Current Exhibit

My first exhibition of images from the September/October 2009 journey to Afghanistan is currently at Mango Tree Imports, 2124A Rt 50, Ballston Spa, New York   #518-884-4652 until January 31st.  There will be a special event January 8th, 2010.

Poster for Friday’s event.

Here are two of the images that are featured in the exhibit.  The first is a panoramic taken from the roof of the house of an Afghan family who introduced us to a variety of Afghan public officials.

View of Kabul from Asad and Noorai’s roof.

One of the most moving interviews we had was with Dr. Soraya Sobhrang, Commissioner  for Women’s Rights of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission.  She is an OBGYN who fled Afghanistan during the Taliban rule. She has chosen to return to Afghanistan to help her native people, particularly women, at tremendous risk for her own safety.  She has received death threats because of her activities.

Dr. Soraya Sobhrang.

To learn more of my current conditions in Afghanistan and my experiences please contact me to speak to your group or to present an exhibition of my images.

I also am very honored to have received and honorable mention for my submission for the members show at the Albany Center Gallery juried by Tammas Groft, Deputy Director of Collecti0ns and Exhibitions of the Albany Institute of History and Art.  The photograph is one of my first attempts at High Dynamic Range Photography.  Believe it or not it is of a friends compound in Kabul, Afghanistan.  When I learn how to convert this type of image to a format that I can up load I will include it here.

Our last days together

Boys and their toys at Camp Eggers. National Guard from Indiana at a “small” base in Kabul

Afghanistan, 2009

Afghanistan, 2009

Afghanistan, 2009

One of or members wanted to buy musical instruments for her daughter so Asad and Noorai, our Afghan friends who Jodie from CodePink knew from their time in the Bay area, took her to the musicians street. One man who made rebab’s payed for us. The high light was the “older” gentleman of approximately 40 years started to sing a Pushtu song of the love of Afghanistan. Having lived in Kabul all his life in a family that followed the musical tradition of father and mother teaching their children who then carried the information to the next generation. During the Taliban time they buried their instruments in the ground in the basement of their house. If they had been discovered they would have been severely beaten or killed. We all felt his love and our hearts melted as we too found a peaceful, joyous, beautiful county from the tone and tenor of his song.

Afghanistan, 2009

Media Benjamin and Jodie Evans stand on either side of to very brave and courageous women who spoke of the shia family law and the protest they arranged to get the law changed. Telling of how empowered – as well as terrified – they felt as 200 to 250 brave women faced off hundreds of very angry men and women. They continue their work knowing that they have the support of many and the revolution once again is beginning.

October 2nd, 2009 in Afghanistan

Afghanistan, 2009

Afghanistan, 2009

Orphanage children

Shinkai Zahune Karokhail member of Afghan National Assembly

Right Place at the Right Time

Afghanistan, 2009

We keep busy almost every minute with meetings of all types. One of the highlights a couple of days ago was listening to Soraya director of women’s rights in the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. She was extremely energetic with a sparkle in her eye. She spoke of the work they did to protest and successfully change the Siai (forgive my incorrect spelling) family law. She invited us to attend a women’s conference Afghanistan – India – Pakistan Trialogue for Peace that just happens to be while we are here. So yesterday we attended the opening and met with many different people during a tea break and lunch. The day before yesterday we visited Shinkai Zahine Karokhail, a member of the Afghan National Assembly, in her home experiencing her dedication to women using her position to prevent unjust laws from passing for women and to create a better position for women. It surprises me just how much access we have had to these people. Must get to breakfast to give me energy for the days activities.

Beautiful People

A twenty-five year old mother.

Afghanistan, 2009

Afghanistan – In Love Again

Afghanistan, 2009

Our group has arrived safely in Kabul and we are staying in a nice quest house with a beautiful open court yard surrounded with morning glories, roses and a large bird aviary filled with chirping canaries. It really is good to be back. Yes I can see many changes beginning with the new airport built right next to the old one – lots of marble. Customs was very quick – only a few on the plane and not many foreigners. I recognized much and yet recognized very little. The landscape is the same with many more glass covered taller buildings that have been here four years ago. The approach to the airport is a newer 4 lane road and there is much road construction to deal with the terrible traffic.

Our guide and driver are experience and knowledgeable. Are heads are being filled with very candid discussions with NGO’s, members of Parliament, business people….. Mush more to write later. Our days are so full that is difficult to find the time to write.

I wanted to give you a flavor of the beauty of the Afghan people from some photos taken in a tent city across from our hosts for an amazing dinner with ministers form the government, journalist, members of the royal family…..I get a head of myself. The poverty is heart wrenching. Sorry for the tease but I must get to breakfast.

Speaking at Bogota Conference

The promised photo of me speaking in Bogota.

Brief Account of Speaking in Bogota

Bogota, Columbia

For those that have been following this post before I go on to the second leg and original reason for this post, I will share with you my experience at the conference Museum communities and Reconciliation. I spoke on the second day of the conference after participating that morning with all the participants and donors in a open discussion. We had been handed the day before our assigned questions and I had the opening one concerning weather I thought that museums could act as truth commissions? I had practiced my talk that morning adding changes based on the previous days participants clarifying and giving a few more details. Then I panicked, “What was I doing there amongst all the participants that were dealing with life or death as they spoke out for truth in their communities and created memory space and museums for the disappeared in their communities. So I called Frank, my husband, almost in tears out of how humbled I felt. With his calm voice, my feet once more planted firmly even if a bit shaky on the ground grabbed all my stuff so that I could check out, met my friends and headed for the museum and the morning discussion. It was a fascinating open debate with numerous views. To summarize we most felt that museums were not truth commissions and should not take the place of but could act very responsibility to give truth and open the publics eyes to discuss and experience difficult and troubling concepts and issues surrounding specific events and that we hold a great deal of responsibility to collect information relating to these events making it available to the public and perhaps the very truth commissions that might arise.

The afternoon talks took place in a larger hall in a library for a large Columbian Bank one of the sponsors with video conferencing to several other communities. After getting off to a late start realized that there would not be time for me to participate in the question and answer period and that I would respond later via email so that I could leave immediately to catch my flights to JFK/Dubai/Kabul. The participant before me was a very sweet Dominican nun who unfortunately like all of us had a large subject to cover in 35 minutes and went over her given time. My talk went well and as you can see from the two photos [one in this post and a second in the next post] to an audience of approximately 250 to 300. From the well wishing and thanks I received as I left the hall I felt blessed and sent on my way.

Jorge the driver to the airport was waiting and we headed off literally in the sun set for a traffic jam, crazy but safe driving to the airport to arrive on time to be checked and rechecked an pat searched before arriving at the gate meeting a women born in Lima, Peru who now lives In New York City who had watched the towers fall. I told her of the Tribute Center and she felt that it was time to visit and find her own sense of peace

First Day in Bogota, Columbia

Bogota, Columbia

Arrived in Bogata, Columbia at 5:30 this morning to watch the sun rise as I was driven by Jorge who picked me up to take me to the hotel. The hotel is close the ridge of Mountains that are on the east side of the city. The conference, Museos Comundades y Reconciliacion [Museum Communities and Reconciliation]. Today the three of us that have arrived – Professor Ciraj Rossool from the History Department of University of the Western Cape, South Africa; Phil Gordon, manager of the Aboriginal Heritage Unit, Sydney, Australia; and yours truly – had a really good lunch in a small cafe on the corner of a cobble stone street. Great conversations over lunch discussing repatriation, working with various communities, communities from conflict, the history of Columbia and what Cristina and others hope to see happen and the role they are playing. I am learning constantly. Also seeing the similarities of much to do and little funding and few and fewer staff and yet the ideas and what is being accomplished is amazing. So nice with the diverse accents in the conversation mix.

We have had a beautiful blue sky and fluffy cloud day. I wandered some around the hotel this morning through a very manicured park. The city of 7 million people seems quite quite considering.

We also had a lovely tour in English of the Gold Museum full and I mean full of beautiful Pre-columbian gold artifacts. With my love of Peru and understanding of the shamanic traditions I was seeing many transition pieces of half man half bird or jaguar or frog or bat. Some pieces were very tine and others large but each had an amazing amount of detail.

The organizer of the conference is taking us to another part of the city for dinner this evening and we will be meeting more people tomorrow for a discussion among the panelist for the conference.

I am very honored to be representing the New York State Museum and the US. I met the women from the US Embassy funding this trip for me. Also over lunch got the questions about President Obama and what did I think……

must get ready for dinner.

Fund Raiser Success/Getting Ready

Afghanistan

Thank you to all those who have supported this project. With all your generous donations I have raised enough to pay for my plane fare and a portion of the trip expenses.

I will now be leaving in the wee hours of the night/morning of September 22/23 for of all places Bogota, Columbia. Now you say, “Where did that come from? I thought she was going to Afghanistan?” I am with a three day stop to deliver a paper for work. I work at the New York State Museum with the World Trade Center collection and will be talking about how exhibits can assist with the reconciliation and healing from a tragedy. Other panelist are from the Anne Frank House, Amsterdam; Australia, South Africa, Argentina, Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. So Needless to say I am working on my talk which needs to be written for simultaneous translation.

I will be arriving in Kabul on September 27th. Still no specific on what we will actually be doing in Kabul. This doesn’t entirely surprise me. Business is handled differently in Afghanistan. At the moment the delegation will be given a dinner to meet with past and present government ministers, NGO heads and Kabul intellectuals on the evening of the 28th… something I never would get to do on my own.

My biggest process right now is packing for two different places and with all my camera gear staying within the weight limit. Perhaps the next entry will be from Columbia.