Mariam Ghani

born New York City 1978

Mariam Ghani is a writer, filmmaker, activist, and artist who produces video, installation, photography, text, sound, data works, and performance. Her projects share a research-based approach and mix documentary, speculation and archival accumulation, and analysis. As a New Yorker born to Afghan and Lebanese scholars with an MFA from the School of Visual Arts (2002), Ghani sees her role as similar to a public intellectual, able to insightfully observe and “make work from the position of being in the diaspora, as someone who is partly an insider and partly an outsider.”

Ghani is known for engaging with topics over extended periods of time, often as part of long-term collaborations. Since 2004, Ghani and artist Chitra Ganesh have collaborated on “Index of the Disappeared,” gathering and displaying the bureaucracy behind the decades of detentions, deportations, and disappearances related to the US’s declared “war on terror.” Performed Places (2006 – ongoing) is a series of site-responsive videos embodying hidden histories of significant spaces created by Ghani and choreographer Erin Ellen Kelly. In 2012, Ghani began digitizing the Afghan Films archive in collaboration with the online archive and the Afghan National Film Institute, work that laid ground for her first feature documentary, What We Left Unfinished (2019). This was followed by Dis-Ease (in development), a timely film project about the framing of global pandemics, initiated around the hundredth anniversary of the 1918 flu and expanded as the COVID-19 crisis unfolded in 2020.

Invested, as she says, in how shifting local and global narratives reconstruct understandings of “the past in the present . . . and the present for the future,” Ghani’s work has been featured in international exhibitions, such as Documenta and the Sharjah, Lahore, and Liverpool Biennials, and recognized with creative and civic honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Changemaker Storyteller Award from the Center for Constitutional Rights. Her work is in public collections and screens in festivals around the world.


Media - 2020.54.1 - SAAM-2020.54.1_2 - 139600
Musical Thinking: New Video Art and Sonic Strategies
June 23, 2023January 28, 2024
Musical Thinking explores the powerful resonances between recent video art and popular music.