Sunday, January 8, 2012

UPDATE: Unfolding Projects: Afghan and Australian Artist's Books

A selection of the artist's books
(Photograph by Gali Weiss)
In late 2009 fourteen Australian women artists were invited to participate in a project initiated by Melbourne artist Gali Weiss, who was initially incited by the desperate situation of women in Afghanistan, many of whom are restricted or even forbidden to attend school. As a result, numerous women are illiterate. The project’s aim was establish a dialogue with some of these women via the imagery created by the Australian artists in a series of small concertina books. The Afghan women were invited to respond by writing their own stories in the language or characters of their choice. (See Blog Posts May 18, 2010 and December 2, 2010.) The books were sent to Afghanistan in April, 2010 and just over 6 months later the 36 of the original 53 books were returned to Australia, each with its own handwritten text.

Some of the Afghan writers (photograph by Latifa)
Recently we received some fantastic news. In September, 2010 Gali Weiss and Barbara Kameniar presented a joint paper, Unfolding Projects: Afghan and Australian artist’s books collaborations at Monash University’s IMPACT 7 Printmaking Conference. Subsequently they were approached by the Queensland State Library with an offer to buy the complete set of books for the library’s permanent collection. Once this has been finalized (in approximately April, 2012) the proceeds of the acquisition will go to the Women’s Vocational Centre in Afghanistan. A book documenting the project is also in the planning stages, and once published, this will provide further income for the Vocational Centre.

The 14 Australian artists were:

Rosalind Atkins, Tracey Avery, Marian Crawford, Ann Cunningham, Dianne Ellis, Susan Gordon-Brown, Jennifer Kamp, Deborah Klein, Anne Riggs, Annelise Scott, Krystal Seigerman, Tanya Ungeri, Gali Weiss and Christine Willcocks;

The Afghan writers were:

Sagia, Mansora, Shakila, Hamida, Fatima, Agila, Majabeen, Mahjan, Samira, Sara, Basira, Anita, Nafiza, Amina, Jamila, Mariam, Zoteh, Nadia, Zahida, Laila, Morsal, Nazia, Jamila, Anis Gul, Lida, Marwa, Habiba, Mah Gul, Taqui Jan. Two of the participants wished to withhold their names from the public.

Until 12 months before they received the books, many of the Afghan writers had been illiterate. To learn about other similarly courageous women, visit SAWA (Support Association for the Women of Afghanistan) HERE

(Pictured below: Women With Wings, 2010, photographed just prior to its departure for Afghanistan. Click on image to enlarge.)