Aman Mojadidi

American artist of Afghan descent (born 1971)
Aman Mojadidi
Jacksonville 22, Florida, United States

Aman Mojadidi (born 1971) is an American visual artist of Afghan descent[1] known for his public art projects exploring Afghan politics and cross-cultural identity. Mojadidi has referred to himself as "Afghan by blood, redneck by the grace of God."[2] His work has been shown internationally in contemporary art exhibitions such as dOCUMENTA (13) and the Kochi-Muziris Biennale.[3][4]


Afghan by Blood, Redneck by the Grace of God - Just a trim, 2011

Mojadidi was born and grew up in Jacksonville, Florida. His father went back to Afghanistan each summer to help fight the Soviet occupation as a combat surgeon.[5] Mojadidi visited Afghanistan for the first time in 1990, when he made a visit to the front lines with his uncle, Sibghatullah Mojaddedi, the prominent Afghan mujahid who was once president of Afghanistan and has been a member of its upper parliament.[6]

Mojadidi visited Afghanistan again in 2001 after the fall of the Taliban, and moved there in 2003 to work with an NGO involved in efforts to rebuild the country.[5][7] In recent years he has been active in Kabul's art scene and has been credited for playing a crucial role in its resurgence.[8] Mojadidi curated a 2012 Documenta exhibit in Kabul which showcased 12 contemporary Afghan artists,[8] and has worked with young Afghans in graffiti art.[6] At times he has been critical of Afghanistan's reliance on foreign aid. He has said that "a truly sustainable approach would probably be for Afghan artists to form collectives and organise exhibitions on their own initiative."[8]


A Day in the Life of a Jihadi Gangster After a Long Day's Work, 2010.
A Day in the Life of a Jihadi Gangster Dressing for Work, 2010.
Parliamentary Campaign Poster, Jihadi Gangster in the 2010 elections.

With his art, Mojadidi says he aims to make something that "disturbs identity and challenges authority."[9] For one of his first performance art installations, in 2009, Mojadidi set up a fake checkpoint in Kabul. Dressed as an Afghan policeman, he filmed himself searching cars and offering drivers $2, in what he described as a "reverse bribe."[6][7][10]

In 2010, Mojadidi invented a character called the "Jihadi Gangster" as a satire of what he saw as jihad's "Street cred" (credibility) in modern Afghan culture, which he connected to the American concept of "bling."[6] In a series of photos and posters, Mojadidi dressed up as this character, whose appearance was a combination of American hip-hop gangster and Afghan mujahideen.[5] During the Afghan parliamentary election, 2010, Jihadi Gangster appeared in posters around Kabul wearing a black turban and a large gold chain with a gold-plated gun around his neck (see photos). His campaign slogan read, "Vote for me, I've done jihad, and I'm rich."[5][7]

Conflict Chic 1 vest, 2011.

Mohadidi's other tongue-in-cheek work includes a fashion line of clothing for suicide bombers and soldiers called "Conflict Chic" and photography exploring the connection between Kabul City and the American Confederate South.[2] His art has been shown in international contemporary art exhibitions, including dOCUMENTA (13) and the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in 2012.[3][4]

See also


  1. ^ "An 'Afghan redneck' creates art in a war zone". Retrieved 2013-02-09.
  2. ^ a b Torgovnick, Kate (8 August 2012). "5 in-your-face works from artist Aman Mojadidi". TED Blog. Archived from the original on 2012-08-12. Retrieved 12 August 2012.
  3. ^ a b "DOCUMENTA (13) - dOCUMENTA (13)". Archived from the original on 2015-03-06.
  4. ^ a b Bhawnani, Namrata (16 December 2012). "The arty party". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 16 February 2013.
  5. ^ a b c d Lawrence, Quil (7 October 2011). "In Afghanistan, Performance Artist Packs Up His Bling". National Public Radio (NPR): All Things Considered. Retrieved 12 August 2012.
  6. ^ a b c d Nissenbaum, Dion (19 April 2011). "This 'Jihadi' Is Armed With a Subversive Sense of Humor". Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on 30 April 2011.
  7. ^ a b c Kabat, Jennifer (20 June 2011). "Aman Mojadidi". Frieze Blog. Archived from the original on 2012-08-21. Retrieved 12 August 2012.
  8. ^ a b c Gerner, Martin (28 June 2012). "Solutions Don't Always Come from Elsewhere". Retrieved 27 November 2012.
  9. ^ Mojadidi, Aman (June 2012). A sense of humor about Afghanistan? Artist Aman Mojadidi shows how. YouTube (Video). Retrieved 2 April 2016.
  10. ^ Nissenbaum, Dion (25 September 2010). "Jihadi Gangster for Afghan parliament". McClatchy Newspapers via Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA). Archived from the original on 29 September 2010.

External links

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