Faces of Kabul


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Join us for this exciting online event about the powerful, inspiring and thought-provoking photo exhibition 'Faces of Kabul'.

‘Faces of Kabul’, a photodocumentary produced by Highlands based photojournalist and writer, Nick Sidle, is the theme of this RSA event. The photostory has been presented as an exhibition at Eden Court in Inverness and Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, and now touring across Scotland in smaller-scale installations. It tells the human story of the people of Kabul and the surrounding areas of Afghanistan in the early months of 2002, shortly after the Taliban regime had fallen.

Nick was given special access at this time to tell a visual story of the world of Afghanistan in the early months after 9/11 which led to the involvement of NATO. He was ‘embedded’ with the soldiers of 1 Royal Anglian, who formed the British contingent of ISAF, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force whose role was as a peacekeeping mission to support the country post the Taliban regime era at that time.

The story he brought back was visually powerful. Nick was invited to tell this story given the integrity of his approach as a photojournalist - not manipulating or staging images but telling a story with honesty and truth as it happens. During the period he was there, in following the soldiers in their day-to-day role and in contact with the Afghan people, he was able to capture ordinary life for the men, women and children of Afghanistan in a period of intense social change as well as the work of western forces. This included, for example, the rebuilding of homes, de-mining the landscape, seeing girls go to school for the first time in years, and women returning to professional roles such as teachers. It was a story of hope, resilience and reflected an optimism about the future. It was a unique portrayal, won international recognition, was presented at locations including the British Library in London, House of Commons, European Parliament in Brussels and prestige venues across the UK. At the time, it had a significant role in challenging perceptions, particularly Islamophobia, which had risen significantly in the months post 9/11.

In 2020, Creative Scotland provided funding for Nick, as the individual artist, to produce a new exhibition, re-visiting this story with the purpose of presenting this in 2021, the 20th anniversary of 9/11. It opens with New York, to set the scene for what was to happen next, the world of Kabul and surrounding areas and the interface of local people with the soldiers of ISAF.

No-one could have foreseen the historic events which unfolded in Afghanistan in August last year which made this exhibition so timely and relevant now from a new angle.

It is a story of Afghanistan from a different perspective, with a reminder that beyond the politics and conflict, we must never forget the lives of ordinary people – the men, women, children – lives not that dissimilar from our own. It is a moving story told through the power of images, and one which will take you into a world we have all seen through media coverage but will help you see it with new eyes. Viewing Afghanistan from the relatively recent historical setting of 2002, provides a route to help us all explore, understand and empathise further with the same world today.

Eamonn McCabe former Picture Editor of The Guardian and Presenter of Britain in Focus, a history of photography said about 'Faces of Kabul':

'Documentary photographers are not after glamour but truth. What is happening in schools, with housing with relationships? The photographs are not as stark as bombed towers and tanks on the streets, the tension may have gone from the faces of the locals. These pictures are hard to get published, the story has often moved on to another continent but the real story is the remarkable strength of people trying to rebuild their cities, their towns, their families. And this is where photographers like Nick Sidle come into their own……'.

In this event, Nick Sidle and other speakers (to be confirmed) will speak of the challenges of this photoassignment operating in Afghanistan so close after 9/11. The event will examine how images can impact on and change perceptions and the importance of telling a story with integrity and honesty.

'Faces of Kabul’ the exhibition, has been funded by Creative Scotland and Heartstone sponsors. It is being supported by Glasgow Life, High Life Highland, Glasgow Afghan United, Scottish Ahlul Bayt Society and Interfaith Scotland.

Image courtesy of Nick Sidle

About the Photographer - Nick Sidle

As a photojournalist Nick Sidle’s work has seen him cover documentary, environmental and social subjects with assignments in many countries, including images in Kosovo and Bosnia during the conflicts there and in Afghanistan immediately after the fall of the Taliban regime after the international response to 9/11. He is also known for his underwater images and coverage of military aviation and a major long-term documentary portrait of London. His work has received international recognition with publication worldwide and exhibitions in some of the UK and Europe’s most prestigious and influential venues, including London’s Southbank Centre, the British Library, Edinburgh’s City Arts Centre and The European Parliament. As a writer, Nick Sidle has worked professionally since 1984 producing short stories, material for the stage and commentaries on political, social, environmental and scientific subjects. These activities have in the main been linked to his career as a photographer and photojournalist.

About Heartstone

Heartstone is a non-profit arts/cultural organisation based in Highland Scotland which produces and presents story – literature, photodocumentary, history – through exhibitions, events, performances, publications and online. All Heartstone stories, which may be on social or environmental themes, have an underlying message – to see past prejudice, recognise a common human experience and see stories from different perspectives. For more information on Heartstone, visit website: www.heartstonechandra.com

For further information on this project contact:

Sita Kumari, Director - Heartstone : Tel: 01463 741589/07835 367716Mayfield, High street, Dingwall, Ross-shire IV15 9SS; email: [email protected]

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