Shaheer Zazai

Clone 30 – Exclude War


Meding the Museum - Clone 30 - Exclude War - Large Master
Mending the Museum - Clone 30 - Exclude War - M1
Mending the Museum - Clone 30 - Exclude War - M2
Mending the Museum - Clone 30 - Exclude War - M3

Rug (2001 - 2006) by unknown maker(s), Afghanistan, cotton and wool
Rug (1990 - 2006) by unknown maker(s), Afghanistan, wool
Rug (2007) by unknown maker(s), Afghanistan, wool
Rug (1990 - 2006) by unknown maker(s), Afghanistan, wool

Shaheer Zazai, Clone 30 - Exclude War (2023), Digital Collage

Shaheer Zazai’s practice focuses on exploring and attempting to investigate the development of cultural identity in the present geopolitical climate and diaspora. The digital works revolve around Microsoft Word and imagery reminiscent of traditional Afghan carpets. Through mimicking carpet-making methods, Zazai creates his own designs in Microsoft Word, where every knot of a carpet is translated into a typed character.

Over the years Zazai’s material vocabulary has expanded into textile work, site-specific public art installations and video works with his lens becoming self-reflective.

For the ‘Mending the Museum’ he worked with the images of war rugs from the museum’s collection. With removal of war imagery from the collection, Zazai is curious about the landscape that will emerge from the rugs. Maybe a new narrative will emerge. Maybe the gardens will flourish. Maybe a dream garden will emerge that will invite the viewer to form their story of the dreamer. The dreamer herein being the land itself. The dreamer here being Afghanistan.

For this project Zazai is focused on the museum’s war rug collection. He is looking at the collection from a standpoint of representation of a culture and how visual representation maintains a specific language towards a culture. Carpets/rugs are garden designs and in institutional representation Zazai has found Afghanistan represented as a war garden. Afghans have been narrowed down to war gardeners, while there is little to no dialogue about the war dealers that continue to demand of war crops. How can they grow a beautiful dream garden full of flora and fauna when the seeds being supplied are those of weapons?Are Afghans just a symbol for war? Has war become their identifiable garb? How can Afghans be anyone else when they are represented only in the form of war & weapons?

About  the  Artist:  Shaheer  Zazai

Shaheer Zazai is an Afghan-Canadian artist with a current studio practice both inpainting and digital media. Zazai received a BFA from OCAD University in 2011. Zazai is a recipient of Ontario Arts Council grants, and he was a finalist for EQ Bank’s Emerging Digital Artist Award in 2018. Since graduating, Zazai has had several solo and group exhibitions. Some of his recent notable exhibitions include a solo exhibition at the Agha Khan Museum in Toronto, a group exhibition at Doris McCarthy Gallery, a solo exhibition at Owens Art Gallery in New Brunswick and he will be part of an upcoming summer exhibition at The Power Plant Contemporary.


Mending the Museum (2023)
Workshop Series:
   Narrative Charm
   Blackout Poetry
   Play it Forward
   Cloning and Paper Clay


About the Collective
Members of the Collective

Mending the Museum is a collaborative duo comprised of Karina Román Justo and Camila Salcedo. Together, their intent is to work as a bridge between artists, communities, regional museums, and craft objects from their collections, to reflect on ancestry and speculative futures within the framework of cultural belonging.

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Brand identity, website design and development by Natasha Whyte-Gray, 2023.