Sam Kia (Persian: سام کیا born 1986 in Tehran) is an exiled visual artist and filmmaker of “Afghan” descent who lives in Bologna, Italy. Kia is known primarily for his work in film, video, and photography. His artwork expresses a critical response towards gender, women’s rights, religion, migration, and war.

Kia was born during the Iran-Iraq war in Tehran. He studied theater at the School of Art and Literature IRIB, acted in several TV shows and films, and worked as a scenography assistant on Iranian television. When he was 19 years old, Kia moved to Kabul, a post-civil war city with weekly explosions, kidnapping, and ex-warlords living new, westernized lifestyles in modern Afghanistan. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science from Kateb University and, after collaborating with several local and international media organizations, established his own media production house. He wrote and directed a number of short films and several documentaries in Afghanistan before he fled to Italy in 2013 to avoid the censorship of his films and escape constant pressure from Islamic extremists. In Bologna, Italy, he graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts with a bachelor’s degree in Audio-Visual Languages. He has subsequently held photography exhibitions across Europe. His last short film was shot entirely on smartphone, as his final bachelor’s dissertation.

Kia has a tendency to record reality in a seemingly neutral way. The subjects of his cinematic work are real people with real stories. In his visual art, including sculpture, installation, and painting, Kia explores materials outside their traditional uses and seeks to challenge the values of the commercialized gallery system.


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2003 —— Diploma in Theater, Art and Literature School of IRIB, Tehran

2013 —— Bachelor of Political Science (IR), Kateb University, Kabul

2018 —— Bachelor of Audio-visual Languages, Academy of Fine Arts, Bologna



2007 ——- Gol Pary, Kabul

2008 ——- I Am An Addict, Kabul

2010 ——- Black-Red-Green, Nangarhar

2010 ——-, Bamian

2011 ——- Non-man, Kabul

2012 ——- Dance With Me, Salvador de Bahia

2016 ——- Menu Sulla Via Della Seta, Venice



2008 ——- Sunglasses, Kabul

2018 ——- Ada, Bologna


Solo Exhibitions

2014 ——- Peace Keepers, Regione Basilicata, Potenza

2015 ——- Peace Keepers, Fondazione Citta Della Pace, Matera

2015 ——- Peace Keepers, Fondazione Citta Della Pace, Tricarico

2015 ——- Paintformance, Academy of Fine Arts, Bologna

2016 ——- Ideal, Academy of Fine Arts, Bologna


Group Exhibitions

2012 ——- A Glimpse of Afghanistan, State Museum For Ethnology, München

2012 ——- Dance With Me, Fundação Cultural do Estado da Bahia, Salvador

2014 ——- Notte Bianca, Academy of Fine Arts, Bologna

2015 ——- Notte Bianca, Academy of Fine Arts, Bologna

2016 ——- Notte Bianca, Academy of Fine Arts, Bologna

2017 ——- Emerge, La Friche la Belle de Mai, Marseille


Book Publications

2009 ——- Afghanistan Her Treasures, Photography Book, Kabul

2015 ——- Navile, Photography Book, Bologna


Awards & Residencies

2012 ——- UNESCO-ASCHBERG Bursaries for Artists Programme, Sacatar, Bahia

2014 ——- Fondazione Città Della Pace, Potenza