Unfolding Projects: Afghan and Australian Artist Book Collaborations
Fourteen women artists from Australia have created artist books of images, and have proposed a creative collaboration to women in Afghanistan, asking them to engage with the images by placing text throughout each book.
The project is a response to the dire situation of many women in Afghanistan, particularly in relation to literacy. Women in Afghanistan have for years experienced extreme hardships not only due to war but specifically because of their gender. Many women are illiterate because they were, and often still are, forbidden, restricted, or discouraged to go to school or complete their basic education.
With the assistance of SAWA – Australia (Support Association for the Women of Afghanistan), 53 books were delivered in 2010 to a vocational training centre in Kabul where women are gaining literacy skills for the first time in their lives. The 53 books comprise the concertinas pictured below and their multiples.
The intent of the artists participating in this project has been to mobilise a process of support and dialogue with Afghan women that at the same time conveys, "You/we are not alone." The books were envisioned as a conversation – a conversation between women who are in different places, in different circumstances, but who wish to share a voice.
Just over six months from their delivery to Afghanistan, 36 of the 53 books returned to Australia.
They were exhibited at the IMPACT7 International Multi-disciplinary Printmaking Conference in Melbourne on 27 – 30 September, 2011.
The books are now housed in the State Library of Queensland, which acquired them in 2012. All proceeds of the sale have been directed to the OPAWC Vocational Training Centre in Kabul.
Photography of artwork: Susan Gordon-Brown 2010
Translation of Dari and Pashtun: Mehdy Faizy 2010
Click on an image below to view the collaborative artists' book and translation.