- Gali Weiss
"Pessimism is a luxury"
Pessimism is a luxury. But for people living in Afghanistan, that is never an option. Maintaining the will to thrive amid yet another cycle of violence and instability requires one to dig very deeply. Where any semblance of humanity seems to have evaporated into piles of smoke and ash, art is the thread that echoes what could be. It is in the creative process that beginnings are born.
These words were written by Omaid Sharifi, Kabir Mokamel and Bilquis Ghani in their article published last October in The Art Newspaper, an independent online and print publication that covers art news from all over the world.
We know how dangerous and difficult it is to continue creative, artistic work in Afghanistan.
Art as we know it in the West is expressive, inspiring, challenging, culturally significant ... altogether essential for individual and collective enrichment and evolvement.
How, then, is it possible to be a woman, continue artistic work, and to persevere in exhibiting your work under Taliban rule?
A group of women artists, art students at Herat University courageously organised an art exhibition showing 70 artworks by women artists. The exhibition opened on 21 February 2022.
“We didn’t display the paintings that show human face or the artworks about love and affection due to the current sensitivities,” says Raufa Shams, an organizer. “Painting is like a river, and there should not be limitations on art, so we can freely create new works.”
While the Taliban’s Information and Culture Department of Herat accepted the artworks and attended the exhibition, an official stated: “Paintings which show women face in full make or portray stranger’s culture shouldn’t be displayed.”
The one essential right that I regard as crucial to creativity – freedom of expression – had been censored.
(Photos in this post have been reproduced from the Rukhshana Media article Female Artists Hold Exhibition in Herat, see link above.)