Afghan Photo Exhibition— Life and Nothing Else—At Max Meuller Bhavan, Indiranagar, Bangalore: A Must See Event: From 13 June 2008 To 30 June 2008

Those of us who take keen interest in photography will really be interested in making it to the Afghan Photo Exhibition that is being jointly organized by Max Meuller Bhavan, Bangalore and French Media Embassy (AINA), Kabul, Afghanistan. It is on till the 30th June 2008 open till 6:30 in the evening, Monday to Saturday at the Max Mueller Bhavan at Indiranagar in Bangalore. Entry is free and is open to all.

A picture is equal to thousand words….. Probably true for the war torn and economically seized Afghanistan where the meaning of life is reduced to mere earning bread for the family. The social insecurity that has gripped this country, first owing to the barbarous and unruly Talibans and then the US aggression to suppress the Talibans has not only jeopardized the country’s external security, but also its internal security. Many have died due to internal and external warfare, daily riots between the Shias and Sunnis, increased amount of terrorism by Al Qaeda. Many children have been orphanized. The film Kabul Express itself depicts the plight of these helpless people, their daily fight in order to restore their family life against all odds undoubtedly make them the bravest people on earth. To be in the midst of battlefield in spite of being ordinary citizens, to listen to heavy artilleries flying over their head and to wait for the sun to rise next morning are all part and parcel of their daily livelihood.

Many NGOs have come forward to help these people who are struggling for social stability. One of them is AINA (French Media Embassy at Kabul). AINA gives formal training to budding Afghan artists in Media and Photography that allow these teenagers to find meaning of life in lifeless Afghanistan. Some of the brilliant pictures taken by the talented youth of Afghanistan pushes home the point that the future to any country’s economic, social and political security lies in the hands of their talented youth and war only destroys these resources as it destroys the infrastructure. It’s good to see that many NGOs are coming forward.

Most of the artists who have exhibited their photographs are in their early twenties. Some of them are Nadjibullah Zirak (Afghan Youth), Mohammad Ishaq Gulban (Religious Life), Massoud Hossaini (Not alone in Kabul – Life in an orphanage), Massoud Hasan Zadah (Living Rooms), Farzana Wahidy (Family Life in Afghanistan) and Ahmad Tamim Malik Asghar (Weddings) [Taken from http://www.goethe.de/ins/in/bag/kue/bku/en3405949v.htm]. Their themes depict the everyday struggle that the people of Afghanistan put in their everyday life.

The most appealing of these are those of Nadjibullah Zirak and Farzana Wahidy. Nadjibullah Zirak was born in 1984 as the son of Atta Mohammad in Wardag Province. He graduated from Omer-Farooq High School in 2003. He has been involved in cultural and literary activities for several years and occasionally writes literary pieces and articles on cultural topics for different publications. He got involved with photography in May 2004. [Taken from http://www.goethe.de/ins/in/bag/kue/bku/en3406138.htm] His pictures bring to light the increasing unemployment in Afghanistan because of the ongoing war and the “Never say Die” attitude of Afghan youth to establish themselves clearly catches your eye. The photos visualize the hunger in their eyes. According to the author, “….. as finding employment in Kabul is extremely difficult, more and more educated Afghan youth are taking to petty jobs like cart-pulling, book selling, selling TV and video sets. Starting such type of businesses doesn’t require a big rented building, a hand pulled cart or even a roadside will suffice.” These pictures pull out the naked truth of the socio-economic instability that the current population is facing.

Farzana Wahidy, daughter of Shir Ahmad, was born in 1984 in Kandahar. She is attending the last class of Abul Qasen Fardosi High School in Kabul. She started to photograph three years ago and was trained at the French media organisation AINA in Kabul. She is currently working as a freelance photographer for Agence France Presse (AFP) and a number of magazines. [Taken from http://www.goethe.de/ins/in/bag/kue/bku/en3405976.htm] Her photographs are even more appealing as it describes the Afghan women. Universally women are the oppressed class and when the Afghan men are themselves oppressed, think about the conditions of Afghan women? When the Afghan men are struggling to make both ends meet, Afghan women naturally become the wrath of these Afghan men. Their condition is even more helpless and worse. In the words of one of these Afghan women, whom the author had interviewed, “….My life is hard. Life means as well that parents think about the future of their children. But we are not able to do this. Life for us is meaningless and without future.”

These harsh realities of Afghanistan make us aware of the hardships that these people are facing and we can only pray to God that peace returns to this neighboring country of ours sooner or later. Thus, it is a must see for all of us who keep faith in the human kind!!

Arunava Das, Media Analyst, Media Monitoring, 29/06/2008

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