Samdani Art Foundation

UNTITLED GARDEN #1 | 2015-2016



February 5-8, 2016  |  AMANULLAH MOJADIDI  |  Dhaka Art Summit

Amanullah Mojadidi, Untitled Garden #1, 2015-2016. Commissioned and produced by the Samdani Art Foundation for the Dhaka Art Summit 2016. Courtesy of the artist. Dhaka Art Summit and Samdani Art Foundation. Photo credit: Jenni Carter

Untitled Garden #1 by Amanullah Mojadidi opens up a space to think about the role misunderstandings play in shaping history and the way we view our place in the world. Neon Katakana Japanese characters in this garden spell the word Mu, referring to a state of “nothingness” or “nonbeing” in Zen Buddhism. Mu, however, is also the name of what several pseudoscientists believed was the lost continent and civilisation of Mu, a white race civilisation that fell into the ocean but whose descendants became the great early cultures around the world, including in India. The neon crown in the garden refers to a sacred symbol of this lost Kingdom of Mu, representing "The Lands of the West." In this work, the Japanese definition of Mu is a place with an absence of desire; the second symbol of Mu illustrates what happens with the human desire to explain what they cannot understand.

Mojadidi’s Zen Garden explores the hidden dangers of how Eurocentric institutions present themselves as “discoverers” of art from conflicted/developing countries, and creates parallels between the colonial anthropologist discovering the noble savage in exotic lands and the Western curator discovering the noble artist in equally exotic locales. Mojadidi takes a sarcastic approach toward the Afghan and American culture that he comes from, and stereotypes surrounding identity and the capitalism around conflict. “We are all at conflict,” shares Mojadidi, “Whether with others or ourselves, with our own ideas, thoughts, desires, history, present, future. We are all at conflict as we try and navigate ourselves through a life we understand only through our experiences, through our confrontation both internal and external with social, political, cultural, and personal strife.”