Edmund Clark is one of the most interesting artists working today, exploring what is arguably the defining issue of the past 13 years. He’s interested in the wars waged by the USA and UK in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the fall-out from this foreign policy and how it impacts on us here at home. His new book The Mountains of Majeed continues this theme, as it’s a reflection on “the end of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan through photography, found imagery and Taliban poetry.”
Edmund discovered that most of the military personnel and contractors who are part of the western operation live extremely sheltered lives in high-security compounds and so set about looking at Afghanistan through this strange prism. Alongside the photographs taken in and around bases like Bagram Airfield, Edmund also focuses on the paintings of an artist named Majeed that hang on the walls of a dining room in Bagram. With typical skill and invention, Edmund is looking at this complex set of issues through the visual motif of the Hindu Kush mountains.
Though they loom on the horizon, the westerners never get to explore them; instead they are re-appropriated into all manner of pictures and murals for conference centre walls. Of course the Afghanistan war has helped change the cultural associations we make with mountains, as dangerous lawless lairs that shelter fugitives like Osama Bin Laden, and Edmund’s book raises interesting, unsettling questions about the euphemistically named Enduring Freedom.The Mountains of Majeed published by Here Press is available now.
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