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Indianapolis Museum of Art showcases powerful video by artist Mariam Ghani
Mariam Ghani, The City & The City, 2015, inkjet print, 30 x 45 in. Courtesy of the artist and RYAN LEE, New York.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN.- A powerful work by video artist Mariam Ghani is now on display at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Created in response to the social unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, The City & The City acts as an arresting commentary on the critical issues of our time.

Narrated from the perspective of a murdered character, the video uses the environment of St. Louis to explore the themes of China Miéville’s noir novel of the same name. The novel portrays a city so fractured that it is effectively perceived and experienced by its residents as two separate cities. Ghani’s video, The City & The City (2015), serves as a modern allegory for the way many racially and economically divided cities often function. Repeated imagery of broken mirrors and abandoned buildings is used to symbolize the social divisions, inequalities and violence plaguing many modern American cities, as evidenced by the events that occurred this summer in Baton Rouge, suburban St. Paul and Dallas.

The City & The City is the final video installation in the IMA exhibition Mariam Ghani + Erin Ellen Kelly: Water, Land, City, a trilogy of works by Ghani in collaboration with choreographer and performer Erin Ellen Kelly. With each work on display for a four month period, The City & The City succeeds Like Water from a Stone (2014) and Landscape Studies: New Mexico (2008-2010), which explore respectively the landscapes of the Norwegian coast and New Mexico. Ghani’s evocative videos featuring diverse architectural and natural landscapes examine the distinct history and culture of each place. Known for her visually captivating imagery, Ghani’s videos create an all-encompassing experience for the viewer, using landscape, sound and the human body to tell a unique story of the site. In The City & The City, choreography by Erin Ellen Kelly, original score by composer and musician Qasim Naqvi and narration performed by Derek Laney, blend with Ghani’s striking visuals to tell the story of the city.

“In all her work, Ghani offers an exceptional consistency of artistic vision—an arrestingly beautiful aesthetic merged with a deep understanding of her chosen site,” said Tricia Y. Paik, curator of contemporary art at the IMA. “Ghani diligently researches her subject matter and renders each place through distinctly and memorably composed frames that allows the viewer to grasp the narrative she is shaping through minimal information. I believe Ghani is one of the best video artists of her generation.”

The IMA will host a public conversation with Mariam Ghani, Erin Ellen Kelly and Paik on Oct. 20. Ghani will also work with the IMA’s Teen Arts Council on a special project this fall. Using what they learn from their time with Ghani, Council members will create a participatory experience for the public to enjoy.

The video is on display in the Lori Efroymson Aguilera and Sergio Aguilera Gallery until Nov. 6.

Born in 1978 in New York, Ghani received her BA from New York University and her MFA from the School of Visual Arts, New York. Her work has been shown at significant group exhibitions and film festivals, such as Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2016); 42nd International Film Festival, Rotterdam, Netherlands (2013); Documenta 13, Kassel, Germany (2012); Sharjah Biennal 9 and 10, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates (2009 and 2011); Creative Time, New York (2008); and The New York Film Festival, Film Society of Lincoln Center, New York (2003). Solo presentations include an exhibition at the Saint Louis Art Museum (2014) and a program at Modern Mondays, The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2011). The artist lives and works in New York and is represented by RYAN LEE, New York.

Born in 1976 in St. Louis, Kelly is a dancer, performer and choreographer. Her solo and collaborative performances have been featured at numerous festivals, exhibitions and alternative spaces, such as Kunsthaus Tacheles for A Month of Performance Art and Kultur im Spannwerk, Berlin (2012); Documenta 13, Kassel, Germany (2012); Art Basel, Miami Beach (2012); Movement Research at Judson Church, New York (2007 and 2012); the New York Butoh Festival (2007 and 2009); and 57th Street Our Time, New York and Berlin (2007 and 2009). The artist lives and works in New York.

Kelly and Ghani have worked as collaborators since 2006.

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