TUCKED away just off the National Mall, a new exhibit at Washington, DC’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery brings an Afghan neighbourhood to the United States capital. “Turquoise Mountain: Artists Transforming Afghanistan” explores the impact Turquoise Mountain, a non-governmental organisation, has had on the Murad Khani neighbourhood of Kabul, and the way in which it has helped to regenerate the artistic output of the area. Yet the exhibition also highlights the problematic manner in which the West perceives Afghanistan: it is a country that, in the public consciousness, seems jarred between a violent recent history and a legendary ancient culture.
A video installation introduces visitors to the area’s tumultuous past, as seen through the eyes of an elderly resident of Kabul. Having witnessed the gradual deterioration of the area, the man’s inclusion offers an important perspective rooted in first-hand experience. The exhibit itself is stunning, with some attention given to the artisans themselves. Intricately carved wooden structures, including a lushly-pillowed gazebo in the very centre, are installed around the periphery to recreate…Continue reading