What We Saw Upon Awakening

Lida Abdul

Lida Abdul – What We Saw Upon Awakening

October 4 – November 17, 2007
Opening Reception: Thursday October 4, 6-8 pm

** December 3rd, 2007 ** An Evening with Lida Abdul at MOMA (click for more information)

PRESS COVERAGE: ArtSlant interview / Time Out New York /

Location One presents the first New York exhibition by Afghan artist Lida Abdul. The exhibition, curated by Pieranna Cavalchini, Curator of Contemporary Art at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, features a film installation entitled “What We Saw Upon Awakening” [2006, 6:50, 16mm film transferred to DVD] .

Lida Abdul’s work is rooted in the devastation of war and in a sublimation of healing. In her videos, Afghani ruins appear as images from a dreamscape–both real and surreal–steeped in forgotten histories and mystery. To acknowledge a ruin in a war torn country, even to pick up a single stone, is to breathe life back into a culture that has been put on hold. The men and women in her films acknowledge their fate, striving to re-awaken by acts of sheer resilience and by compulsive repetitive gestures. Abdul’s films evoke survival and a path to recovery.

In What We Saw Upon Awakening the artist has created a surreal vision of the de-construction of a ruin. Remarkable for its compositional beauty and restraint, this film is a meditation on the aftermath of war, exposing the tangled after shocks of destruction, acceptance and renewal. In six minutes of classically framed and beautifully conceived cinematic shots, we watch as a group of men pull in a united effort on long white ropes, straining under this Herculean task. Slowly we grow aware that the ropes are tied to the stone walls of an actual house destroyed by a recent bombing in Kabul, which the men are striving to pull down. At first their efforts seem puny and ineffectual against impossible odds; their actions become a metaphor of all survivors’ attempt to deal with the devastation of war. Later the film ends with a burial ritual, symbolizing closure and a moment of communal healing when the ruins are finally put to rest so that life can begin anew.

This exhibition has been made possible with the generous support of the Board of Directors of Location One.


An Artist/Curator Talk will be held at Location One on Tuesday October 9th, at 7 pm
free to the public, no reservations needed


Lida Abdul bio

Born in Kabul, Afghanistan in 1973, Lida Abdul resides there now. She lived in Germany and India as a refugee when she was forced to leave Afghanistan after the former-Soviet invasion. Her work fuses the tropes of Western formalism with the numerous aesthetic traditions –Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu, pagan and nomadic– that collectively influenced Afghan art and culture. She has produced work in many media including video, film, photography, installation and live performance.

Her most recent work has been featured at the Venice Biennale 2005, São Paulo Biennial 2006, Gwanju Biennial 2006, Moscow Biennial 2007, Sharjah Biennial 2007, Istanbul Modern, Kunsthalle Vienna, Museum of Modern Art Arnhem, Netherlands and Miami Central, ICA, ZKM, Capc Bordeaux, CAC Centre d’Art Contemporain de Bretigny, and Frac Lorraine Metz, France. She has also exhibited in festivals in Mexico, Spain, Germany, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan. For the past few years, Abdul has been working in different parts of Afghanistan on projects exploring the relationship between architecture, identity and memory. In the upcoming year she will take part in the Gotenborg Biennial 2007 and solo show at (MANN) National Archeological Museum of Naples. Also in 2007 Ms. Abdul has been awarded the Prince Claus Fund and residency at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston. website >>