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.
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.
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.