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THE EXHIBITION


The touring exhibition Afghan Tales presents a new perspective on the complexities of contemporary Afghanistan, introducing a strong selection of some of the best contemporary Afghan photography.

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THE EXHIBITION


The touring exhibition Afghan Tales presents a new perspective on the complexities of contemporary Afghanistan, introducing a strong selection of some of the best contemporary Afghan photography.

Seeing Afghanistan through the eyes of more then 20 Afghan photographers enables a rarely achieved intimate presence in moments, processes, and conflicts in both public and private spheres, bringing a sensitivity to the significance of everyday life and the conditions formative to their strategies and events.

The confidentiality Afghan photographers behold with their own cultures and social codes, provides them with a privileged position that enables access to otherwise closed circles. Furthermore, their longterm observations and involvement entails a different sensibility towards the less spectacular stories that, although difficultly sold to international newsrooms and editorials, can still be hugely formative to Afghan life. Operating as a photographer in Afghanistan is far from risk-free and several of the photographers in the Afghan Tales exhibition have first-handedly experienced the unsafe terrain of photographic practice, receiving death threats, beeing put under arrest, kidnapped, and even forced into exile.

 The Afghan Tales exhibition has a truly kaleidoscopic character, embracing contradictory stances as readily as the power of the autonomous narrative of a single image or a conceptually conceived series. Approaching contemporary Afghan photography entails engagement with a multitude of artistic expressions as well as a multitude of personal stories and attitudes towards what Afghan photography is and should be. It is from this copious position that Afghan Tales invites its audience along to an intimate and surprising meeting with a different and more diverse kind of Afghanistan than is normally showed.


Artist Spotlight: Barat Ali Batoor

The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan, 2010

Bacha baazi is the name of a cultural tradition of young boys, dressed as women, dancing for men as entertainment. The dancing boys are called bacha bereesh (boys without beards). A young boy will live in the keep of a powerful man and he will dress as a woman and dance for parties of men. Many times he will also be sexually exploited. Many years of war have caused a breakdown in Afghan society and an abuse of power by those in control. The tradition of bacha baazi has become increasingly more common and many young boys are kidnapped and abducted into the practice. Homeless children and orphans are especially vulnerable.


It is not easy to be a photographer in Afghanistan and you face a lot of problems. You are covering different stories, and if that story goes against some particular group, or some powerful people, then you are in trouble. It is the survival of the fittest, those who have power will survive.
— Barat Ali Batoor
 From the series "The Dancing Boys" - Barat Ali Batoor

From the series "The Dancing Boys" - Barat Ali Batoor


ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Rada Akbar

Invisible Captivity, 2013

This collection represents women who live in Afghanistan. My work express how their most basic rights are denied in a country, where religion and politics are mixed and, according to Sharia law, women have no rights or authority over their existence. They are treated like property; they can't get married without the permission of male relatives, and if they have children, they don't have legal custody of them. 

  From the series " Invisible captivity" - Rada Akbar

From the series "Invisible captivity" - Rada Akbar

As a female Afghan artist I am responsible for serving my people and convincing our society that Afghan women are in the position to work in this field and gain achievements
— Rada Akbar

ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Mohamed ibrahim wahid

A FRIENDLY MOMENT, 2012

These gentlemen, like hundreds of other disabled people, come to Kabul Orthopaedic Centre from time to time to repair or completely replace their artificial body parts. They sit in the proofing room to check the functionality of their legs. Disability in Afghanistan is a result of 30 years of civil war, Russian invasion and military interference of NATO and the Allies.

’I like assignments that involve the general population and daily life, because there is life behind it. (...)
Yes, there is war, poverty and corruption in Afghanistan, no one can deny that, but there is also a normal daily life and good things are happening too
— Mohammed Ibrahim Wahid
  "A friendly moments" Mohammed Ibrahim Wahid

"A friendly moments" Mohammed Ibrahim Wahid

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THE STORY OF AFGHAN TALES


How Afghan Tales has become one of the largest dynamic archives on contemporary Afghan photography.

THE STORY OF AFGHAN TALES


How Afghan Tales has become one of the largest dynamic archives on contemporary Afghan photography.

The exhibition Afghan Tales has its roots in a project established in 2011 aimed at professionalising and supporting a revitalisation of Afghan photography. Upon the initiative of the Danish Centre for Culture and Development and the Danish Embassy in Kabul, the socioeconomic company Commerce & Culture was invited to design and manage a four year project with the objective of developing and implementing a strategy to help professionalise Afghan photography. 

Commerce & Culture engaged in a long research process locating the widely dispersed and often difficulty  reached community of photographers in Afghanistan. Due to insecure conditions for copyright many photographers were reluctant to present their work online, just as the ban on photography imposed by the ousted Taliban regime still left the general safety situation for photographers somewhat uncertain.

Through this investigative process Commerce & Culture gained a unique access and insight into contemporary Afghan photography and in 2013 established the Afghan Photography Network in collaboration with Kabul based 3rd Eye Photojournalism Centre. As Commerce & Culture became more deeply acquainted with contemporary Afghan photography and the cultural diversity it conveys, contemplations began of how to make this available to a wider international audience. In 2014 Afghan Tales was created as an independent project run by Commerce & Culture. 

The network and collaborative efforts that Commerce & Culture established during the project in Afghanistan form the basis for the extensive archive from which the Afghan Tales exhibition is composed. Several thousand photographs are already in the archive with regular new additions coming in which makes Afghan Tales one of the largest dynamic archives on contemporary Afghan photography. It includes a variety of practices and themes and appoints importance both to technical excellence and to the strength of the story and circumstances of the photograph alike. As such, Afghan Tales offers a kaleidoscopic perspective on contemporary Afghan society and presents a broad take on Afghan photography itself.

 

Download a digital copy of the exhibition catalogue to learn even more about Afghan Tales

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PHOTOGRAPHERS


Afghan Tales is comprised from one of the largest archives on contemporary Afghan photography, representing the work of more than 20 male and female Afghan photographers working within press photography, documentary, and art photography.

PHOTOGRAPHERS


Afghan Tales is comprised from one of the largest archives on contemporary Afghan photography, representing the work of more than 20 male and female Afghan photographers working within press photography, documentary, and art photography.

BIOGRAPHIES

 

Rada Akbar . Roqia Alavi . Hanifa Alizada . Barat Ali Batoor . Mumtaz Khan Chopan . Sulaiman Edrissy . Gulbuddin Elham . Zekria Gulistani . Jawid Hanan . Amina Hassani . Jawad Hamdard . Kia Hadi Morawej . Najibullah Musafer . Sadeq Naseri . Fraidoon Poya . Mohammad Reza . Sahel Basir Seerat . Reza Sepehri . Nasim Seyamak . Abdullah Shayagan . Fardin Waezi . Mohammed Ibrahim Wahid . Mohammad Dawood Wassl

 

Rada Akbar

1988, Afghanistan 

Rada Akbar has always expressed herself through art. She first started as a painter but then gained interest in documenting everyday life of the Afghan people with her camera. Rada Akbar has made two documentary films exploring the life and hardships of Afghan women. Her documentary film Shattered Hopes was selected for the Panorama Hindukusch Film Festival in Cologne, Germany in 2009. Her photographic and art work has been exhibited internationally.

Fardin Waezi

1981, Afghanistan

Fardin Waezi began exploring photography at a young age, expressing life and hardship of the Afghan people through his photographs. After the collapse of the Taliban regime in 2001 Fardin Waezi joined the photojournalism course at the Afghan Media and Culture Centre (AINA). Since his graduation Fardin Waezi has joined AINA as an instructor and trained over 60 students the skills and techniques of photojournalism. His work has been published in several magazines and newspapers worldwide, and exhibited internationally. Most recently his work was presented at a solo show at the British Museum in London.

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Mohammad Reza Sahel

1986, Afghanistan

Mohammed Reza Sahel was trained in photography and photojournalism by photographer Najibullah Musafer. He has studied documentary filmmaking and directed his first film in 2010. He has been working as a freelance photographer with clients such as the BBC, Radio of German Voice, and Demo Tex. Najibullah Musafer first started expressing himself through art as an arts student at Kabul University where he foremost practiced as a painter. He later developed his photographic skills and techniques with the help of Kate Clarke during the Taliban regime. In 2002 he held a large solo exhibition exploring Afghanistan during the tough years of war. Najibullah Musafer is now the director of 3rd Eye Film and Photojournalism Center and is teaching and conducting photography workshops and independent classes all over Afghanistan. His work has been published in several magazines and exhibited in Afghanistan and internationally.

Reza Sahel is a founding member of 3rd Eye Photojournalism Centre, and has served as a teacher in training programs conducted by 3rd Eye in Bamyan and Kabul. Mohammad Reza Sahel’s work has been exhibited in Afghanistan and internationally.

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Basir Seerat

1983, Afghanistan

Basir Seerat is an important voice in social art, media and human rights activities in Afghanistan. Seerat has used photography and documentary film as his form of expression. His documentary film “Little Afghanistan” and “Bird Street is My Home” were shown at the DOK Leipzig international festival for documentary films, and at Documenta 13 in Kassel, Germany. In recent years Basir Seerat has experienced beeing attacked and terrorized several times, and was kidnapped by the Taliban in 2004. After escaping the Taliban he continued his work in media, human rights, and arts and culture and has been playing an important role in the development of governance and democracy in Afghanistan. In 2012 he received his first award as human rights  artist and activist from the Image and Voice of Hope Organization in New York. Basir Seerat´s photographic and cinematic work has been exhibited widely in Afghanistan and abroad.

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Hanifa Alizada

1989, Afghanistan

At the age of 8 Hanifa Alizada was forced to flee Afghanistan with her family and migrated to Iran. In Iran Afghan children were deprived of receiving further education than the seventh grade, so after the US intervention in 2002 Hanifa Alizada and her family returned to Afghanistan in search for better educational opportunities. She finished her high school education and enroled at the Beaconhouse National University (BNU) in Pakistan, which allowed her to experiment with different art forms. It was here her interest in photography as an art form caught her attention. Hanifa Alizada is a lecturer at the Faculty of Fine Arts at Kabul University and teaches photography workshops. Her work has been internationally exhibited, and she has participated in the World Bank’s Imagining Our Future Together exhibition. She is the winner of the Redirecting: East artist residency in Warsaw, Poland, 2013.

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Mumtaz kahn Chopan

1990, Afghanistan 

During the civil war Mumtaz Khan Chopan and his family left Afghanistan and moved to Pakistan. Here he completed his primary education at Noor School and several years later secondary school at Gawharshad High School. Already as a teenager Mumtaz discovered his talent and interest in art and painting, and he is now studying at the Faculty of Fine Arts at Kabul University. He has participated in a number of group exhibitions in Afghanistan.

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Nasim Seyamak 

1991, Afghanistan

Nasim Seyamak studied primary and secondary schools in Ghazni province. After the collapse of the Taliban regime he moved to Kabul and graduated from Habibia High School in 2009. Nasim Seyamak is now studying to become a film director at the Faculty of Fine Arts at Kabul University. He is also an active member of 3rd Eye Film and Photojournalism Centre.

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Roqia Alavi

Iran

Roqia Alavi lived as a refugee in Iran until she was 16 years old. In 2002, upon the collapse of the Taliban, the family returned to the Mazar Sharif province in Afghanistan. It was after being given a photography training workshop by her husband, that she started a new life with photography. She believes that photography can initiate a revolution and lead to greater social transformations. She wishes to contribute to a more diverse image of Afghanistan that focuses less on the negative aspects on which foreign media usually report. Unlike many other women of her time she does not want to stay silent because silence leads to being trapped, she says.

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Mohammed Ibrahim Wahid

1981, Afghanistan

Mohammed Ibrahim Wahid returned to Afghanistan in 2002 after having fled to Peshawar, Pakistan. He started out as a self-taught photographer but in 2010 he enroled in the journalism course at Ibn-e Sina University in Kabul, where he kept an emphasis on photography and storytelling. Mohammed Ibrahim Wahid runs a photo based website and the photoblog Kabul My Capital. Here he aims to show a different face of Afghanistan, that does not focus on roadside and suicide bombings.

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Amina Hassani 

1990, Afghanistan

Amina Hassani’s father was killed by the Taliban during the war and her mother died soon after, which left Amina Hassani alone with her younger brother. Perhaps this is the reason she became interested in politics and fearlessly explains her views. She has a special eye for portraiture and daily life and through her pictures she tells the story of the remote province of Bamyan. Amina Hassani became member of 3rd Eye Photojournalism Centre after completing a three-month training program in Bamyan.

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Fraidoon Poya

Afghanistan

Fraidoon Poya graduated from the Journalism Faculty of Herat, Afghanistan in 2007. He has since 2004 been documenting different aspects of Afghanistan as a reporter and photographer, exploring subjects such as poverty, violence, gender norms and stereotypes. Fraidoon Poya is currently a photographer and public information officer with the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). After participating in two photography training workshops organized by UNAMA in 2011 and 2012, he now conducts photojournalism workshops for university students. Fraidoon Poya has worked as a reporter, photographer, and camera man for the Associated Press from 2006 – 2010, and for Agence France-Presse from 2004 - 2006. His work has been exhibited in Afghanistan and internationally.

Barat Ali Batoor

1983, Pakistan

The family of Barat Ali Batoor was driven out of Afghanistan during civil war and most of his ethnic group, the hazaras, were massacred. He returned to his ancestral country for the first time after September 11, 2001, when the Taliban regime was still in Kandahar despite the U.S. campaign to oust them. After seeing the devastation and destruction of 23 years of war he decided to work for his country and to draw the worlds attention to the plight of the Afghan people and the problems facing the country. He chose photography as his medium of expression and launched his first solo exhibition in 2007. Barat Ali Batoor’s photographs have been internationally exhibited and published in several magazines and newspapers worldwide. He received a photography grant from New York’s Open Society institute in 2009, and won the Nikon-Walkley Photo of the Year in 2013 where he also won the Best Photo Essay category. Recently Barat Ali Batoor has participated in TED talks in Sydney, Australia. 

Najibullah Musafer

1963, Afghanistan

Najibullah Musafer first started expressing himself through art as an arts student at Kabul University where he foremost practiced as a painter. He later developed his photographic skills and techniques with the help of Kate Clarke during the Taliban regime. In 2002 he held a large solo exhibition exploring Afghanistan during the tough years of war. Najibullah Musafer is now the director of 3rd Eye Film and Photojournalism Center and is teaching and conducting photography workshops and independent classes all over Afghanistan. His work has been published in several magazines and exhibited in Afghanistan and internationally.

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Gulbuddin Elham

1974, Afghanistan

During the Mujahideen rule Gulbuddin Elham was chief photographer for Kabul Weekly, Afghanistan’s first independent newspaper. When the Taliban came to power he fled to Iran and then Pakistan, returning to Afghanistan in 2001. Gulbuddin Elham has spent three years studying under renowned National Geographic photographers Reza and Manoocher Deghati, and subsequently began teaching photography courses at AINA Film and Photojournalism Institute. He returned to his position at Kabul Weekly, covering everything from the country’s first presidential election to the daily lives and struggles of the Afghan people. His work has also been published in the New York Times, Reuters, Harvard’s Neimen Reports, and many other publications. In 2013 he was awarded the prestigious Open Society Institute Documentary Photography Grant for his photo essay about Afghan Hindus and Sikhs.

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Zekria Gulistani

1985, Afghanistan

During the Taliban regime Zekria Gulistani and his family migrated to Pakistan where he achieved his primary and secondary education. In 2002 the family returned to Afghanistan and Zekria Gulistani completed his higher education. In 2009 he joined the Afghan Media and Culture Centre, AINA. After completing a line of different photography courses and workshops he got his first job as a staff photographer for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). Zekria Gulistani currently works for Kabul Weekly, an independent Afghan newspaper, and has exhibited his photographs internationally.

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Reza Sepehri  

1984, Afghanistan

Reza Sepehri was only a small child when the civil war forced him and his family to flee the country and migrate to Iran. Unlike most other Afghan refugees in Iran, Reza Sepehri completed his schooling in the best Iranian state schools. He returned to Afghanistan in 2010 with a degree in electrical engineering and started working for the national media. He got into photography after attending some photography- and film production courses arranged by 3rd Eye Film and Photojournalism Centre and Afghan Cultural House. Soon after he joined 3rd Eye and started working as technical manager and photographer. Since 2010 he has been traveling to Afghanistan’s provinces and rural areas to provide photographs for national and international organizations. Sepehri’s work has been internationally exhibited.

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Sulaiman Edrissy

1983, Afghanistan

Sulaiman Edrissy is a self-taught photographer and first began his work in 2007 photographing everyday life in Kabul and different provinces in Afghanistan. He believes that people need photography to help them understand what is going on in the world. His goal is to create a large collection of work that presents Afghanistan through the art of photography by showing the natural beauty and the spirit of his country and its people. Sulaiman Edrissy finished a BA in Business Administration in 2011, and is currently working as a project analyst with the Asian Development Bank in Afghanistan.

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Mohammad Dawood Wassl

1975, Afghanistan

Mohammad Dawood Wassl considers photography an important way to express himself and reflect the aspects of people’s lives and activities. “My hope is that my photos will change the way people judge and observe themselves, and alter the negative image that foreigners have of Afghanistan.” His photographs have been published in the Kabul Press and the BBC websites, and he has exhibited his work in Afghanistan and internationally.

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Jawad Hamdard Kia

1986, Afghanistan

Jawad Hamdard Kia was born in 1986 in Urozgan province of Afghanistan. Now he is living in Kabul City. Jawad graduated from Daqiqi Balkhi High School in Mazar-e-Sharif in 2004 and then he obtained a BA in Agriculture from Bamyan University, and an associates degree from Erfan institute of Higher Education in computer science. Jawad has worked in Bamyan, Daikundi and Parwan provinces, the Central Highlands Regions since 2005, with a variety of nongovernmental organizations mainly in the fields of education, media, culture, election, development and social justice. Currently he is working with an NGO in Kabul. Since Jawad began photography in 2004 his works have been published in magazines, newspapers, calendars, and websites such as BBC and the international journal Adult Education and Development. He is also a member of Afghan Photography Network and www.3rdeye.af. Jawad has a passion to shows the beauty of his country. He believes that by broadcasting only tragedies from Afghanistan, the world misses out on discovering the beauty of its many unique places, and the rich culture of today that is steeped in history. Sharing his photography through the media is his contribution to understanding and dialogue between the nations of the world.

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Abdulla Shayagan

1990, Afghanistan

After finishing primary school, Abdullah Shayagan enrolled in the English Literature Department of Bamyan University. Together with fellow college students Shayagan established the Kanon Daneshjoyee Tafahom (Students Understanding Centre), a centre for civil and social training. His interest in photography began during a three months journalism training program, which inspired him to enrol in the 3rd Eye photojournalism-training program in Bamyan. He is now an active member of 3rd Eye and his work has been exhibited in Afghanistan and abroad. Shayagan hopes that in the future he will be able to mix media with social activism.

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Sadeq Naseri

1980, Iran

After finishing his education Sadeq Naseri returned to Afghanistan when the civil war ended. As a journalist for radio Seda-e-Javan in Bamyan, Naseri provided written and oral news despite the extreme social and security problems. The experience made him confident enough to deal with serious political issues.

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Hadi Morawej 

Afghanistan

Hadi Morawej was forced to flee Afghanistan as a young boy and lived in Iran during the Taliban regime. Here he took up photography at the age of 18 with a Zenit 122 camera. He now resides in Afghanistan again and is an active freelance photographer while also working as a graphic designer.

 

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Jawid Hanan

1991, Afghanistan

Jawid Hanan is a student at the Faculty of Fine Arts at Kabul University. In 2007 he studied the basic photography techniques and photojournalism rules at the Afghan Media and Culture Centre (AINA), and in 2012 he attended a one-week workshop with New York Times staff photographer Jan Grarup in Kabul. Hanan is also working for the National Assembly as a photojournalist with the Parliament’s relationship and communication office.



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EXHIBITION ITINERARY


The National Museum of World Culture (SE) Danish museum of photography (DK)  SpazioReale (CH)  Munch Gallery (US) Nikolaj Copenhagen contemporary art center (DK)

EXHIBITION ITINERARY


The National Museum of World Culture (SE) Danish museum of photography (DK)  SpazioReale (CH)  Munch Gallery (US) Nikolaj Copenhagen contemporary art center (DK)

Afghan Tales is appropriate for exhibition in venues for contemporary art, photography, cultural exchange, and other high profile public or private exhibition spaces. It is an exhibition that has gained significant media attention and deeply engages its audience. The Afghan Tales exhibition is also very suitable for educational purposes, providing visiting school classes with entry points for a variety of interesting topics to explore and debate. 

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The National Museum of World Culture


Södra Vägen 54 . 412 54 Göteborg . Sweden

April 2016 - Jan 2017

The National Museum of World Culture


Södra Vägen 54 . 412 54 Göteborg . Sweden

April 2016 - Jan 2017

Commerce & Culture is delighted to announce that Afghan Tales will be exhibited in one of Sweden’s major cultural institutions, the National Museum of World Culture in Gothenburg. The exhibition is programmed to run from April 2016 through to January 2017. During the forthcoming months we will work closely with the museum’s curators and production team, and together develop the best possible presentation of Afghan Tales within the beautiful space of the National Museum of World Culture.

 

 

 

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Herning -Danish Museum of Photography


Museumsgade 28 . 7400 Herning . Denmark

Thu, Jan 30, 2015  Sat, Apr 19, 2015

Herning -Danish Museum of Photography


Museumsgade 28 . 7400 Herning . Denmark

Thu, Jan 30, 2015  Sat, Apr 19, 2015

Denmark’s Photo Museum in West Jutland, houses 535 sq. meters of exhibition space, which hosts permanent exhibitions on the technological development of Photography, as well as changing temporary photography exhibitions.

 

Danmarks Fotomuseum - AFGHAN TALES Press Release

Med fotoudstillingen Afghan Tales præsenterer Danmarks Fotomuseum og Commerce & Culture en unik samling af det bedste inden for afghansk samtidsfotografi, med værker af mere end 20 unge afghanske fotografer, der arbejder inden for kunstfotografi, dokumentarisme og pressefotografi. At se Afghanistan gennem afghanske fotografers virke, muliggør en sjældent intim tilstedeværelse i øjeblikke, processer og konflikter i både den offentlige og private sfære, og viser således betydningen af hverdagslivet. Udstillingen byder både på serier og enkeltstående fotografier af kraftfulde, poetiske og humoristiske kvaliteter, og præsenterer derved publikum for overraskende og tankevækkende aspekter i et land med mange facetter, som vi alle kender til, men kun de færreste af os ved ret meget om. Det er første gang, et dansk publikum får mulighed for at se Afghanistan med afghanske fotografers blik.

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Nikolaj- COPENHAGEN CONTEMPORARY ART CENTER


Nikolaj Plads 10 . 1067 København K . Denmark

Thu, Nov 27, 2014  Sat, Jan 31, 2015

Nikolaj- COPENHAGEN CONTEMPORARY ART CENTER


Nikolaj Plads 10 . 1067 København K . Denmark

Thu, Nov 27, 2014  Sat, Jan 31, 2015

Copenhagen Contemporary Art Center is one of the leading exhibition spaces for contemporary art in Denmark and is located in one of the nations oldest churches. The Art Center hosts an annual 5-6 Danish and international exhibitions, installed throughout the church’s three charismatic galleries. The changing exhibitions reflect and address current political, social and cultural issues through a broad variety of genres and media.

 

Nikolaj Kunsthal - AFGHAN TALES Press Release

Afghan Tales is a unique collection of the best contemporary Afghan photography featuring work by more than 20 Afghan photographers operating within art photography, documentary and press photography.

Seeing Afghanistan through the eyes of Afghan photographers enables a rarely achieved intimate presence in moments, processes, and conflicts in both public and private spheres, bringing a sensitivity to the significance of everyday life and the conditions formative to their strategies and events.

The exhibition comprises both series and single images of powerful, poetic, and humorous qualities presenting the audience with surprising aspects of a multifaceted country we all know of, but only few know much about.

 

 

Nikolaj Kunsthal exhibition INTERVIEW : THOMAS DAMGAARD ABOUT AFGHAN PHOTOGRAPHERS’ TALES

AFGHAN PHOTOGRAPHERS’ TALES 

By Christina Reventlov

The photo exhibition Afghan Tales documents new sides of Afghan culture and everyday life. One of the originators of the exhibition, Thomas Damgaard of Commerce & Culture, here presents the background of the exhibition.

Images of war leave a clear trace. And the Western presentation of Afghan culture is indeed highly characterised by war, terror, oppression of women and the Taliban. But there is another reality, and this is the one that Afghan Tales aims to capture. Not through the lenses of Western European photographers but through the local Afghan photographers’ recordings with many – and often unexpected – facets.

Afghan Tales is about challenging people’s notions about Afghanistan. The local Afghan photographers present their national culture in a notably different way than Western photographers. Through their view of Afghanistan, we can have our understanding of Afghanistan nuanced and broadened, so that we see whole new dimensions of everyday Afghan life
— Thomas Damgaard, founder and partner Commerce & Culture

Together with his partner Morten Nilsson, he is the originator of the exhibition Afghan Tales.The idea for it arose out of a wish to be able to tell a more nuanced cultural story than the one typically conveyed by Western media.

To him, the exhibition offers the opportunity to give the Afghans a voice for themselves to define their reality and history, while at the same time providing the Afghan photographers with a platform from which to strengthen their international networks.

The image as cultural understanding

Thomas Damgaard expects that the exhibition will both surprise and challenge Danish notions of Afghanistan and provide a deeper insight into a country in which Denmark has had a military presence for nearly ten years. He thinks this is an important exhibition since our cultural preconceptions significantly influence the way we act:

The understanding we have of Afghan culture is important. We have had a lengthy engagement there due to the war. We have an image of Afghanistan and based on this, we form our opinions. We are actively involved, and therefore we are also obliged to understand the country on its own terms
— Thomas Damgaard, founder and partner Commerce & Culture

Asks more questions than it answers

Thomas Damgaard stresses that the exhibition does not have a political aim. It is a photographic exhibition, allowing Afghan photographers to communicate their stories, ideas and messages. And despite the fact that these works have been made by local Afghan photographers, they do not come across as one joint story. In fact, the exhibition touches on many different themes and represents a variety of photographic styles.

In 2010, Thomas Damgaard and Morten Nilsson founded Commerce & Culture, a socio-economic enterprise to support and promote photographers in the Global South.

The story behind the exhibition
Thomas first got acquainted with Afghan photographers at the end of 2011 when he, Morten Nilsson and their enterprise Commerce & Culture were invited to Afghanistan by The Danish Centre for Culture and Development and The Danish Embassy in Kabul. The purpose of this visit was to contribute to the development of Afghan photography. It was in this connection he made contact with a network of the best local photographers and initiated the founding of the organisation Afghan Photography Network (APN).

APN is a professional network of photographers, aiming, among other things, to improve the working conditions for photographers in Afghanistan and not least to safeguard their copyrights. At the same time, APN works to support the photographers in further developing their material and their networking opportunities. It was through this that Thomas discovered the quality and depth of Afghan photography that would later provide the point of departure for Afghan Tales:

‘These photos represented a broad conception of the state of affairs in Afghanistan. Far broader than what is usually being communicated. After all, this is often all about war and nothing else.”


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New York - Munch Gallery


245 Broome St . New York City . NY 10002 . US

Sat, Mar 15, 2014  Sun, Apr 20, 2014

New York - Munch Gallery


245 Broome St . New York City . NY 10002 . US

Sat, Mar 15, 2014  Sun, Apr 20, 2014

The privately owned Munch Gallery located in Lower Manhatten, New York, represents a number of North American and international contemporary artists. Alongside exhibitions by the represented artists, Munch Gallery hosts temporary exhibitions of varying themes.

 

Munch Gallery - AFGHAN TALES Press Release

Commerce & Culture and Munch Gallery is pleased to present the US Launch of AFGHAN TALES  – a group exhibition by 30 Afghan photographers ranging from internationally featured photojournalists to artists working in photography.

Ever since the invasion in 2001 images of US soldiers, tanks, and people grieving their dead have dominated Western media’s portrayal of Afghanistan. But what does the country look like seen through the eyes of Afghan photographers?

AFGHAN TALES invites us to see a different Afghanistan – a country of surprising complexity, contrast, and change.

Traditional, yet modern. Destroyed, yet whole. Grieving, yet optimistic. These contrasts create the background for millions of lives lived in the landscapes and cityscapes of Afghanistan. The photos in the exhibition document a country that is rapidly changing, but is still fundamentally influenced by tradition and religion.

In just 10 years Afghans have started rebuilding their shattered lives. Life is slowly returning to Kabul, a city of more than 4.5 million people. Lively markets and traffic jams fill the avenues under the mountains. Brick factory fires are burning around the clock to meet demands for new houses. Children are returning to school and in 2004 women were allowed to vote for the very first time in the country’s first democratic election. Afghans are again savoring the joys of all that was banned by the Taliban: taking pictures, eating out, and weddings with dancing and singing.

The immense contrasts in Afghan everyday life are captured by the AFGHAN TALES photographers. Women are covered in burqas, but they are also wearing heels. A balloon salesman carrying shiny, colored balloons passes by an old, abandoned palace. As the debate about stoning is raging, the pop-culture phenomenon of 'Afghan Star', a popular television show that searches for talented, young singers, is experiencing tremendous success. The longing for fame and fortune is also present in Afghanistan. 

As such there are definite signs of progress, but in a country as complex as Afghanistan not all is what it seems. There is a remarkable disparity between the apparent improvements and the struggles still going on behind the scenes. 

The AFGHAN TALES project is a selection of the best of Afghan contemporary photography. It’s an independent project initiated by Commerce & Culture who has been working with promotion and talent development of Afghan photographers since 2010 though the establishment of Afghan Photography Network, A.P.N.

The exhibition will travel Europe and the United States over a 36-month period starting in March 2014. 
In the US, AFGHAN TALES is represented by Munch Gallery.

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Monte Carasso- SpazioReale


4 El CunvéntMonte Carasso . TI 6513 . Switzerland 

Sat, Oct 5, 2013 - Sun, Nov 24, 2013

Monte Carasso- SpazioReale


4 El CunvéntMonte Carasso . TI 6513 . Switzerland 

Sat, Oct 5, 2013 - Sun, Nov 24, 2013

SpazioReale is an exhibition space located in the basement of the Old Augustinian Convent in the mountainous Monte Carasso in Switzerland. SpazioReale shows photography, video and multimedia exhibitions that focus on the boundary between art and the documentation of reality.

 

SpazioReale - AFGHAN TALES ( lo sguardo dei suoi fotografi ) Press Release

AFGHANISTAN lo sguardo dei suoi fotografi

ll 4 ottobre alle 18.30 siete cordialmente invitati all'inaugurazione ufficiale della nuova esposizione a SpazioReale. AFGHANISTAN: LO SGUARDO DEI SUOI FOTOGRAFI. È il viaggio d'autunno che vi invitiamo a compiere questa volta, alla scoperta di una realtà straordinaria e troppo spesso proposta unicamente da una prospettiva occidentale. SpazioReale propone invece la prospettiva di 19 giovani fotografi e fotografe afgani.

L'esposizione rimarrà aperta dal 5 ottobre al 24 novembre 2013, il venerdì dalle 16 alle 19, sabato e domenica dalle 14 alle 18. Le fotografie esposte sono in vendita. Maggiori informazioni direttamente a SpazioReale.

Il 6 ottobre alle 17.30 nella sala dell'Antico Convento delle Agostiniane, EventiReali propone l'incontro con la fotografa afgfana Hanifa Nafas. Nata nel 1989 in una delle province più pericolose dell'Afghanistan, Hanifa vive e lavora a Kabul. Attraverso la fotografia affronta temi scottanti quali la condizione femminile e il ruolo delle donne nella società afgana. Di questo e d'altro ancora parlerà nel corso di questo incontro con il pubblico. Traduzione simultanea dall'inglese all'italiano.

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in the Media


Afghan Tales provides new and interesting perspectives on a society there is great interest to know more about. Afghan Tales offers compelling personal stories, presents new work from a surprising and powerful art scene on the rise, and shows unexpected aspects of Afghan everyday life. All of it seen through the eyes of both male and female Afghan photographers. As such Afghan Tales provides a positive and trustworthy starting point for interesting debates suitable for a wide variety of media platforms. Below is a selection of Afghan Tales in the media so far.

in the Media


Afghan Tales provides new and interesting perspectives on a society there is great interest to know more about. Afghan Tales offers compelling personal stories, presents new work from a surprising and powerful art scene on the rise, and shows unexpected aspects of Afghan everyday life. All of it seen through the eyes of both male and female Afghan photographers. As such Afghan Tales provides a positive and trustworthy starting point for interesting debates suitable for a wide variety of media platforms. Below is a selection of Afghan Tales in the media so far.

Television:


Morning talkshow ’Go’ Morgen Danmark’ on Danish national TV 2

Featuring: Thomas Damgaard ( founder and partner / Commerce & Culture )

To turn on english subtitles when viewing a video, click the CC button in the player's bottom toolbar. In the menu that appears, select the subtitle track you’d like to see.

 

 

 

 


Midday talkshow ’Lorry Lounge’ on the regional platform of Danish national TV 2

Featuring: Thomas Damgaard and Morten Nilsson ( founders and partners / Commerce & Culture )

To turn on english subtitles when viewing a video, click the CC button in the player's bottom toolbar. In the menu that appears, select the subtitle track you’d like to see.

 

 

 

 


Evening cultural programme ’Kulturen på News’ on TV 2 News channel

Featuring: Hanifa Alizada ( Artist photographer ) and Morten Nilsson  ( founder and partner / Commerce & Culture )

To turn on english subtitles when viewing a video, click the CC button in the player's bottom toolbar. In the menu that appears, select the subtitle track you’d like to see.


 

RADIO:

Afghan_Tales_24Syv

Danish Evening talkshow ’AK 24syv’ with focus on debate and culture on Radio 24syv

Featuring: Hanifa Alizada ( Artist photographer ) and Thomas Damgaard ( founder and partner / Commerce & Culture )

( Interview in Danish and English - allow time for track to load )

 

 

 

 

 


Afghan_Tales_in_DR

Afternoon talkshow ’P1 Eftermiddag’ on Danish national radio

Featuring: Pernille Maria Bärnheim and Thomas Damgaard ( founder and partner / Commerce & Culture )

( Interview in Danish  - allow time for track to load )

 

 

 

 


 

Printed and online media:

 

 

The New Republic - Read online

Museemagazine - Read online

Double page spread in the largest Danish newspaper Politiken

Long read Politiken - Read online

Mentioning with image in the second largest Danish newspaper Berlingske Tidende

Mentioning with image in weekly paper The Copenhagen Post

Listing in weekly cultural calendar iByen composed by Danish newspaper Politiken

Herning Bladet - Read online

Ulandsnyt - Read online

Magasinet Kunst - Read online

Kunsten.nu - Read online 

Quiet Lunch - Read online 

SLR Lounge - Read online

Dansk Fotokunst Read online

DJ fotograferne - Read online

Visit Herning - Read online

Center for kultur og udvikling - Read online

Pressefotograf forbundet - Read online

Udvikling 

Khaled Hosseini – supportive mentioning on Twitter and Facebook page
 




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Contact


Commerce & Culture Brolæggerstræde 14B, 4. 
DK – 1211 København k
Denmark
email: info@commerceandculture.org
phone: +45 50502737
www.commerceandculture.org

Contact


Commerce & Culture Brolæggerstræde 14B, 4. 
DK – 1211 København k
Denmark
email: info@commerceandculture.org
phone: +45 50502737
www.commerceandculture.org

Visit Afghan Tales on Facebook and Twitter:


AFGHAN TALES IS A COMMERCE & CULTURE INITIVATIVE

 

Commerce & Culture is a social enterprise that connects creative people from the global south to the global market, aiming to dramatically improve their professional opportunities. To pursue this goal we team up with select partners and work with a number of projects designed to stimulate income generation, promotion, education, and intercultural dialogue.

 
 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION AND BOOKING PLEASE CONTACT: 


Commerce & Culture Brolæggerstræde 14B, 4. 
DK – 1211 København k
Denmark
email: info@commerceandculture.org
phone: +45 50502737
www.commerceandculture.org

 

IN THE US,  AFGHAN TALES IS REPRESENTED BY MUNCH GALLERY:  www.munchgallery.com245 Broome Street (at Ludlow St.) New York, NY 10002 212.228.1600 Wed - Sun : 12 - 6 PM and by appointment. info@munchgallery.com

 


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:

Commerce & Culture would like to apoint a special thank you to Danidas Oplysningsbevilling, who have made the exhibition Afghan Tales possible. Furthermore Commerce & Culture would like to thank Atiq Rahimi, Elisabeth Delin Hansen, Kristine Kern, Lillian Munch, Polly McLean, P.O.L. editeur, Zaida Lacoma Berndorff-Nybo, Christina Ritzel Weilgaard, Eva Freese, Søren Holm, Christina Reventlov Petersen, Anna Hermann Hansen and Marie Madsen for their supportive engagement and contribution.

Med støtte fra Danidas Oplysningsbevilling

Med støtte fra Danidas Oplysningsbevilling