Kubra Khademi, whose anti-patriarchal and anti-colonial performances are well known by now, as well as her drawings of female sensuality presents her new exhibition at Galerie Eric Mouchet Brussels. The artist invites us to cast a critical eye on systems of power, taking as a starting point the lessons and genealogy of myths. While forms of violence continue, Kubra Khademi is exploring the basis for an urgently needed decolonised and feminist paradigm shift. This exhibition will be held at Galerie Eric Mouchet Brussels from April 20 to July 15, 2023.
The national epic poem Shahnâma (Book of Kings)  composed by the poet Ferdowsi in the tenth century CE, is one of the foundational texts of Persian culture. It was written in Persian at a time when Persia was already Muslim, when the choice of language was already political. It recounts a series of heroic exploits, but also failures. Some of Kubra Khademi’s gouaches exhibited here represent characters who embody a human strength or weakness: the strength of Zuhak , the usurper monarch of the two serpents, the justice of Kave-Ahangar the rebel with the golden club, the temperance of Rakhsh the horse of Rostam, the king with the dagger who killed his bastard son the prudent Sohrab. Also depicted by the artist are mystical creatures such as the Simorgh, whose immense wisdom comes from having witnessed the destruction of the world three times over, or the phoenix Qognoos, the symbol of eternal regeneration. These works, all of which were produced for the exhibition, challenge the perpetuation of schemas of power and patriarchal domination.
The title of the exhibition, “Ta’me Sib’ (طعم سیب)”, is a reference to the inheritance rule whereby women cannot obtain the whole of a bequest even when there are no male heirs. As an Afghan woman, Kubra Khademi is no stranger to patriarchal violence, which is systemic and not part of some epic destiny. Dragon, a work on paper, recalls the story of the dragon of Bamiyan  who demanded a virgin, two camels, and six hundred pounds of food daily, a myth that illustrates how women’s status is equal to that of domesticated animals. The excrement reproduced by Kubra Khademi in gilded ceramic materialises the presence of women, whereby their inherent “impurity” means the esteem they enjoy is equivalent to that of a public convenience. The Aftabeh (آفتابه) , transformed into a vase for artificial flowers, represents a reversal of the public and intimate spheres. It refers to an image that circulated online depicting a Taliban with a similar looking bouquet, and juxtaposes the prohibitions dictated by the regime with the mass-produced goods that flooded the Central Asian market starting in the 1980s. These contradictions invite reflection on moral values. The turban, for instance, symbolises spiritual and social power. In the work of Kubra Khademi, the turban, whose colour identifies it with those worn by the Taliban, has been emptied of its social symbolism thanks to the resistance of women: the artist transforms it into a vulgar plinth that supports one of her excremental sculptures.
Traditional mystical imagery reinterpreted figures also in the gouaches The Father-Fucker-God and The-Last-Departor-to-Heaven. The choice of representing two Buddhas, similar to those of Bamiyan reduced to rubble by the Taliban in 2001, conveys the artist’s opposition to iconoclasm; their features are fully human . The first is gendered and the second has an explosive belt wrapped around his chest; he holds a detonator in his right hand and the key to paradise in his left. Suicide attacks are very frequent in Afghanistan, and civilians are the primary victims of these “martyrs” who hope to gain entry to paradise in this way. Baby Paradise I and Baby Paradise II take up this same fatal theme. These are figurines of two young boy recruits from the Taliban, their heads replaced with dried pomegranates. The double meaning of the French word grenade (pomegranate, the fruit associated with paradise grown in southern Afghanistan and the explosive projectile) illustrates the irreparable nature of suicide bombing.
The thirteen screen-printed flags of the Sagas Encounter series represent a bilateral world made up of countries that produce arms and those that buy them. A similar dichotomy occurs when alliances come together and create an inflated idea of the enemy. Although Afghanistan’s national flag is absent here, Kubra Khademi questions the imaginary representation of her country, conceived and mediated by the West, as a formidable enemy entity.
“Making a weapon is a craft. Afghanistan is a country of jewellers.” . One of the reasons probably lies in the country’s wealth of precious resources – cobalt, turquoise, copper, lapis-lazuli and gold – that the artist features in a series of gouaches. However, Afghanistan was rendered unable to compete in the geopolitical power games for which its mineral resources made it eligible by the wars of occupation against its sovereignty and people waged successively by the Soviet Union and the United States over the past four decades.
Kubra Khademi’s exhibition at the Galerie Éric Mouchet invites us to cast a critical eye on systems of power, taking as a starting point the lessons and genealogy of myths. While forms of violence continue, the artist is exploring the basis for an urgently needed decolonised and feminist paradigm shift.
 Composed around the year 1000 CE, the Book of Kings recounts the foundation mythology of the Persian Empire in the Caucasus and Central Asia, from the creation of the world to the emergence of Islam. It is written is couplets.
 Bamiyan is a city in central Afghanistan, the capital of Hazaradjat or Hazaristan province. It is famous for the three monumental statues of Buddha carved into a cliff, which were declared idolatrous by the Taliban in 2001 and destroyed with explosives and artillery fire.
 A pitcher used for personal hygiene used mainly in Central Asia, and for ritual cleansing in Islam.
 In Islam god is intangible, whereas in Persian literature he is personalised in various ways. God is sometimes represented in imagery or statuary, like a lover whose romantic relationship replaces the religion. Discussion with the artist, 9 March 2023
 Interview with the artist, 1 March 2023
// Press Release
// Kubra Khademi
// Ta’me Sib’ (طعم سیب) (April 20 to July 15, 2023 | Brussels)