Sunday, November 25, 2012

Update: Afghani and Australian Artist Book Collaborations

Recently we received an email from Gali Weiss, an update on a collaborative project between a small group of Australian women artists and women from Afghanistan that Gali instigated in 2009. The concertina books that she refers to can be viewed on The SAWA-Australia site mentioned in her email (see below). The book Women with Wings, illustrated with my linocuts, is reproduced above. The text by Majabeen that accompanies the images reads as follows: 
I am Majabeen, a student of this course.
I was a child with a lot of interests in learning and education but unfortunately I did not have a family to allow me to study. My father used to say (sarcastically) "What is a girl good for? And what good could be her education! I will never let my daughters go to school, just the Qur'an."
I grew up and got married and came to Kabul, got children and tried hard to get them an education. Life went on and at certain moments in life I strongly felt the need to have been literate, meaning I could hardly figure out the difference between a pharmacy and a clothing shop.
Majabeen, daughter of Daulat Khan, a student of this course I hope my story has not been boring.
To learn more about the latest development in the project and pledge your support, visit the link highlighted in Gali's email, which is reproduced here in its entirety: 
In 2009-10 an ambitious art project took place between women artists in Australia and women in Afghanistan. The women wanted to overcome their illiteracy, the artists wanted to support and encourage them to continue their efforts in their right to be literate.
What eventuated was beyond an act of support. It resulted in collaborations between Australian women and women in Afghanistan, integrating images and script in beautiful works of art. The Australian artists produced small concertina-type books in lino print, etchings, photography and other techniques, the Afghan women wrote their life experience into them.
The quality and significance of the books have been recognized by all who have seen them, including the State Library of Queensland which has acquired them as a collection, with the proceeds gone back to the Vocational School.
Moreover, the books tell the stories of the women in Afghanistan in their own words and their own gestures of handwritten script.
This project shows a particular historical moment in time and place. As the messenger for the project who carried the works of the Australian artists to Kabul I now want you to share the experience, so I want to reproduce all art and text with English translation as a high quality art book.
By purchasing a copy of the proposed book you, too, become a part of the project and have a role in it. This publication not only tells the different perspectives of those who were involved in it but is an unmediated voicing of experiences of women in Afghanistan who only recently have been able to write their own stories, who show strength and resilience, now for us to read and thereby to hear.
Altogether there are 36 concertina books. I cannot reproduce them all here, but I include a few examples for you to see, with a few lines of the text written by the Afghan women. If you want to browse through all of them you can go to SAWA-Australia (SA). The final book will have 88 pages, printed in full colour on matt art paper, hard cover.

Gali Weiss