Naeem Mohaiemen


Naeem Mohaiemen is a filmmaker and writer who combines photography, films, and essays to research the many forms of utopia-dystopia (families, borders, architecture, and uprisings) in the Muslim World after 1945. Despite underlining a historic tendency toward misrecognition of allies, the hope for a future international left, as an alternative to current silos of race and religion, is always a basis for the work. A throughline in all his work is family unit as locus for pain-beauty dyads, abandoned buildings as staging ground for lost souls, and the necessity of small prevarications to keep on living. Several conversations in contemporary art museums around the historic Non Aligned Movement and Third Worldism pivoted around the premiere of his three-channel film, Two Meetings and a Funeral (2017), at documenta 14, Kassel. Historian Vijay Prashad (The Darker Nations, 2007) describes his work as having “the air of being unfinished because the history he is working on is unfinished.” 

Mohaiemen is author of Midnight’s Third Child (Dhaka: Nokta / University of Liberal Arts, 2023) and Prisoners of Shothik Itihash (Basel: Kunsthalle Basel, 2014); editor of Chittagong Hill Tracts in the Blind Spot of Bangladesh Nationalism (Dhaka: Drishtipat, 2010); and co-editor with Eszter Szakacs of Solidarity Must be Defended (Budapest: Tranzit / University of Budapest, 2023) and with Lorenzo Fusi of System Error: War is a Force that Gives us Meaning (Sienna: Sylvana, 2007). Monographs on his films include What We Found After You Left (Toronto: Power Plant, 2021).

Mohaiemen has a Ph.D. in Anthropology (Columbia ‘19) and is Associate Professor of Visual Arts and Head of Photography Concentration at Department of Visual Arts, School of Arts, Columbia University. Previously, he was a Senior Research Fellow at Lunder Institute of American Art at Colby College, Nadir Mohamed Fellow at Toronto Metropolitan University, and He was a Senior Research Fellow at Lunder Institute of American Art, Colby College; Nadir Mohamed Fellow at Ryerson Image Centre, Toronto; and Mellon Fellow at the Society of Fellows, Heyman Center, Columbia University. Projects have been supported by Andy Warhol Foundation, Ford Foundation, Creative Time, Guggenheim Fellowship, Wenner Gren Foundation for Anthropology, Social Science Research Council, Elephant Trust, Arts Council, and Creative Capital. Mohaiemen was a finalist for the Villem Flusser Theory Award (2009), Mario Merz Prize (2015), Turner Prize (2018), and Herb Alpert Award (2019).

He has had solo shows at Gallery Chitrak, Dhaka; Cue Art Foundation, New York; MoMA PS1, New York; Bildmuseet, Umea; Power Plant, Toronto; SALT Beyoğlu, Istanbul; Kunsthalle Basel, Basel; Vox Contemporary Image, Montreal; and Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo, Seville. Group shows include Venice, Lahore, Sharjah, Marrakech, Momentum (Nordic), Eva (Ireland), and Chobi Mela Biennials; Tate Britain (Turner Prize show), MACBA, and Documenta 14. His work is in the permanent collections of Museum of Modern Art, New York; Tate Modern, London; MACBA, Barcelona; Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoeven; and Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago.

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