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Press Release: Afghanistan: Chronotopia and Kaboul: Le Passé Confisqué
August 30, 2002

For Immediate Release

For Information and Visuals Contact:
Vinod Hopson
Exhibitions Coordinator
(713) 223-5522 ext. 19, Fax 713-223-4411



September 5 – October 13, 2002
Wed - Sat 11am - 5pm
FotoFest Headquarters Downtown

HOUSTON, TEXAS (August 30, 2002) – To mark the first anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, FotoFest will present two exhibits on Afghanistan, its artistic heritage and the legacies of war. The Houston exhibitions are the first time these works are being shown in the U.S.

The Afghanistan programs at FotoFest’s Vine Street Headquarters are being exhibited in conjunction with FotoFest’s sponsorship of the acclaimed here is new york storefront exhibit on the 9.11 attacks in New York . The New York exhibit is being shown at Miller Outdoor Theatre, September 11 - 12, 2002, and Memorial City Mall (I-10 and Gessner), September 14 - October 13, 2002. (A separate press release is available for here is new york.)

The two Afghanistan exhibitions will open Thursday, September 5, 2002, 6 pm – 10 pm with the Downtown Stomp Around and will continue through October 13, 2002. The work will be exhibited at FotoFest’s Headquarters Downtown at Vine Street Studios, 1113 Vine Street, Wednesday – Saturday, 11 am – 5 pm.

Afghanistan Chronotopia is a haunting look at the legacies of contemporary warfare, empty landscapes and the scarred buildings of Kabul, emptied of all human presence. The 12 large-scale color pigment jet prints by award-winning British photographer Simon Norfolk were taken between 1979 and 2001.

Norfolk’s photographs pay homage to 32 years of war that marked Afghanistan and its capital city since he first began photographing there. Much of the economic and social structure of Afghanistan was destroyed during the long and costly war between Soviet troops and rebel Mujahedin in the 1980’s. Upon the withdrawal of Soviet troops at the end of the decade, infighting among victorious Mujahedin warlords led to a protracted and bloody civil war. By the end of the 1990’s the fundamentalist Taliban claimed control of more than half the nation and continued the fight against fellow Afghanis of the rival Northern Alliance.

Rather than portraying the Tora Bora caves that have become familiar as the hideout for the last remnants of the al-Qaida network and the Taliban, Norfolk shows the former presidential palace, the radio and television stations, and the Kabul bus fleet, all of which were once impressive examples of Kabul’s urban infrastructure that now lies in ruins.

Kaboul, Le Passé Confisqué: Trésors du Musée de Kaboul 1931-1965 looks at Afghanistan from a very different perspective – the remarkable artistic heritage of Afghanistan which has been at the crossroads of Eastern and Western cultures for generations. French photographer Dominique Darbois photographed the art objects of the Kabul Museum in the 1960’s as part of a French documentation of Afghan art. Twenty-seven of Darbois black and white photographs illustrate the treasures of this Museum from pre-historic times through the coming of Buddhism and Islam.

Dominique Darbois made her photographs of art in the Kabul Museum between 1963 and 1965. The black and white images of statues, carvings and vessels document nearly three millennia of civilization in the region from the time of Aryan invaders at the turn of the second century BC through the Persian and Buddhist eras, into the coming of Islam during the twelfth century AD. Afghanistan’s unique place on the border between Arabia and Asia meant that it was the bridge over which cultures and commerce passed for centuries. It is there where South Asian motifs appear on Egyptian style pottery. Much of the art photographed by Darbois has been destroyed during the 30 years of war that have plagued the country.

FotoFest’s presentation of the Afghanistan exhibitions have been supported by the City of Houston Through the Texas Commission on the Arts and the Cultural Arts Council of Houston/Harris County, Fletcher Thorne-Thomsen and Margaret Regan.

Please see separate information for FotoFest-sponsored videos and films related to 9.11 programming.