I encountered Dread Scott’s curious flag project, “Flags Are Very Popular These Days” (2011), on Facebook and was fascinated by its simplicity. Last month, the artist placed the flags of four nations (Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Pakistan) on overpasses in upstate New York. These symbols of pride for four Muslim-majority countries— two of which America is currently (and officially) at war with — must have felt jarring to passersby who may not have been able to recognize their meaning or discerned their origins.
In this week’s recommended reading … photo essays on Afghanistan and the death of Osama bin Laden, a profile of Barbara Kruger, art won’t make you unemployed, how death (or imprisonment) changes an artist’s work, Hans Ulrich Obrist talks to Julian Assange, and a profile of suspected WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning.
Though the National Museum of Afghanistan is nowhere near running at full capacity and still hasn’t recovered many of the artifacts lost from its collections in the upheaval of the past decade, a touring exhibition of some of the museum’s signature works is bringing both funding and visibility to a museum and an issue badly in need of both. Currently on display at the British Museum through July 3, the touring artifacts included in the Afghanistan: Crossroads of the Ancient World exhibition have brought in over $2.25 million in revenue to the National Museum of Afghanistan.
When it came to light that the newest release in EA’s Medal of Honor video game series contained a mode in which players could choose to fight as a group named the Taliban, and the US Army was understandably not too happy about it. After all, they had previously been cooperating on developing the game, allowing EA access to military equipment for rendering as well as aiding in the recording of sounds for the game. Yet the thinking behind this pressure from the Army and EA’s final decision to remove the game mode is more complicated than it seems.
Last June, artist Steve Mumford visited the National Gallery in Kabul to explore the artistic heritage of the war-torn nation. He has written a short account of his visit — along with a few dozen photographs of what he saw — for Artnet.
While it became a worldwide symbol of the cruel Taliban regime and its intolerance towards difference, the destroyed colossal Buddha of Afghanistan’s Bamiyan valley has inspired a small exhibition which opened last Saturday at Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum.