In the upcoming weeks we are headed with a team to finally bring the Streets of Afghanistan exhibit to Afghanistan, for a groundbreaking exhibition of 40 life-size photographic images that capture the beauty and the soul of this region.
In 2008 we—Mountain to Mountain (M2M), an organization that works in conflict regions to create opportunities for women and girls—launched the Streets of Afghanistan project, facilitating a collaboration of a dozen Afghan and Western photographers to document Afghan life through the rarely seen Afghan lens.
The resulting photographs immerse the viewer in the landscapes and faces of Afghanistan, transporting them directly into the culture and mindset of the country’s people. After touring the U.S., we’re very excited that the exhibit will come full circle and finally be shown in several public exhibits in Kabul over the next couple of weeks, allowing the general Afghan public to interact with art in a way that they rarely have the opportunity to do.
“Photography transcends language and challenges stereotypes and showing this exhibition publicly in Afghanistan challenges what we think is capable in a country like this. Art has the power to inspire, to spark conversation, and to bring joy. Showcasing these images in public areas allows Afghans to enjoy art for art’s sake, and be proud of the beauty and spirit of their country,” says Shannon Galpin, M2M's founder. She started the organization after becoming a mother, with the hope that all women and girls have the same rights and opportunities as her own daughter.
While Afghanistan may be a conflict zone, it is not a cultural dead zone. From the recent screenings of the film Buzkashi Boys, last week’s successful TEDxKabul, and the emergence of boundary-pushing Afghan artists like TED fellow Amanullah Mojadidi, Kabul is proving to be a burgeoning cultural center of art and innovation. Bringing the Streets of Afghanistan exhibit to Kabul is yet another example of how art and activism can come together to empower the voice of a people that most of us never hear, something that we and our partners believe strongly in.
“Streets of Afghanistan is fantastic project that will engage and entrance the Afghan audience because of its sheer size and razor sharp reality. Locals will be able to identify with each scenario that the talented photographers captured and literally be able to touch life size reproductions of their homeland,” says Travis Beard, Kabul-based filmmaker and founder of the Sound Central Music Festival, which recently held its second annual rock festival in Kabul.
We'll be bringing you updates from the road and stories from the people we meet along the way. In the meantime, the images you see here are all a part of the exhibition, and the same photographs those in Afghanistan will have the chance to see.