September 29 - November 11, 2012
Curated by Piro Patton
In 2005, I made the first of a series of trips to Afghanistan, where I began photographing refugees in makeshift living quarters in the war-ravaged remains of the former Russian government buildings of Kabul. Many families had been in exile for years, having fled the Soviet occupation of the 1980s, the internecine Mujahideen wars of the 1990s when Kabul was under siege, or the Taliban. In 2002, Afghans began returning to their homeland from Pakistan and Iran after the fall of the Taliban. Nearly everyone I met expressed great relief and looked forward to peace and a new start.
By 2007, an estimated 4.8 million refugees had come back to Afghanistan. Most could not afford the high rents of Kabul, so they settled where they could, hoping to find work that often never materialized. Feeling great compassion for their struggles, I was compelled to return several times, most recently in 2009. As my ties with these families deepened, I followed them into such places as the women’s hospital and the women’s prison. Each trip furthered my understanding of the political and social complexities of Afghan culture. Entrenched attitudes, coupled with rampant illiteracy, create the oppressive conditions under which Afghan women are forced to live.
In these photographs I call attention to these ordinary Afghans, who go unnoticed and unrecorded in the larger narrative of the conflict in Afghanistan today.
– Andrea Camuto