World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 33 – Kabul Pasolini Mohamed
Kabul Pasolini Mohamed (74) makes Photo Collage Art. A few years ago I looked her up at an exhibition in Zandvoort - a seaside resort. It was at a beach pavillion, in wintertime, just before Christmas.
Kabul has unusual origins. She was born in Phnomh Penh (Cambodia). Her father was Somali, her mother Vietnamese. At Hotel Hoogland she speaks briefly about her past. ‘My father, as a young man, wanted to leave his country, Somalia. He got a job on a steamer and on one of his journeys he arrived in Vietnam. There he married a Vietnamese woman, my mother. My father was strict islamic. He always listened to the radio. He followed world politics very closely.’
Three weeks later
Three weeks later I reconnect with Kabul, this time at her home in the ‘Jordaan’, formerly an Amsterdam working-class neighbourhood, now an area full of galleries and artists. The charming room is filled with her artwork. I want to know more about her background and in particular her relationship with the filmmaker Pasolini, who was so important that she took his name as one of her surnames. Het official name is written on her business card, A.H.D.P. Kabul Mohamed. Kabul: ‘The A stands for Achmed, the name of my father, the H for Hadji, one of our family’s surnames – Hadji literally means sacred journey to Mecca, the D for Dhulbahante, name of one of the most well known families of Somalia, and, finally the P stands for Pasolini.’
I see a picture of her father, a proud, stately man. In another photograph I see a Young Kabul with her father and mother. Kabul looks nice, her hair in a braid falling along her face. On the wall I see a photo of her three handsome daughters. ‘One of my daughters is also named Kabul. I have five grandsons.’
Kabul: ‘My grandmother, the mother of my mother was Vietnamese, but my grandfather, her husband, came from India. My father was an orphan. This was about one hundred years ago. There had been war in Somalia and the country was divided into three. There was an English, a French and an Italian area. We were in the English part. My father had an English passport. As I said, he was a young man who wanted to make something out of his life, and he decided to go boating. He got on a freighter and was doing chores. He did it a number of years. He went quite a few times around the world. In Vietnam he met my mother and they were married within a short time.
‘They had twelve children: four girls and eight boys. All twelve ended up in the Western hemisphere. Five boys and three girls are still alive. They live all over the world, in America and in Europe. My oldest brother went to study in England. He followed studies that would make him a diplomat. He became indeed a diplomat for Somalia in Bonn, Germany. He worked as an attaché at my Uncle’s office, who was the ambassador of Somalia in West Germany. The latter would later work for Somalia in Washington and also represent the country in the UN.’ When she herself went to the West, in 1964, there was one natural destination: the home of her brother, the diplomat. ‘My brother was very strict with me. I was allowed almost nothing. I wanted to be a singer. But that was not his idea. Eventually I was allowed to study journalism and photojournalism.’ In 1965 Kabul came to the Netherlands. She married a Dutchman and had three daughters. ‘All of them live in Amsterdam.’
Her encounter with Pier Paolo Pasolini, the famous Italian film director, made a great impression on Kabul. It led to a lifelong idealistic commitment. ‘I met him in 1964 on a plane. I traveled from Phnom Penh to Rome and then from Rome to Paris. In the flight to Paris he started to talk to me. I told him that I was going to Germany, to my brother. He said: ‘Come to Italy’. He was working on the film ‘Il Vangelo secondo Matteo’, about the life of Jesus. When I was at my brother’s house, I told him about Pasolini’s invitation. My brother who, like my father, was an exemplary Muslim thought I should make no further contact with Pasolini. “He is a catholic and he makes films.” That was not deemed appropriate according to my brother’s ideas.’
Since then, Pasolini was always present in the background. ‘A few years later I thought: ‘I need to go to Italy, to Paolo. But I didn’t take that step. Still later I heard of the violent death of Pasolini on the beach of Ostia. My heart broke. We had an idealistic connection.’ Kabul showed me a photograph of herself with her hair in a braid along beside her face. ‘Pasolini used this image for Sylvana Mangano in ‘Oedipus Rex’. After this movie Pasolini went to Yemen. ‘That was in response to my stories in the plane about Yemen, where my father had gone to reunite with his family. In the book ‘Teorema’ that was published on the occasion of the film of the same name, Pasolini wrote about our farewell after our joint flight: “I met a girl on the plane that in two years time might be my wife.” When I read that, I had cried.’
‘Didn’t Pasolini love men and boys?’ I respond. ‘’He also loved women” she replies. ‘His life is in his films. At night I dream of him. I want to go to Rome, to Ostia beach”. The reason of his death is far from clear. The case has been opened again. There is further investigation necessary to the exact cause of his death.’ She also wants also to travel to Yemen and Somalia. ‘All my brothers and sisters have been there, just not me. My father is buried in Mogadishu. I would like to visit his grave.’
Kabul’s Photo Collage Art
Kabul makes Photo Collage Art. Her original performances have personal and political elements. The daughters are there, Pasolini of course, the Pope, several politicians and the three crosses of Amsterdam. The format is A4 or A3 or A2. In many works we the European logo and the War Child logo pop up. Half of the proceeds she donates to War Child.
Kabul Pasolini Mohamed’s last big show was in 2015 the Het Leidse Volkhuis in Leiden.