Imagine being pulled over at a police checkpoint in Afghanistan. Now, imagine that — rather than being in any kind of trouble — the officer stopping you handed you money and apologized on behalf of the Afghani National Police for any bribes you might have had to pay at similar traffic stops in the past.
This is exactly the scenario that artist and TED Fellow Aman Mojadidi created for his video installation “Payback.” In the bold and hilarious talk above, given at TEDGlobal 2012, Mojadidi explains his impetus for impersonating a police officer, as well as the reasoning behind his myriad photography and installation projects. The goal: to blend his American upbringing with his Afghani heritage. While Mojadidi grew up in Florida, he has been living and working in Afghanistan for the past nine years.
“I stand here today Afghan by blood, redneck by the grace of God. An atheist and a radically politicized artist,” he says. “I want to make art that disturbs identity and challenges authority and exposes hypocrisy and reinterprets reality.”
To hear more, watch Mojadidi’s provocative talk. To see some of his images, keep reading below.
“The Rebel Fell” from the series Afghan by Blood, Redneck by the Grace of God
Mojadidi calls this series “a bicultural adventure bringing the Confederate South to Kabul City.”
“Conflict Chic 1” from the series Conflict Chic
In this series, Mojadidi created “a fashion line for soldiers and suicide bombers. I take local Afghan fox fur and add it to a flak jacket.”
“5 Easy Steps to Paradise”
This installation piece is “an exploration into how Islamic radicalization is overly simplified and misunderstood both by those who promote and condemn it.” The neon signs read “watch … fly … train … attack … enjoy.”
“Dressing for Work” from the series A Day in the Life of a Jihadi Gangster
Says Mojadidi of this series, “I want to spend a day in the life of a Jihadi gangster, who wears his jihad against the communists like pop-star bling.”