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Before Silence: Afghan Artists in Exile

Sunday 13 February 2022, by siawi3

Source:PEN America, email


Before Silence: Afghan Artists in Exile

Julie Trebault
Director, Artists at Risk Connection (ARC)
PEN America

9.02.22

Since the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan last August and the subsequent takeover by the Taliban, which has a long and brutal history of censoring artistic expression, many Afghan artists, including writers, musicians, filmmakers, and intellectuals, have been persecuted and targeted simply for being artists. Fearing for their lives, many artists have been forced to go into hiding, self-censor or destroy their creative work, or flee the country entirely, putting the future of the arts and culture in the country into question.

In the face of these challenges, PEN America’s Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) and Art at a Time Like This are launching Before Silence: Afghan Artists in Exile, an online exhibition presenting the work of nine multidisciplinary Afghan artists who have continued to create amidst these perilous circumstances. Through photographs, paintings, cartoons, murals, and performances, this powerful exhibition offers a complex dialogue on artists, danger, deprivation, and insecurity and asks viewers to consider what it means to be both Afghan and an artist at a time like this.

CHECK OUT THE EXHIBIT

“This exhibition is an effort to illustrate the livelihood of some of the artists and photographers who had to make a difficult decision to flee the country to safety, many leaving behind their loved ones, dreams, and achievements. “They now grapple with an uncertain future.”
— Naseer Turkami, Afghan photojournalist featured in Before Silence

Even before the takeover, numerous attacks across the country targeted cultural actors and venues, and artists were threatened and even abducted or killed by the Taliban as they regained power. But when Taliban insurgents took control of the country in August, the threats against artists rose to a new and dangerous level. ARC Program Assistant Juliette Verlaque recently delved into the history of the persecution of artists in Afghanistan and the current state of artistic freedom in the country.

The artists featured in the exhibition are Ali Rahimi, ArtLords, Latifa Zafar Attaii, Lida Afghan, Mohsin Taasha, Morteza Herati, Naseer Turkmani, Rada Akbar, and Shamayel Shalizi. Some artists, such as Ali Rahimi and Latifa Zafar Attaii, who have relocated to Iran, are creating new pieces in more familiar, but still new, environments. Others, such as ArtLords, who are accustomed to creating street art throughout Kabul, must now translate their site-specific murals to the entirely new locale and culture of Washington DC.

Global recognition and attention is absolutely crucial to ensuring that Afghan artists get the support from governments and humanitarian organizations that they so desperately need. Many countries have a years-long backlog for visa processing and are not dedicating the time and resources needed to adequately respond to this crisis.

With your support, we can fight for the rights and needs of Afghan artists and make sure that their plight is not forgotten amidst the 24-7 news cycle, the pandemic, and other emerging crises. We kindly invite you to write, share, post, and generally raise awareness about this exhibition using this social media kit.

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Source: https://artatatimelikethis.com/before-silence?mc_cid=b26119672a&mc_eid=77d00a34aa

BEFORE SILENCE:
Afghan Artists In Exile

Curated by
Artists At Risk Connection (ARC) &
Art At A Time Like This

Since the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan last August and the subsequent takeover by the Taliban, which has a long and brutal history of censoring artistic expression, many Afghan artists, including writers, musicians, filmmakers, and intellectuals, have been persecuted and targeted simply for being artists. Fearing for their lives, many artists have been forced to go into hiding, self-censor or destroy their creative work, or flee the country, putting the future of the arts and culture in the country into question.

Before Silence presents a powerful selection of works representative of the up and coming generation of Afghan artists who have continued to create and inspire amidst insecurity and humanitarian suffering. Through photographs, paintings, cartoons, murals, and performances, this powerful exhibition offers a complex dialogue between artists, danger, deprivation and insecurity.

“Afghan artists have chosen not to remain silent, despite the unprecedented dangers they are facing, including threats to their lives and their families, simply because of their status as an artist or cultural professional. Those who have been able to escape must now navigate the difficult process of adjusting to the country where they have landed and rebuilding their creative practices despite challenges such as language and cultural barriers, psychological trauma, lack of funding, and fear for their friends and family who remain in Afghanistan. While we continue to support Afghan artists and advocate for their right to artistic freedom of expression, we are also honored to give them this platform to share their work and their words. We hope that people will take the time to engage with their work and think about what it means to be both Afghan and an artist at a time like this.”

- Julie Trebault, director of the Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) at PEN America

“Bringing this diverse group of indomitable artists–now dispersed throughout the world– together has been a great challenge for Art at a Time Like This but illustrates the new climate in which curators work. Rather than locating artists through galleries or art fairs, these artists were tracked down through news stories and published interviews documenting the crisis in Afghanistan over the past year. Before SIlence allows us to peer past headlines and see the rich contemporary culture through the very artworks. These works are brimming with creativity and emotion, despite the circumstances in which they were made.’“

- Barbara Pollack and Anne Verhallen, founders of Art At At Time Like This

See images here