Monthly Archives: October 2012

Bridging the Gap: Why Afghan Women’s Rights Are Our Rights

“Remember that being a woman is different in Afghanistan.”

I was getting yet another opinion on my decision to travel to Afghanistan. The statement was made out of love, wanting to remind me that I should be aware of my surroundings and behavior, that just because I was a strong, independent woman, I should remember to respect local culture. But it was also coming from someone that had never traveled to Afghanistan.

In the day and age of the internet and television we can know a lot about the rest of world, without ever leaving our homes, and that gives us the illusion of being informed. Like many of my peers, I too had a certain view of what “women in Afghanistan” meant. Visions of burqas and limited rights came to mind. But I also knew that on the other side of the world, we often only hear one side of the story. We are limited by what mass media feeds us. So I made an effort to go into Afghanistan with an open mind an open heart.

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A Space for Art Emerges in Kabul

Afghanistan is not the place you think of for emerging artists and activist culture.  Yet few countries in the world are more ripe for an artistic scene.  Just sit for a few hours over coffee at The Venue, a coffeeshop turned artist refuge, surrounded by  the work of artists like Shamsia and Kabir, and you can literally feel the pulse of an artistic heartbeat.  Just in side the entrance is the artist statement spray painted on the steel doors.  Our table had members of the Afghan metal band, District Unknown, visiting Swiss artists, graffiti artist, Shamsia, and an inspiring ex-pat that is supporting the vision of creating more space for Afghan voice.

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Street Art Amazes at Kabul’s Babur Gardens and the Kabul Zoo

Over 1,000 Afghans came through to Babur Gardens on the second day of Eid celebrations – making for enormous crowds at our first Kabul exhibition. The majority of the crowds were men and boys, but families did arrive and several groups of women joined the throngs. It was a lively event with many Afghans taking their photos in front of the images with cellphone cameras.

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‘Streets of Afghanistan’ Exhibit in Istalif

Yesterday we premiered the Streets of Afghanistan exhibition in the village of Istalif, a remote village in the Shomali Plain north of Kabul. Four years ago, I envisioned a collaborative photography exhibition between Afghan photographers and Western photographers that had deep affection for this country. Instead of a gallery show, I imagined surrounding the viewer in the image to bring the art off the wall, and into the viewers world.  I wanted to see people’s reaction as they interacted with lifesize images and hoped that it would change American perspectives of Afghanistan – that if we saw it as a country with a beautiful spirit and culture that we would be more invested in it from a humanitarian perspective.

Yesterday I saw that vision come full circle as we brought the exhibition TO Afghanistan, among Afghans themselves to surround them with the beauty and spirit of their country and communities.  28 photographs lines the market streets outside of the mosque on the first day of Eid in the village of Istalif and the reaction was nothing short of amazing.

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Eid Mubarak: Taking Time to Celebrate in Afghanistan

The road back to Kabul is a dark, bumpy haze; you can feel the dust enter your lungs as you breathe in. We jostle along, the constant jolt of stopping and going when you’re driving in lanes that aren’t really lanes and the only real rule of traffic is the fend for yourself. In the dark of the early evening cyclists and pedestrians come out of almost nowhere, lurching into the street at a moment’s notice. Our driver maneuvers around them as if it were second nature.

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Sneak Peek at Kabul’s Darlumon Palace

29 life-size photographs made it all the way from Colorado through Kabul airport for a series of public art exhibitions in Afghanistan.  Other than getting our roll of duct tape confiscated in Dubai security – everything arrived intact.

Today, was the sneak peek at Kabul’s historic Darulaman Palace. Stay tuned for what comes next!

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Streets of Afghanistan Photography Exhibit Heads Back to Afghanistan

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 launched the Streets of Afghanistan project, facilitating a collaboration of 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 US, we’re very excited that the exhibit will come full circle and finally be shown in several public exhibits in Kabul, allowing the general Afghan public to interact with art in a way that they rarely have the opportunity to do.

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Strength in Numbers Builds in Strength

As I ended my talk at the IMBAx event last Friday at the IMBA World Summit, I concluded with:

I believe our strength is in our numbers.

I believe we can empower voice and strength with young women labeled victims, because as I know firsthand, a victim is only a victim if she believes it.

I believe a mountain bike can be the vehicle to create a ripple of change in our communities.

I KNOW that one woman can make a difference.  I know that once voice matters.  But I also know that our strength IS in our numbers and together, we CAN pedal a revolution that can change the world!

As we lay the foundation for the development of our domestic program, Strength in Numbers, one thing has emerged – our desire to partner with companies that lead with soul, and ethics, and passion. Companies led by founders that believe that the bottom line is only part of the goal, but that what we do in our communities to create change, is what we should be striving for.

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Inspiration and Innovation: TEDx Kabul

Last week marked TEDx Kabul, the first ever TEDx event to be held in Afghanistan, bringing together artists, activists, humanitarian workers and beyond together to celebrates the stories and ideas of Afghans living the transition and effecting positive change in their communities, from art to mobile skateboard.

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Rock Music Festival Hits Kabul

Music has the ability to bring people together.

Such is the case with Sound Central, the 2nd annual music festival in Kabul that took place last week, with several females hitting the stage to play music.

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