On my first visit to Kabul I met up with the Afghan photographers of AINA Photo Agency. It was my hope that we could create a collaborative photography exhibit featuring top Western conflict photographers alongside emerging Afghan photojournalists. We met with all the photographers and looked at their top ten best. There were a handful of talented photographers with unique viewpoints into their own country.
I was determined to find a way to showcase Afghanistan from a variety of perspectives in order to break stereotypes, tell stories, and connect cultures. Finding Afghan photographers working to create a living out of their craft in a country that has few outlets for photography, made me acutely aware of the importance of creating an outlet that would give them a voice. I knew that I wanted to use powerful and stirring images to provoke discussion and use that as a launching off point to share the vision and mission of Mountain 2 Mountain in Afghanistan. We are working in a country that does not allow for much face to face cultural exchange.
Upon my return, I realized that the hard part was raising sponsorship money for the exhibit. And how to connect the gallery exhibit to our fundraisers in a format that would involve the participants.
I focused on projects and programs in Afghanistan, fundraising, and the overall organization of our non profit. Then, a little over a year later, a generous angel sponsor from Colorado Springs feel into our laps, interested in giving breath to the exhibition so that we could take photography beyond galleries and tie it closer to our ethos of connecting communities of cultures.
Streets of Afghanistan is a collaborative multimedia exhibition, combing large format photography, video projection, music, and humans themselves, to create a wholly unique and innovative photography experience. Unlike anything done before in the non profit realm, Mountain 2 Mountain will launch this exhibition with a sneak peek in Denver on April 22 at Suite 200 in downtown Denver, Colorado.
Seven foot high banners will re-create Kabul’s city streets and Afghan rural roads to create walkways that visitors can ‘walk through’. Interspersed throughout are both still and video portraits that introduce female teachers, members of parliament, doctors, streetchildren, prisoners, and students as living, breathing individuals, each with a unique story of life in Afghanistan for women. Additional 10 foot by 6 foot images preside as larger than life photography.
Audio speakers play recorded sounds down the ‘streets’ and women dressed in burqas wander aimlessly throughout the crowds. Hundreds of Afghan kites creates canopies of color and symbolize the hope of the Afghan people.
All of this creates the experience for an educational, interactive, and immersion style fundraising event that connects our supporters, donors, and community members closer than ever possible to our projects and communities in Afghanistan.
Our unique collection of Western and Afghan photographers includes; Seamus Murphy, a VII photographer, is arguably one of the top photographers of Afghanistan in the world. Travis Beard is a conflict photographer having lived and worked in Afghanistan since 2001. Beth Wald shoots for National Geographic and has spent extensive time in remote regions of Afghanistan with nomadic tribes. Tony Di Zinno is an international sports photographer and adjunct professor at the prestigious Art Center College of Design. Five Afghan photographers represent their country burgeoning talent behind the lens, Wakil Kohsar, Mariam Alimi, Gulbulddin, Najibullah Mustafer, and Farzana Wahidy.