Edmund Clark – The Mountains of Majeed, Flowers Gallery, 82 Kingsland Road, London E2, until 4th April 2015
Edmund Clark is now also represented by the gallery and this exhibition reflects on the ending of ‘Operation Enduring Freedom’ in Afghanistan using photography, found imagery and Taliban poetry.
It is a view on the experience of many of those based at Bagram Airfield, America’s largest base in Afghanistan, who never actually engaged with the enemy. Clark thoughtfully contrasts the man-made landscape within the camp with the mountains of the Hindu Kush which dominate the horizon and landscape both within and outside the camp’s perimeter. The surrounding landscape is reproduced in murals and landscapes within the base’s buildings and it was a particular series of paintings in a dining facility by an artist named Majeed that inspired Clark. He says of them “How many tens of thousands of pairs of western eyes have registered the pastoral peace of these mountainscapes? Has anyone considered what they say of the country they are playing a part in occupying?”
Majeed’s paintings are shown reproduced as a series of picture post cards and as Clark says of the mountains depicted in them “There is distance between these mountains. Vistas of tranquility fabricated by hand from canvas, wood and paint. Images from an enclave captured in high resolution by the latest digital technology. Two cultures divided by landscape and time. Ever present mountains forever beyond boots confined for a duration, within walls of occupation, on a ground of gravel and tarmac. And there is convergence. Both are mountains of the imagination. Both are representations of enduring freedom; and in both the mountains belong to Majeed.”