3 October 2020 – 24 January 2021
Opening: 2 October 2020
The Han Nefkens Foundation, in collaboration with the Fundació Antoni Tàpies, is glad to present the first solo exhibition of Afghan artist Aziz Hazara.
The exhibition, titled The Restless Echo of Tomorrow, is the result of the Mentorship Grant awarded to Hazara by the Han Nefkens Foundation in 2019 that aims to support artists in all aspects of production. The grant has enabled Hazara to be one of the residents at the Higher Institute for Fine Arts (HISK) in Ghent, Belgium.
Curated by Sona Stepanyan and Hilde Teerlinck, The Restless Echo of Tomorrow at the Fundació Antoni Tàpies will show three recent works produced by the Han Nefkens Foundation. They include the critically acclaimed Bow Echo 2019 – a five-channel video installation that was featured for the first time at the Biennale of Sydney 2020 - in addition to the premiere of recently produced Rehearsal (2020) as well as Eyes in the Sky (2020), both single-channel video work
Han Nefkens, Founder of the Han Nefkens Foundation: “Aziz Hazara’s videos—which show us the terrible reality of war in his country—always have a strong impact, yet at the same time his poetic language conveys a sense of beauty.”
Born in the province of Wardak, close to Kabul in Afghanistan in 1992, Hazara works across mediums such as photography, video, sound, programming languages, text and multimedia installations. His works in this exhibition feature young boys whom have grown up within a context of violence and war. The actions that Hazara stages with the young boys for the camera explore the relationship between the young people depicted and the distressing places that form their playground.
“My interest in the issues of memory, archive, surveillance, the panopticon and the politics of representation, is deeply en-trenched in the geopolitics and the never-ending conflict that afflicts my native Afghanistan. The relevance of such issues, however, overcome geographical specificities and appeal to a contemporary condition that is globally shared.” Aziz Hazara
Bow Echo is titled after a dangerous and highly destructive storm. The film depicts five boys as they try to climb onto a rocky outcrop to blow into small, plastic bugles that they are holding. As they fight to complete their task they are battered by the strong winds and intimidating sounds of helicopters and drones close by but out of sight. Though the boys are playing, the physicality and sheer strength of their surroundings gives a sense of the transience and preciousness of life.
Rehearsal – premiering at the Fundació Antoni Tàpies – shows one boy carrying a smaller boy on his shoulders. The smaller boy mimes shooting a gun, whilst the boy whose shoulders he is sitting on swiv-els expressionless from left to right as if a part of the machinery. Whilst this may seem like normal play for the two boys, those familiar with military weaponry will recognize the accuracy and familiarity of the imitation of a Burst Assault Rifle. What is he rehearsing for? Is he a gunner or is he a pawn?
In Eyes in the Sky Hazara coopts the optics of surveillance and military reconnaissance as he examines one manifestation of children's play in contemporary Afghanistan: the transformation of the remnants of war into yet another desert obstacle course. In this film Hazara explores military conflict through the rituals and customs that define and connect many of Afghanistan's many fragmented and intermingled ethnic communities.
Viewed together Rehearsal and Eyes in the Sky form a diptych of play derived of innocence, raising the questions of what and who is missing from these barren landscapes, and what does it mean for these boys to play ‘war’ when war has surrounded them since birth?
Hazara will have a solo exhibition at the Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève in 2021, with a selection of works including new productions.