Another kind of transformation of the map of Afghanistan

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Two new war rugs out of Pakistan show how forms and motifs which you would normally expect to have some stability (like the emblematic map outline of a country) may also be transformed into images more like the non-figurative forms and devices from which these rugs originate.

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In this first instance those who are familiar with the “Victory over the Soviets” map images – which show the Soviet forces heading home along the diagonal north-western pathway, leading from the northern border of a recognizable map of the country – will be somewhat surprised to see the geography reduced to this symmetrical golden “virtual” Afghanistan. Without that north-western pathway, the significance of the central motif would be meaningless.

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Again, here’s a recent variation to the same approach. In this instance the rug is symmetrical top and bottom, with zig-zag roads full of tanks, with helicopters and missiles in the skies above. And in this instance the map-like form in the centre (map-like in this instance because it is divided like those maps which show the different provinces) has been morphed to quite different effect. In each case the significance of the abstracted “map” indicates how multivalent forms may convey multiple references, linking their traditional origins with new meanings and effects.

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