By Anna Brones
Photography has always been a form of expression, but more than that, around the world photography is used as a form of activism. Photography is voice.
That is the idea behind the Streets of Afghanistan project, a touring cultural exhibit of life-size photographs that depict life in Afghanistan, as Afghans see it. A groundbreaking collaboration of Afghan and Western photographers, the exhibit immerses the viewer in the busy streets of Kabul, transporting them directly into the culture and mindset of the country’s people.
The brainchild of Mountain2Mountain Founder Shannon Galpin, the ultimate goal with the project was always to have it showcased in Afghanistan, a place where art, much less street art is practically nonexistent. A photo exhibit on the streets of Kabul empowers voice not only for the photographers involved, but the Afghan people as a whole.
“These images have allowed the voices and stories of the Afghan community to be heard, unedited, in the United States. Presenting them on the streets of Kabul to share with the Afghan gives back to a people from which so much has been taken and used to fulfill a particular narrative. The power of public art ignites conversation, community, and opens our eyes to both the beauty and the heartbreak seen every day throughout Afghanistan,” says Galpin.
The first woman to bike across the Panjshir Valley, Galpin has always fought hard for women’s rights in conflict zones, believing that all women deserve the same rights and opportunities as her own daughter. Working on projects in Afghanistan since 2006, Galpin has turned an adventure ethic into an activist ethic, supporting the voice of the people she has come to know.
Streets of Afghanistan is another way to spread that voice, and reaching out to the public for support Galpin and Mountain2Mountain hope to engage a broader group on the issues that face the men, women and children of Afghanistan.
“This is a real country, with real people, with a real youth movement. Just because there is daily violence, and an ongoing war, doesn’t mean that real life doesn’t continue, that normalcy shouldn’t be encouraged, and that we can’t focus projects that embolden, strengthen, and inspire the future generation to stay in Afghanistan and give voice to its future,” says Galpin.
Mountain2Mountain will be producing three photo exhibits in Kabul in October, bringing these images back to the Afghan people, and in turn bringing back their voice. One of the exhibits will be held in the Women’s Garden at the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, a place where women can freely interact with each other and the exhibition.
You can support the Streets of Afghanistan project by taking part in the Kickstarter campaign through September 15, 2012, helping to pay for the logistics of shipping images and producing three life-sized photo exhibitions on the streets of Kabul.