This story really hit home, being in the creative industry and more importantly being part of the human race! No matter how hard we try it is very easy to be blinded by media propaganda and only look at certain things from a ‘skewed’ point of view. From time to time it takes something like this project to humanize a situation or in this instance a place. I love the power of art & design to actually do that, and in this case create pockets of beauty in a war torn place.

If you don’t have time to read the little video is well worth the two and a half minutes. Enjoy……………….

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Forget tanks, road blocks and violence; it’s time to see Kabul through the eyes of musicians, painters and craftsmen. That’s the aim of photographer Lorenzo Tugnoli and writer Francesca Recchia, who have set out to create a book on the Afghan city’s arts and culture scene, called The Little Book of Kabul. They are currently raising funds for the project on Indiegogo, and Francesca talked to the guys at Frame Magazine from Kabul about indie bands, crowd sourcing, and why art and design can survive – even thrive – amidst war.

What do you think are the greatest myths or misapprehensions people outside of Afghanistan have about the cultural life of the city?
I have been working on the role of creative practices in countries in conflict for many years now and my work has always been met with a strange sense of surprise. People never expect that despite war, art and culture keep thriving and, in fact, become a powerful tool of resistance to the alienation that violence produces. Afghanistan in this respect is a case in point. Art, music and design are oases of peace and normality in Kabul, they are powerful spaces of beauty.

The greatest myth is perhaps the flat representations of Afghanistan we are constantly exposed to. Media discuss this country in the abstract terms of geopolitics, military strategy, financial figures, and inevitably people slip off the frame. They are only there when media needs victims to hit the news. There is much more in Afghanistan than these kinds of simplistic portraitures. Yes, life here is really tough, but it does go on and there are many positive rays of hope for the future. The dynamic urban youth is definitely one of those.

The project focuses on the transition in 2014 – how do you anticipate the impact that will have on the city’s cultural scene?
The artists we are working with have been committed to their practices for a very long time, they are solid and consistent: they do not talk much, but keep themselves busy with planting seeds of cultural change. A bright young woman, a multimedia artist, just this morning told me that she believes that art practice can make a change and contribute to making a better society in Afghanistan. ‘We need to begin changing ourselves and then the country will improve,’ she said. From within, bottom up, and irrespective of the international political agenda.

Photos by Lorenzo Tugnoli.

Text by Katherine Dunn

Foreword by Gary Pennington

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