visionary drawings and collages on paper for two hundred projects. In this notebook, one finds excerpts from works dated between 1974 and 1982. Leeza Ahmady’s introduction to Akhunov’s drawings and collages, which the artist refers to as “art-facts,” interprets and reveals these as sensitive forebodings of the fall of the socialist era and as a contemporary document conceived to outlast the present. Vyacheslav Akhunov was born in 1948 in Osh, Kyrgyzstan. Leeza Ahmady is a freelance curator living in New York; she is the director of the New York Asian Contemporary Art Week and Agent of dOCUMENTA (13).

To order a copy of this and other exciting dOCUMENTA (13) notebooks, visit Hatje Cantz in Europe and ARTBOOK in the USA.

Dialogues in Contemporary Art: Take 2 @ ICI

April 19, 2012 - filed under Upcoming Events   

Dialogues in Contemporary Art: Take 2

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

Artist Mariam Ghani and Independent Curator and dOCUMENTA (13) Agent Leeza Ahmady speak about their contributions to the dOCUMENTA (13) “100 Notes- 100 Thoughts” notebook series, and share their perspectives on the recent influx of international art activities in Kabul, Afghanistan. This event will also launch Ghani and Ahmady’s notebooks in New York.

Ghani’s notebook, Afghanistan: A Lexicon, was co-authored with her father, the anthropologist and political scientist Ashraf Ghani. The notebook uses the form of a lexicon to construct a non-linear and somewhat speculative history of 20th-century Afghanistan, with an emphasis on recurrences, continuities, and spatial politics. The lexicon includes definitions for seventy-one terms, most of which are illustrated with archival or original images. The notebook’s point of departure is a detailed reflection on the reign of King Amanullah (1919–29), whose successes and failures set the pattern for the cycle of repeated reforms, collapses, and recoveries that Afghanistan would undergo throughout the 20th century.

Ahmady’s notebook focuses on Vyacheslav Akhunov, an artist who has been actively conceptualizing and producing artworks in Tashkent, Uzbekistan since the early 1970’s. Though his artistic oeuvre spans many media, Ahmady hones in on Akhunov’s vast archive of personal notebooks containing some 3,000 pages of drawings and text recorded in secret between 1974 and 2000. Often unable to realize physical art projects during the Soviet Regime, these notebooks became Akhunov’s primary mode of unrestrained expression, invention, critique, and exploration. Ahmady’s dOCUMENTA(13) contribution contextualizes and shares excerpts from this massive index of one artist’s unrelenting creative momentum for the first time in an international forum.

Mariam Ghani is a Brooklyn-based artist whose research-based practice examines places, spaces and moments where social and political structures take on visible and tangible forms. Ghani’s work in video and installation has been screened and exhibited internationally, at venues including Modern Monday’s at MoMA, NYC (2011), the Sharjah Biennials 9 and 10 (2011, 2009), the Beijing 798 Biennial (2009), the National Gallery, Washington DC (2008), the Tate Modern, London (2007), d/Art, Sydney (2006), Futura, Prague (2005), the Liverpool Biennial (2004), and transmediale, Berlin (2003).

Leeza Ahmady is an Independent Art Curator and Educator. She is Director of Asian Contemporary Art Week, a biennial of exhibitions and public programs at major museums and galleries in New York. She is an Agent for dOCUMENTA (13) exhibition (Kassel Germany 2012) and a founding board member for Center for Contemporary Arts Afghanistan, (CCAA).

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

These events are open to the public, but seating is limited. Reception follows. RSVP suggested at with event title, Take 2 in the subject field.

Important Announcement from ACAW

March 29, 2012 - filed under Announcements   

Please note that there is no Asian Contemporary Art Week program taking place in New York City in 2012. Please continue to visit our website and follow us on Facebook for news, updates on the next round of events, and to learn how to get involved.

For all collaborators and past participants, please pay attention to the change in our web address to If the old address appears in any of your own web materials, we request that this be updated as soon as possible.

For all other inquiries, programming, and participation interest contact us at:

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


May 17, 2011 - filed under Upcoming Events   

dOCUMENTA (13) is a series of artistic acts and gestures that are already taking place as well as an exhibition that will open on June 9, 2012, and that will run for 100 days. dOCUMENTA (13) does not follow a single, overall concept but engages in conducting, and choreographing manifold materials, methods, and knowledges.

Curatorial Team and Process

dOCUMENTA (13) is being planned by artistic director Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev with a number of agents, advisors, and artists. Throughout 2009 and 2010, Christov-Bakargiev traveled and lectured widely, building up a group of people with whom the process is shared. More than half of the participating artists have already been invited and are preparing projects for dOCUMENTA (13).

The dOCUMENTA (13) Agents contribute in various ways, and have different degrees of engagement. Some work more closely and consistently, others more loosely and occasionally, so as to create a generative process that is organic and affective, open to change. The Agents may increase during the upcoming years, and constitute an unstable curatorial entity. “In small systems,” states Christov-Bakargiev, “an agent acts by proxy, and chooses among a number of alternatives, so that agency is delegated, thus implying an element of uncertainty through which the system works. An agent, in biology, precipitates a reaction, and in fiction, an agent suggests someone who is hidden or undercover, never fully revealing identity. Agere, in Latin, is to act.” Currently, the Agents are Leeza Ahmady, Ayreen Anastas & Rene Gabri, Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy, Sunjung Kim, Koyo Kouoh, Joasia Krysa, Marta Kuzma, Raimundas Malašauskas, Chus Martínez, Lívia Páldi, Hetti Perkins, Eva Scharrer, Kitty Scott, and Andrea Viliani.

What is dOCUMENTA (13) about?

Questions of personal and collective emancipation through art emerge in the process of making dOCUMENTA (13) by thinking through a number of composite ontologies that generate paradoxical conditions of contemporary life and artistic production. These include:

  • participation and withdrawal as simultaneous modes of existence today;
  • embodiment and disembodiment, and their mutual dependency;
  • rootedness and homelessness, as a dual condition of subjecthood;
  • proximity and distance, and their relativity;
  • collapse and recovery, occurring simultaneously as well as in succession;
  • the flood of uncontrolled information and the contemporaneous obsession with control and organization;
  • translation and untranslatability, and their negotiation;
  • inclusion and exclusion, and their connectedness;
  • access and inaccessibility, and their co-existence;
  • the obsolescence of a Eurocentric notion of art and the paradoxical emergence of practices related to that same notion in the world at large today;
  • human life and other forms of life facing multi-species entangled  histories;
  • advanced science/technology and its alliance with ancient traditions;
  • tangible and intangible heritage and their interconnectedness with contemporary culture;
  • the specificity of being an artist and the non-specificity of artistic practice.

Exploring this set of composite ontologies and considerations, the exhibition will be held in various locations and places, and will include new works by more than 100 artists from around the world. In some cases, these will be presented as parts of projects with other artists, agents, or persons active in cultural fields including science and literature. Furthermore, a number of historical artworks will be exhibited in these interrelated ideas, conversations, and parallel stories.

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