CORVALLIS, Ore. – Artist, writer and filmmaker Mariam Ghani will speak at 7 p.m. May 10 at Oregon State University as part of the School of Arts & Communication’s Visiting Artists and Scholars Lecture Series.

The talk, “Speculative Histories” will be held in Room 228 at the Learning Innovation Center, 165 S.W. Sackett Place, Corvallis. A reception with the artist will be held 6 p.m. outside the auditorium.

The talk’s title is a reference to “speculative fiction,” a particular kind of science fiction novel that takes an observable phenomenon in the present and extrapolates it forward into an imagined, but distinctly possible, future. In applying that same process to the writing of history, Ghani has said, we would observe a place, space, or event in the present and extrapolate backwards to imagine how it came to be, using not only the trace evidence left in the usual annals, or the accounts verified by official records, but also the rumors and myths that haunt the fringes of those narratives.

Several of Ghani’s works over the past decade could be considered speculative histories. She will discuss how speculative histories relate to material histories, the splintering of historical narratives in the wake of civil wars and formulations of the artist as archivist or anthropologist and she will consider how the praxis of speculative history-writing might change in the current times.

Ghani’s work looks at places and moments where social, political and cultural structures take on visible forms. Her long-term collaborations include the experimental archive, “Index of the Disappeared” with Chitra Ganesh; the video series “Performed Places” with choreographer Erin Kelly and composer Qasim Naqvi; and the Afghan Films online archive with

Ghani has had solo and collaborative exhibitions at the Queens Museum of Art, the Saint Louis Art Museum, Indianapolis Museum of Art and more. Her notable group exhibitions and screenings have included dOCUMENTA 13, the Liverpool Biennial, Asian Art Biennial, the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., the Secession in Vienna, MoMA and the Guggenheim in New York. She is currently a visiting scholar at the Center for the Humanities at the Graduate Center, CUNY, and a fellow at the New York Public Library.

The Visiting Artists and Scholars Lecture series brings world-renowned artists and scholars to the OSU campus to interact with students in the art department so they can learn what is required of a professional artist or scholar.

For more information, visit, or

College of Liberal Arts

About the OSU College of Liberal Arts: The College of Liberal Arts encompasses seven distinct schools, as well as several interdisciplinary initiatives, that focus on humanities, social sciences, and fine and performing arts. Curriculum developed by the college’s nationally and internationally-renowned faculty prepares students to approach the complex problems of the world ethically and thoughtfully, contributing to a student's academic foundation and helping to build real-world skills for a 21st century career and a purposeful life.

Story By: 

Erin Sneller, 541-737-5592, [email protected]


Kerry Skarbakka, 541-737-1256, [email protected]


Click photos to see a full-size version. Right click and save image to download.