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by Thomas Grabka

An exhibition of photographs taken in Afghanistan can never be innocent.

Perhaps , the photographs of women show this most clearly,  because  they represent not only the biggest challenge, the greatest break with taboos for the Afghan observer, but they compete, moreover, with   the numerous stereotypes to be found in  the  media in the West. 

Grabka’s portraits of women do not only show the de-individualised, almost dehumanised figures in their bright blue covering. Grabka is not tempted, like his Western colleagues, to represent Afghan women for propaganda: neither in the pose of the repressed woman nor in the victorious stance of the liberated woman, lifting the torturous veil from her face.

Grabka’s pictures are, at the same time, always looking for traces of Afghan history from the time before the Taliban. He is never prey to the illusion that the Taliban is an Afghan invention. He never portrays Afghan society as backward.

He is looking for a future for Afghanistan which is not dictated by the  foreign values and directions of the new masters from the West, but for a future which is nourished by the wellsprings of   Afghanistan’s own  past.

Dr. Carolin Emcke

June 24 – July 24,  2005