Shadi Harouni

What do the facts matter when it comes to Ahmad Ghazali? It is said that he died in 1126 AD, in Qazvin. He was buried next to a local shrine. In the early 17th century, as the austere policies of King Abbas targeted all institutions of free thought, Ghazali’s tomb was destroyed. Under the cover of night, his loyal followers gathered the master’s remains and relocated them to a new shrine in another street of the city. His tomb was once again destroyed during the reign of Muhammad Shah (1834-1848), and once again his bones were recovered by his “students” who buried them in Ahmadiye Mosque, where the bones remain. And few now know that the tomb of Ahmad Ghazali is in the backyard of a house, and the custodian, should she happen to be at home and not be busy washing clothes or taking care of a crying child or in a state of undress, might deign to open the door for you. No matter what, she will curse Ghazali’s soul as she does so. But more often than not – and I know this from experience because I have tried to make the pilgrimage many times – she will not open the door, and you have no choice but to return to your city, exhausted with disappointment. 2015, Monoprint on paper, 47 x 33 inches (framed).


I collect facts and fictions on how power attempts to erase and abolish, and on the kinds of ingenuity and strategy the individual employs to resist full erasure. I’m interested in this history of resistance formally, emotionally, and politically. I dissect and imitate these strategies in the form of architectural interventions, sculptures, photographs, prints, and videos. My research centers on the metaphysics and absurdities of hope alive in dead bodies, forbidden objects and forgotten spaces.

A “forestation” project undertaken to erase the graves of three political martyrs, a factory built to conceal books in its foundations, objects buried wrapped in plastic in the hope of some future retrieval that is never to come. I look for them in abandoned factories and mountain quarries, guided there by a personal history that is forever entangled with stone, metal and myth. 

View the artist's exhibition here.