How Much Is That Dinar In The Window?

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Would seeing, touching, or owning some object of Afghani origin foster any more of a connection to the people, culture or geography of Afghanistan than the images and stories that circulate in the broadcast news? Most would answer, 'Of course not.' But the practice of collecting souvenirs as metonymic parcels of places and experiences has a long, ongoing history. Los Angeles artist Angie Waller's 'Ebay Longing,' a net art work that was included in the Impakt Festival's 'Database Dilemmas,' provides a poetic interface for engaging this desire for the 'Other' through objects. 'Ebay Longing' connects visitors to Afghani, Iranian, or Iraqi objects, like coins and jewelry, that are being auctioned online. The desire for authenticity in these objects can be found in their descriptions provided by sellers. To make sure that the process becomes critically self-reflexive, Waller juxtaposes the objects with writings from US soldiers (and their spouses), journalists, Baghdad bloggers and classic Orientalist travelogues. It seems wanting the other's shoes is different from wanting to be in them. - Ryan Griffis