Lida Abdul | Afghanistan

In Transit, 2008

Single-Channel Video
Color / Sound
4.55 minutes

Courtesy of Galleria Persano, Turin

Lida Abdul's video works bring to light the poignant stoicism of the way the people of Afghanistan are dealing with a long history of violence.

In Abdul's video works, different types of ruins serve as metaphors for the state of Afghanistan, taking the form of bombed houses, abandoned vehicles and hurt animals. Abdul recruits her videos' participants from those she meets on the streets of Kabul and surrounding areas, and she often engages the participation of local children.

The videos explore the complex interrelation between a city's inhabitants and its architecture, and also between architecture and memory.

"Why can't a ruin itself be transformed into a meditation on something other – a non-referential work of art – a visual or sculptural poem that one hopes will open up new spaces for rethinking about society, about ethics and identity itself?" Abdul has said in reference to her work.

"For me the most difficult thing is precisely to go past the memory of an event; my works are the forms of my failed attempts to, what others call, transcend. But where? For me art is always a petition for another world, a momentary shattering of what is comfortable so that we become more sophisticated in reclaiming the present. The new wandering souls of the globe, the new global protestors – stubborn, weak, persecuted, strong – will continue to make art as long as people believe in easy solutions and closures of the most banal kinds", says the artist.

Abdul's video work In Transit features school children filling a military airplane's voids with cotton, attaching ropes, and attempting to fly the airplane like a kite.

In Abdul's words: "It's really a playful piece, a fantasy piece, with a group of kids who are playing with a very old Russian plane, that was left over years ago. I was really struck by this piece because it looks between a plane and a bird. It's like a skeleton almost…" The harsh reality of the destruction of war is counterpointed by the hope in the future represented by the children – the most innocent creatures. "I want to bring out the beauty of the tragic way in which children face violent scenarios and show how they can be flexible in similar conditions with their innocence, by creating an antidote to the tragedy of their condition. Without children playing and running through the streets of Kabul, Afghanistan today would be even more violent than it is."