art in afghanistan
In Afghanistan, Contemporary Art began to re-emerge due to greater freedom of expression, after the fall of the Taliban in 2001. Since 2009, international funding for arts and culture has started to arrive in the country, from the United States and Europe. As artist Aman Mojadidi, curator of doCUMENTA13 in Kabul, stated in an interview with Qantara, these investments came as: “ a way of creating a sense that Afghanistan is apparently in a much better state than it was before, paving the way for the planned military withdrawal."
Afghanistan has several art schools across the country and its main cultural venues are the National Museum of Afghanistan, the National Gallery of Afghanistan and the National Archives of Afghanistan in Kabul. The Center for Contemporary Art of Afghanistan (CCAA) is a small art center in Kabul dedicated to promoting and developing the art scene and local artists through workshops, exhibitions and other educational programs.
Afghan Artists Fear Their Future
On Sunday, Aug. 15, the Taliban took over Afghanistan's presidential palace after President Ashraf Ghani fled the country. This development marked the complete collapse of the Afghan government after President Joe Biden announced the withdrawal of US forces from the country. According to the United Nations, Taliban deaths of women and children have reached a record number along with the withdrawal of American and Western troops in recent months. More than 250,000 Afghans were forced from their homes as the Taliban quickly took cities like Herat and Kandahar before reaching Kabul.
The Biden government sent thousands of soldiers to ensure the evacuation of US embassy staff and their families, other US citizens trapped in Afghanistan and particularly vulnerable Afghan citizens. The evacuation of the US embassy in Kabul has now been completed, the State Department said. However, authorities have not responded to questions about the safety of thousands of Afghans, including embassy officials and their families, who are desperately trying to flee the country.
Fearful for the safety of Afghan citizens after the Taliban's swift takeover of Kabul last weekend, the Association of Afghan American Artists and Writers (AAAWA) has called on the US government to maintain its embassy in the capital. open "at all costs" to expand eligibility for artist visas.
“ It is of vital importance that the United States keeps its embassy in Kabul open and running, in order to continue the processing of Afghan refugees. Closing the embassy would signal abandonment and total surrender to the Taliban. This is not acceptable. ” - Association of Afghan American Artists and Writers (AAAWA)
Activists also urged the United States to expand artist visa eligibility to include vulnerable groups such as women, youth, members of the LGBTQI+ community, and ethnic and religious minorities. “ There's a closing window of opportunity for these vulnerable groups and the US must facilitate their safety, ” the activist group said in a statement. “ After pursuing 20 years of failed policies that have harmed Afghans, the very least the United States can provide refuge for those seeking it as the Taliban aims to take the country by force. ”
Since then, the Association of Afghan American Artists and Writers (AAAWA) has managed to achieve, with an online petition, the signature of more than 42,000, urging Congress and the Biden administration to “support the most vulnerable in Afghanistan.” Afghan filmmaker Sahraa Karimi urges the international community to protect the country's artists: “If the Taliban take over they will ban all art. I and other filmmakers could be next on their hit list. Our homes and our voices, our expression will be stifled into silence. The world should not turn its back on us.
When the Taliban ruled the country from 1996 to 2001, creating art was a dangerous act. This organization destroyed the giant carved statues of the Buddha of Bamiyan and banned all artistic representations of the human form. For the people of Afghanistan, at this time, the future is uncertain.