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 difficultly 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.
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