ALI, Khadim; Untitled (from 'Rustam-e-pardar (Rustam with wings...
Khadim Ali's ‘Rustam-e-pardar (Rustam with wings)’ series explores the practice of storytelling and the relationships between myth and memory. In the series, Ali refers to the Taliban's controversial identification of Rustam - the Persian hero from the 10th-century epic poem Shah-nameh (The Book of Kings) - as their spiritual leader. Having known the popular legend of Rustam and Sohrab since childhood, Ali was surprised when he met a boy named Rustam in Bamiyan who was unaware of his namesake's mythic status. He knew only of Rustam-e-Parzand (winged Rustam), used by the Taliban to reinforce an image of omnipresent vigilance. Ali uses this appropriation to explore how cultural icons are seized and subverted to serve multiple ends. In these works, an angel carrying arrows holds a red rope, threaded with gems as a memorial to those who died by hanging under the Taliban regime. Arabic text appears in the shape of the Taliban's circular seal, while Persian script taken from the Shah-nameh is also abstracted.