DUE TO UNFORESEEN EVENTS, THIS SYMPOSIUM IS CANCELLED.
On Thursday 5 July at 6.30 pm the Van Abbemuseum will be holding a symposium with Wali Akbar, director of the National Gallery in Kabul, Afghanistan. Akbar will explain the challenges the National Gallery faces in a country ravaged by successive wars and occupations. After this a discussion will be held with Charles Esche, director of the Van Abbemuseum, examining some of the practices of Afghan artists and institutions. There will be a particular focus on Afghanistan in the current dOCUMENTA (13) exhibition in Kassel, as a part of it is taking place in Kabul.
The symposium is part of the Afghan Research Project being carried out by the Van Abbemuseum. Following the symposium, a small-size exhibition documenting elements of the Afghan Research Project will open in the basement of the museum. Akbar has bought with him a series of works by leading Afghan artists that will also form part of the display.
The Van Abbemuseum initiated the Afghan Research Project in 2009 as a means to engage with the culture of Afghanistan, and to convey the artistic life of a country ravaged by successive wars and occupations. The project is led by Van Abbemuseum employee Shafiq Omar, off Afghan origin, and director Charles Esche. The ongoing initiative has brought in different actors working in Afghanistan to ask how and why a European museum might engage meaningfully with a country that has become synonymous with conflict.
In March 2011 a symposium was held at the Van Abbemuseum, involving a number of artists, curators and professionals including Ammanullah Mujadidi, Robert Kluijver, Jemima Montagu and Jeanno Gaussi, to discuss how the project could develop. Interviews with these participants are now included as part of the display in the museum and can be heard on the monitors, as well as footage of the symposium itself.
The invitation for Wali Akbar for this symposium follows on from this, to exchange knowledge between his museum - with a collection of 20th century works, mainly paintings - and the Van Abbemuseum. The Van Abbemuseum hopes that this exchange will lead to fruitful collaborations in the future.