Daughter of Afghan President Mariam Ghani Enjoys Bohemian Lifestyle in Her Brooklyn Loft

Published August 19th, 2021 - 05:01 GMT
Mariam Ghani
Mariam Ghani (Instagram)
The contrast to harsh Taliban rule over women and girls couldn’t be starker.

At this time it is unclear what life will look like for Afghan women under the new Taliban rule. Some say they will fight before allowing the new government to take away the rights earned over the past two decades. 

While women in Afghanistan are consumed with dread about the return of the Taliban’s oppressive rule, the daughter of the country’s exiled President Ashraf Ghani is living the artist's life in New York City.

When interviewed in 2015, the New York Times described her loft as a 'map to her layered identity,' featuring floor-to-ceiling shelves filled with books, embroidered pillows made by a collective in Aleppo, Syria, and a Turkmenistan rug gifted to her by her father. 

Mariam Ghani, a 42-year-old visual artist, and filmmaker living the artist's life in New York City.

"One of the reasons I wanted to be an artist is because I saw that by being an artist I could be so many other things as well", she said to New York Times in 2015.

The daughter of a Lebanese mother and Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, Mariam Ghani grew up in exile, unable to travel to Afghanistan until 2002. Her work has since appeared in some of the most renowned museums in the world, including the Guggenheim and MOMA in New York and the Tate Modern in London. 

My practice is based on research into places, spaces, and moments where social, political, and cultural structures take on visible and tangible forms. I work across multiple disciplines – video, installation, photography, text, sound, and performance – but all my projects share the same research-based approach, and all operate through a variable mix of documentary, narrative, and database forms.

Her embattled Afghan-leader dad snuck out of the presidential palace Sunday with his inner circle of confidantes, and, according to the Russian embassy in Kabul, fled with four vehicles and a helicopter full of cash. 


In a social media post, Ashraf Ghani writing:

“If I had stayed, countless of my countrymen would be martyred and Kabul would face destruction and turn into ruins that could result to a human catastrophe for its six million residents.”

Politicians and experts, however, say his sudden departure hampered negotiations for a smooth transfer of power with the Taliban — and that Ghani left his own people in the lurch, facing chaos and dread about a return to the militant group’s brutal rule.

Mariam said she has been “pretty burned out” and has been on the receiving end of “vitriol” after her father left their home country as the Taliban wrested control.

It’s unclear whether Ghani, who was born in Brooklyn and raised in suburban Maryland, has heard from her dad or even knows where he is.

One part of me wants to cry, the other to focus on my creative pursuits. Mariam Ghani.

The United Arab Emirates has since confirmed that it was hosting Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Dubai 'on humanitarian grounds.

Mariam Ghani has shared ways people in the art world can help Afghans.

Posted on her Instagram account, mostly windows, the steps include: reaching out directly to help with a letter campaign regarding the status of cultural workers and art institutions in Afghanistan and, for those who work at cultural institutions, offering to sponsor at-risk migrants. To help Afghan artists specifically, Ghani suggested people donate to Afghan American Artists & Writers.


The 2015 profile described Ghani as “a feminist, an archivist and an activist” who was “as well-versed in the politics of extraordinary rendition as she is in the very Brooklyn pursuit of homemade chile-passion-fruit sorbet.”

She taught classes in Kabul and hired women to work on her sets and serve as research assistants for her projects. Now, as the Taliban becomes the recognized ruler of Afghanistan, women say they fear what's next to come.

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