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  • Moments of Afghanistan

    An exhibition shows small pieces of Afghani women’s and queer people’s lives and thematises their oppression and discrimination – in Afghanistan as well as in Leipzig.

    Photos on the walls and in the middle of the room, hanging on strips from the ceiling – that was the main part of the exhibition “moments” (ذم in Dari and Farsi) which took place on the weekend of 15th of March in “Die Bäckerei”, a housing project in the west of Leipzig. Mainly young people came that evening, many people who also spoke Dari or Farsi. The exhibition was built up in a room in the back of the building. In the front at the entrance the visitors could eat afghani bread and stew, borscht, buy merch by the collective or just chill on one of the big sofas and have a lemonade or beer.  

    During the exhibition taking pictures was prohibited.

    The topic of the exhibition: the lives of women and queer people in Afghanistan. The artists were afghani people, living all around the world. The pictures showed moments of the artist’s lives, self-portraits, landscapes, houses, children, and other people; young and old, wearing traditional clothes or just jeans and T-shirt. Some photos showed daily scenes from the lives of people living in a village – people on the street or in front of a house. Despite those simple motifs, the photos were very expressive.  

    In addition to the pictures, there were sheets with texts and phrases, written by the artists themselves: poems, thoughts, and personal experiences which gave context to the exhibited photos. The names of the artists have not been published, and also most of the group members don’t want to be mentioned by their real name, since it could get them into trouble.  

    Organizer of the event was the collective “Act Ost”. Having started out as a loose group of friends they now fight for rights for women and queer people and against racism and discrimination in Eastern Europe, Afghanistan, Iran and also in Leipzig. “We want to document moments of freedom from patriarchy and racism, with the hope that these moments will impact you far beyond the exhibition”, the group itself says about their project.  

    Holding the exhibition in “Die Bäckerei” in Plagwitz was no coincidence, but a sign of support and solidarity with the housing project. In autumn last year unknowns threw pig fat on the walls of the building – probably an antimuslim attack on one of the only BIPoC-housing projects in Leipzig. “Against discrimination, racism and hostility towards queer people and migrants” – that’s what the collective fights for.  

    In the beginning, the exhibition “moments” was meant to support one single person, especially financially. But soon the idea came up to make something bigger, to start a project which could reach more people. “With this project, we want to strengthen our group and our network, show solidarity and appreciate the courage of the artists.” By selling the photos, the artists were also supported financially. Extra donations and the income from the bar and merch booth were collected to support refugees on the move.  

    There are still people fleeing from Afghanistan, even as it gets harder and harder to leave the country and there is little support from the EU and the US. After the combat units of the US and NATO left Afghanistan in August 2021, the Taliban took over the capital Kabul and have since been reigning the country. Since then, the situation of women and queer people in Afghanistan has become much worse. The Taliban have restricted their freedom of movement, imposed strict dress codes, and banned women and queer people from accessing education. Many people are suffering from hunger and have been victims of sexualised violence. 

    That’s why exhibitions like this are so important. They attract attention and create awareness. And sometimes, that can happen in quite an easy way, showing little things, daily scenes and moments. “We didn’t tell the artists what they should photograph. We made an open call and just asked them to send us pictures from their lives. It was impressive how diverse all the pieces were,” Leo* explains. “It also brought up the question what characterizes an artist or art in general.” Whether or not the photos can be called art or not, the exhibition shows that “moments of freedom are possible”. 


    *Name changed by the editors          

    Titel: pixabay 

    Foto: ActOst

    Hochschuljournalismus wie dieser ist teuer. Dementsprechend schwierig ist es, eine unabhängige, ehrenamtlich betriebene Zeitung am Leben zu halten. Wir brauchen also eure Unterstützung: Schon für den Preis eines veganen Gerichts in der Mensa könnt ihr unabhängigen, jungen Journalismus für Studierende, Hochschulangehörige und alle anderen Leipziger*innen auf Steady unterstützen. Wir freuen uns über jeden Euro, der dazu beiträgt, luhze erscheinen zu lassen.

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