A glimpse of artwork from a conflict zone: Afghanistan

Wed, 27 Apr 2016 14:41:00 BST

Dilara Changis, a Masters student of Contemporary Art and Design, hopes his exhibition titled ‘A glimpse of artwork from a conflict zone: Afghanistan’ will have helped champion the work of artists who work in difficult circumstances within a conflict zone.

The exhibition was opened by the University of Huddersfield Vice-Chancellor, Professor Bob Cryan – who is also mentoring Dilara through his post-graduate study – on 14April and culminated on 21 April.

Born in Afghanistan himself, Dilara says he knows first-hand ‘the struggle to simply exist from day to day’ and hopes the paintings and photographs on show are a way of demonstrating his admiration and courage of the artistic talent to those who are doing what they love despite their circumstances.

It was originally focused on the traditional aspects of Afghan art such as rugs – this is the method artists have used to tell the stories of the country throughout history.

“In more recent times, however, the rugs have turned to portray the realities of a country at war with guns, bombs and Soviet related symbols now invading the designs.

“I picked works to exhibit that I thought were diverse and showed a side to Afghanistan that most people have not seen before and have no recognition of,” says Dilara.

To allow the audience to embrace a new cross cultural experience was very important to me in planning the exhibition. I think the artworks all encompass different themes, through the differing imaginations of the artists, but all are on the central theme of conflict, as illustrated in the title of the exhibition: ‘A glimpse of artwork from a conflict zone’.

“All are a way of making the voices of the artists' heard through their visual imagery.”

The artists whose works are displayed in the exhibition were found through social media whilst some were also contacted through Afghan art networks that Dilara had discovered through research for his degree.

Of these artists, Dilara says: “[They] have played a strong role in the work I have reproduced.

“It has been an absolute pleasure getting to know [them] and to understand their minds and imaginations through the violence and conflict they have seen.

“War has become a part of their identities, but does not wholly define who they are. It has made me appreciate all the things we take for granted as artists in the democratic western world, such as freedom of expression and freedom to produce what we wish. Some of the artists I worked with were risking their lives and struggling in simply being able to communicate with me sometimes via the internet.

“For me, the experience has helped me learn more about the modernising voices of Afghanistan; those that embrace freedoms, equality and women's rights for example and I am hopeful that in the future those voices transcend Afghanistan's troubled borders.”

By holding this exhibition Dilara says he hopes it will have ‘opened up a new discussion and question people's preconceptions about Afghanistan and about art from Afghanistan too’.

“This research for me is definitely a continuing strand of my interests and something I would love to pursue to PhD level, but that will be dependent upon funding,” he added.

Back to news index - April