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Afghan Photo Exhibition Signals Artistic Revival

Afghanistan, a nation once renowned for its artists and intellectuals, has again begun to sprout a vibrant arts movement. For years, artistic expression was stifled in the war-torn nation by religious extremists but now has been reborn. Evidence of this comes in an exhibit of photographs taken by young Afghans and now being displayed in Washington, DC's, Goethe-Institut. VOA's George Dwyer has more.

"Life and Nothing Else" is the name of this photo exhibit organized by the Goethe-Institut of Kabul, Afghanistan and now on display in Washington, D.C.

"This exhibition has works by six young Afghan photographers. They seek to show life as they know it, presenting their view of everyday life in Afghanistan," says Norma Broadwater.

She is a Cultural Programs administrator with the Goethe-Institute in Washington, D.C., part of a global network of cultural outreach centers funded by the German government.

She tells us, "Afghanistan at one time was a thriving artistic community and it has gone through a period where the arts were repressed and a number of creative people left the country, but I believe that this exhibition shows a lot of beauty in the country. It also shows still an acknowledgment of the beauty of religion."

Most of all, "Life and Nothing Else" shows normality, in simple scenes of ordinary life, such as in a series of photos focusing on living rooms, or in the shots of young people going about their business. No detail, it seems, was too small to catch the eye of the enterprising, up-and-coming artists whose work is featured here.

The noted German photographer Wolfgang Bellwinkel worked with Goethe-Institut in Kabul to train the young Afghans who took these pictures. Now, it is expected that they themselves will help train the next generation of Afghan photographic artists as the country moves to reclaim its interrupted tradition of artistic achievement.