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    Parachute Medallion with Land Mines, Rifles, Bicycles, Hand Grenades and other Munitions, 2007. Wool rug. Collection of Kevin Sudeith. Courtesy of the Gund Gallery.

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    F16s, Tanks and Helicopters amid Hand Grenade, Floral, and Geometric Imagery, early to mid 1990s. Wool rug. Collection of Kevin Sudeith. Courtesy of the Gund Gallery.

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    Reaper and Predator Drone Imagery on Blue Abrash Ground, 2016. Wool rug. Collection of Kevin Sudeith. Courtesy of the Gund Gallery.

 

February 7 – May 8, 2020

Since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and continuing today, traditional Afghan rug weavers have incorporated stylized representations of political figures, Kalashnikovs, flags, maps, architectural landmarks, tanks, drones, and ammunition amid colorful floral and geometric patterns—designs reflecting a reality familiar to multiple generations in this war-torn region. In 1971, the Italian conceptual artist Alighiero Boetti (1940-1994) began commissioning Afghan weavers to produce his now-famous series of map textiles originally inspired by his collected newspaper illustrations of the 1967 Arab-Israeli Six-Day War. Years later, during the Soviet invasion and rise of the US-backed Mujahideen, numerous war rug artists began to reuse Boetti’s visual mode in order to portray political maps of Afghanistan and neighboring regions overlain with representations of munitions, soldiers, fighter jets, and historical people and events. Designs from the 2000s feature the collapsing World Trade Center Towers behind peace doves and conjoined US and Afghan national flags. Still other rugs situate orderly rows and columns of identical tanks or guns enclosed within floral borders and encircled by decorative bands of bullets. Obama-era rugs began to include images of a new weapon: the drone. These and other iconographies are lifted from Western propaganda materials, sourced from major media outlets, and culled from personal experience. This exhibition presents a selection of rugs that simultaneously document the history of a region while standing as a complicated testament to a still viable expressive and contemporary artistic tradition impacted by unusually diverse economic and political pressures.

Warp: War Rugs of Afghanistan is organized for tour by the Gund Gallery at Kenyon College and made possible, in part, by contributions from the Gund Gallery Board of Directors and the Ohio Arts Council.

 

"Tank and Helicopter Pattern with Smaller Munitions Motifs on Blue Abrash Ground" Rug, 1996

Detail of an Afghanistan War Rug

Tank and Helicopter Pattern with Smaller Munitions Motifs on Blue Abrash Ground, 1996. Wool rug. Collection of Kevin Sudeith. Courtesy of the Gund Gallery.

Larger version of the tank and helicopter rug (PDF).

"Reaper and Predator Drone Imagery on Blue Abrash Ground" Rug, 2016

Detail of an Afghanistan War Rug

Reaper and Predator Drone Imagery on Blue Abrash Ground, 2016. Wool rug. Collection of Kevin Sudeith. Courtesy of the Gund Gallery.

Larger version of the drone rug (PDF).

"F16s, Tanks and Helicopters amid Hand Grenade, Floral, and Geometric Imagery" Rug, early to mid 1990s

Detail of an Afghanistan War Rug

F16s, Tanks and Helicopters amid Hand Grenade, Floral, and Geometric Imagery, early to mid 1990s. Wool rug. Collection of Kevin Sudeith. Courtesy of the Gund Gallery.

Larger version of the F16 rug (PDF).

Resources

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A diverse and exciting schedule of programming accompanies this exhibition

EVENTS & PROGRAMS

 

Spring 2020 Opening Reception

Friday, February 7

4:30-5:30PM: Tours of the exhibitions

5:30-7:00PM: Costume Art Ball

Hosted by UVM Provost Patricia Prelock, Fleming Director Janie Cohen, and the Museum’s Board of Advisors

Cocktail bar, hors d’oeuvres, and live music

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