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‘Streets of Afghanistan’: Bridging cul...

‘Streets of Afghanistan’: Bridging cultures through Art

Photographs displayed on the Streets of Afghanistan

Crossing all barriers and unfearing the fear of rejection, Shanon Galphin, founder of mountain2Mountain, displayed photographs captured by western photographers in Afghanistan in 2013. Shanon’s book, ‘Streets of Afghanistan’ collects the photographs along with the cultural import of a misunderstood region into one visually striking collection making it impressive and captivating on both sides of the world. Often seen ‘war zoned’  photographs of Afghanistan, Shanon gets alive the other side of the country. Getting it out of the galleries, or museums, the show spreads out through the ‘Streets of Afghanistan’, literally, showing viewers the beauty of their own city which has been long lost. The photographer, Tony Di Zinno,  wanted to

Images displayed on the streets of Afghanistan

The photographer, Tony Di Zinno,  wanted to bring forth the forgotten perspective and rarely captured culture and photography can tell that story better than any other medium because there are no limits to its interpretation. After working for years in various parts of Afghanistan with women and girls, Shanon developed the vision that focused in connecting communities and sparking conversation in the conflicted zone through Art.

Images displayed on the streets of Afghanistan

The aim of the public exhibit was to provoke, discuss, and inspire to connect communities and cultures through the power of art and common humanity. After traveling intensively in The United States of America, the exhibition was moved back to Afghanistan as a Public Art project and was displayed in seven different cities of the captured country, to give the exhibit’s subjects an opportunity to see themselves in a new light. This thought provoking subject transported the viewer directly into the world and mindset of Afghan people that has been ignored for the longest time. The larger than life photographs surrounded the viewer in the rolling green hills of Badakhshan and Bamyan and the faces of Afghans in a way that humanizes a country narrowly portrayed as a war zone in the Western mainstream media.

Images displayed on the streets of Afghanistan

Public art isn’t just for Big cities, on the contrary, public art holds more value in countries like Afghanistan, giving the citizens more space to think beyond their war struck situation. Such countries narrate stories not only about the ongoing war but about poverty, oppression, and lack of infrastructure, the actual canvas on which life occurs. It’s a fallacy to think that Public Art shouldn’t be done in a war zone, any project that is done on art voices something purely based on reality and looking for hope, hence makes such conflict and poverty struck countries apt for public art.

The photographs were displayed in the Barber gardens and women’s garden in Kabul, Istalif area, at the Kabul zoo, on the streets, and also near the destroyed buildings. The subject of the images was to portray the beautiful side, although the images did show poverty and pain.  Where an image with a group of Afgan girls with a strong expression captured a side, there was also a lady with a child in her lap begging in one of the captures but still not missing onto the beauty of the place. There were also the images of poppies, kids playing, people in conversation, city streets, and untouched landscapes. Which all the crowds were happily surprised to see, enjoyed the bright change, and appreciated the initiative.

Images displayed on the streets of Afghanistan

In showcasing these images in public areas, the intention of the author was to highlight a different perspective about Afghan and bring forth the beauty and spirit of the country, so that they enjoy ‘Art for Art’s sake’, strike conversations, and be proud of the other(forgotten) face of their country.

Photographs displayed on the streets of Afghanistan


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There is a connection, hard to explain logically but easy to feel, between achievement in public life and progress in the arts.

John F. Kennedy