Daily life in Afghanistan is not only about roadside bombs. Today national Danish newspaper Politiken writes in print as well as on-line about our project and features a selection of photography that we curated while conducting the workshop in Kabul.
October 2012 we launched a workshop with New York Times straff photographer Jan Grarup in Kabul. This workshop marks the first step towards the creation of a new online resource for Afghan photography. By uniting and showcasing photographers, agencies and institutions it will seek to raise awareness of what is happening in the field of photography in Afghanistan. Together with C&C, several Afghan photo agencies and leading independent Afghan photographers are involved in the preparations.The name of this upcoming online resource is soon to be revealed. The online resource is supported by Danish Center for Culture and Development and the Embassy of Denmark, Afghanistan.
There are several immediate reasons behind this initiative; One is to strengthen the level of knowledge about Afghan photography and create opportunities for an international audience to experience Afghanistan seen through Afghan eyes. Another is to improve business and network opportunities for Afghan photographers and to support their understanding and use of new media. But to understand the full scope of this initiative one must take a brief look at the background and context of photography in Afghanistan.
Decades of war have shifted the focus of photography in Afghanistan from capturing the vast landscapes to covering the war and its often tragic aftermath. Since the 1970's, photographs of Afghans and Afghanistan have represented a nation preoccupied with war, a nation lacking opportunities or resources to represent itself.
When the Taliban came to power they did not allow any depiction of living beings. In fact, since 1996 they banned most photography altogether. The Taliban even went so far as to alter advertisements or signs that showed human and animal heads. After the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001, press restrictions were gradually relaxed and private media grew, but photographers and journalists in the new Afghanistan operate in one of the world's most complex and contested information environments. Insurgents, NATO forces and the Afghan government are competing to control the dominant storyline. At times, the lines between propaganda, intelligence and journalism blur.
In this turbulent media landscape it is more important then ever that the voice of the Afghan photographers are heard, both internationally and domestically. Afghan photographers have the possibility to gain access to and create editorials about people and places that might be inaccessible for outsiders. Using an insider perspective they can present a more nuanced portrait of the new Afghanistan to an international audience.
Domestically photography plays an vital role in the way the Afghan population perceives reality. Farzana Wahidy, a female Afghan photographer, pointed this out in an interview about the importance of photojournalism in Afghanistan; "Over 90 percent of Afghans are illiterate, so they cannot read to get information about their country and the world. I find photojournalism useful because such a large percentage of my country's population get their news from looking at photos."
More information will follow, but please feel free to mail to firstname.lastname@example.org for inquiries about the project.