Rare Afghan exhibition starts at prestigious US museum
WASHINGTON: Reflecting the resurgence artisan community in a post-Taliban era, a rare exhibition of reflecting the rich and historic arts and cultural values of Afghanistan kicked off at a prestigious American museum on Thursday.
Christened “Turquoise Mountain; Artists Transforming Afghanistan,” tells a powerful human story of resilience and creativity amidst the ruins of war in Afghanistan, focusing on the lives of the young Afghan artists living and working there.
“This showcases Afghanistan’s amazing cultural history,” the Afghan Ambassador to the US Hamdullah Mohib told reporters during a press preview at the prestigious Smithsonian’s Arthur M Sackler Gallery here on Thursday.
This would show the people the other side of Afghanistan, which is the beautiful and artistic side of the country, he added, saying there was much more to see in Afghanistan than what usually makes the news. For centuries, Afghans had been the world’s most talented artisan and craftsmen. Their work had been collected, treasured and appreciated, the Ambassador said.
The exhibition, which would be in display till January next year, has been made possible by the support given to Turquoise Mountain Trust through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). It has also invited Afghan artisans to participate in the exhibition.
Sughra Hussainy, the artist who travelled from Afghanistan to attend this art exhibition said situation in Afghanistan for artisans had improved tremendously in the last few years. “During Taliban regime, I was at home. Now I am doing the work that I like, which has brought me to the United States,” she said.
For this exhibition, she and two friends have made all the raw material—including paper, pens, and pigments—to create a piece of illumination work and calligraphy.
The immersive exhibition is told through the voices of these artisans, including Hussainy. Site-specific installations created by the artists depict Murad Khani, the cultural center of Old Kabul.
The installation is enhanced by video projections, large-scale photographs and text panels written by the artisans. All the artisans are connected with Turquoise Mountain, a charity that has been working for the past decade in Afghanistan to preserve and revive the country’s cultural heritage and traditions.
Some of the best work of Afghanistan had arrived in the American Capital, the Afghan Ambassador said.
“This exhibition reflected the promise that Afghanistan held. The history of Afghanistan is still being written, even as it was being spoken, said Donald L “Larry” Sampler, Assistant to the Administrator at USAID.
“This exhibition highlights the vitality of these new Afghan artisans and demonstrates the power of art and culture to tell the story of artistic creativity, resilience and hope,” said Julian Raby, The Dame Jillian Sackler Director of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and Freer Gallery of Art. This was a powerful moment meant to transcend the headlines of war and conflict, he said.
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