Artists At Risk Connection & Art At A Time Like This Present BEFORE SILENCE: AFGHAN ARTISTS IN EXILE
PEN America’s Artists at Risk Connection and Art at a Time Like This announce the launch of Before the silence: Afghan artists in exilean online exhibition showcasing the work of multidisciplinary Afghan artists who have continued to create under incredibly difficult and perilous circumstances.
Since the US 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, were persecuted and targeted just to be artists.
Fearing for their lives, many artists have been forced into hiding, self-censoring or destroying their creative work, or fleeing the country, putting the future of arts and culture in the country in question.
Before Silence presents a powerful selection of works representative of the rising generation of Afghan artists who have continued to create and inspire in the midst of insecurity and humanitarian suffering. Through photographs, paintings, cartoons, murals and performances, this powerful exhibition offers a complex dialogue between artists, danger, deprivation and insecurity.
The artists presented in the exhibition are Ali RahimiArtLords, Latifa Zafar Attaii, Lida Afghan, Mohsin Taasha, Morteza Herati, Naseer Turkmani, Rada Akbar and Shamayel Shalizi.
“This exhibition is an effort to illustrate the livelihoods of some of the artists and photographers who have had to make the difficult decision to flee the country to safety, many of them leaving behind their loved ones, their dreams and their lives. achievements,” said photojournalist Naseer Turkami whose series, Khuda Hafiz, is featured in Before Silence. “They are now grappling with an uncertain future.”
Some artists, like Ali Rahimi and Latifa Zafar Attaii, who moved to Iran, create new pieces in more familiar, but still new environments. Others, like ArtLords, had to re-translate their site-specific murals to an entirely new place and culture.
“I, using very precise symbols of expression, imagine the current tumultuous world where all people live under oppression and injustice,” said painter Mohsin Taasha, in residence at Triangle France since September 2021. .
It’s the start of an ongoing relationship between Art at a Time Like This, a non-profit arts organization that provides a platform for free expression in times of crisis, and PEN’s Artists at Risk Connection (ARC). America, a program of the leading human rights and literary advocacy organization dedicated to the area of artistic freedom of expression.
Even before the takeover, many attacks across the country targeted actors and cultural venues in particular, and artists were threatened and even kidnapped or killed by the Taliban as they regained power. ARC has worked tirelessly to coordinate cross-agency efforts – including facilitating evacuations and identifying routes out of the country, finding safe homes for individuals and families, and researching financial assistance options. – to support Afghan artists and cultural practitioners, as well as to provide digital safety advice and resources to Afghans and organizations not typically used to working with at-risk artists, and to engage in advocacy public on behalf of Afghan artists.
Julie Trebault, Director of Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) at PEN America, said: “Afghan artists have chosen not to remain silent, despite the unprecedented dangers they face, including threats to their lives and their families, simply because of their status as artists or cultural professionals. Those who were able to escape must now navigate the difficult process of adaptation to the country where they landed and rebuild 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. As we continue to support Afghan artists and defend their right to freedom of artistic expression, we are also honored to give them this platform to share their work and their words. We hope people will take the time to engage in their work and to reflect on what it means to be both Afghan and artist at a time like this. »
Global recognition and attention is absolutely crucial to ensure that Afghan artists get the support from governments and humanitarian organizations that they desperately need. Many countries have a multi-year backlog of visa processing and are not devoting 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 ensure their plight is not forgotten amid the 24/7 news cycle of the pandemic and other emerging crises. We invite you to write, share, post and generally raise awareness about this exhibit using this social media kit.
Art at a Time Like This Inc., founded in March 2020 by Anne Verhallen and Barbara Pollack, provides a platform for free expression for 21st century artists and curators, through online and public exhibitions commenting on compelling social issues. ATLT believes that artists and creatives play an important role in raising awareness of public issues and providing ideas and solutions for a better future. With an audience of over 200,000 viewers reaching over 100 countries, ATLT presented 12 exhibitions and 3 public art interventions in 18 months and its outdoor exhibition, Ministry of Truth:1984/2020, was presented by the New York Times as “one of the most important artistic moments of 2020.”
the Artists at Risk (ARC) Connection, a project of PEN America, protects the right to freedom of artistic expression around the world and works to ensure that artists of all disciplines can live and work without fear. With a global network of over 800 organizations providing crucial resources to artists and cultural practitioners at risk, ARC plays the vital role of liaison between artists at risk and the organizations that support them, raising awareness of threats to artistic freedom. and the work of persecuted artists. , and mobilizing arts and cultural institutions to play a greater role in helping the most vulnerable members of their field. Since its inception, ARC has helped over 500 artists from over 63 countries receive direct support, including grants and residencies, emergency funding, legal assistance and advocacy, among others, from of partner organizations. If you or someone you know is an artist at risk, contact ARC and read the Safety Guide for Artistsavailable in Spanish, English and French, to understand, navigate and prepare for risk.