June 15, 2023 - June 18, 2023
COOPER COLE is pleased to present a solo exhibition tilted Quiet Resistance by Afghan-Canadian artist Hangama Amiri at Art Basel 2023.
Hangama Amiri works in textile to create images that reflect on ideas of home, and how everyday objects are imbued with cultural memory. These works foreground the day to day events and contexts of Afghan women—both in Afghanistan and abroad— in the wake of the Taliban’s rise to power that has severely limited how women navigate social spaces. Amiri highlights intimate moments between women that are pregnant with emotive complexities and political undertones, and suggests the resiliency of the women.
Trained in painting, Amiri takes a painterly approach to her textile compositions. Sourcing most of her materials from an Afghan-owned store in New York’s fashion district, the artist looks for fabrics as one would look for oils and acrylics. Colour, texture, and composition remain central, but Amiri’s interest in textile is rooted in the medium’s flexibility, functionality, and intimacy. Her approach is also a reinterpretation of traditional Afghan techniques as a way of celebrating the talents of contemporary Afghan women. Amiri recalls visiting Kabul before the Taliban regime occupied the city, and admiring how local women were mixing traditional and modern fabrics when they went out into public spaces, which, in her words, inspired her to use “traditional Afghan embroidered fabrics—like those worn by women during their wedding ceremonies—alongside more modern fabrics such as denim and polyester, which [she is] especially fond of because of its shimmering surface.” In addition, textile, according to the artist, awakens the senses because of its relationship to the body, insinuations of touch, and its ability to carry memories.
The works in this presentation depict intimate moments between women: conversing, eating, and grooming. These exchanges represent the strength and resilience of women, specifically that of the Taliban over the last year. In the safety of private space, the exchanging oral histories, gossip, food, and other items of comfort create strong bonds that cannot be controlled or affected by political regimes; they are stabilizing gestures. At the same time, Amiri does not idealize these stories, having come from Kabul herself, and understanding that beneath these gatherings is deep worry, isolation, and desires for freedom. The artist notes, ‘Women in Afghanistan are now more than ever rightly worried about their future, identity, and autonomy in their society. I will continue to reference these women’s taste in fashion, self-empowerment, beautification, and economic power in my work as a way to honour how Afghan women always look more towards progressive change amidst the instability and change around them.”
Hangama Amiri (b. 1989, Peshawar, Afghanistan) works predominantly in textile to create images that reflect on ideas of home. Using a painterly approach to colour and materials, Amiri reflects on how everyday objects are imbued with cultural memory. Amiri holds an MFA from Yale University and a BFA from NSCAD University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She was a Canadian Fulbright and Post-Graduate Fellow at Yale University School of Art and Sciences, and has completed residencies at the Banff Centre for Arts & Creativity, Joya AiR Residency Program in Almería, Spain, World of CO Residency program in Sofia, Bulgaria, and at Long Road Projects in Jacksonville, Florida. Amiri won the 2011 Lieutenant Governor’s Community Volunteerism Award and the 2013 Portia White Protege Award.
She has exhibited internationally at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield; Hayy Jameel, Jeddah; Aga Khan Museum, Cooper Cole, Toronto; The Moody Centre for the Arts, Houston; Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa; Carl Kostyál, Hospitalet, Stockholm; Sharjah Biennial 15, Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah; Sevil Dolmaci Gallery, Istanbul; Kunstraum Potsdam, Potsdam; Fondazione Imago Mundi, Treviso; Villa Panza, Varese; T293 Gallery, Rome; New Museum, Albertz Benda, Charles Moffett Gallery, New York; Banff Centre for Arts & Creativity, Banff; Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver; and Paramo Gallery, Guadalajara; among others. Amiri lives and works in New Haven, Connecticut, USA.
Portrait of Two Artists looking at Art Book
Portrait of Two Artists looking at Art Book, 2023
Muslin, cotton, chiffon, polyester, silk, sari, velvet, linen, polyester, and suede
Hold On, 2023
Muslin, cotton, chiffon, suede, linen, polyester, silk, denim, printed fabric, and gauze fabric
Noon, Still-life with Salad and Qabeli Palaw
Noon, Still-life with Salad and Qabeli Palaw , 2023
Muslin, cotton, chiffon, silk, denim, polyester, and suede