March 20
The Afghan American Artists and Writers Association (AAAWA) in collaboration with the Worth Ryder Art Gallery at UC Berkeley present, “Emergenc(y): Afghan Lives Beyond the Forever War,” an exhibition that seeks to shed light on artistic expression from Afghanistan and its global diaspora around the lived experience of 20 years of occupation, displacement, and the disorientation of life in the wake of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. The title reflects the emergent futures that germinate in situations of ongoing crisis that Afghans have been navigating for several decades. While this exhibit highlights Afghan experiences of trauma and suffering, it also moves beyond dominant representations of Afghans as passive victims through focusing on the rich artistic traditions and cultural heritage of Afghan communities that has too often been overlooked. We seek to show how Afghans in the diaspora and within Afghanistan are using art as a tool to reclaim humanity and critique a world of impenetrable borders to reimagine and reconstruct their futures.
This exhibit will center the artistry and voices of Afghans whose work examines the human impact of occupation, the recent withdrawal of the US, and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Afghans throughout the world in their struggle to search for refuge and a sense of permanence, place, and belonging. Our exhibit begins with the questions of how do Afghans, both those who remain in Afghanistan and those displaced waiting in limbo, make sense of twenty years of both prolonged intervention and sudden abandonment? What historical traditions and contemporary practices of art, writing, and advocacy are being resurrected in this moment where the language of policy, military strategy, and scholarship, have failed to understand the kinds of futures people imagine for themselves?
About AAAWA:
The Afghan American Artists and Writers Association is a North American-based collective that aims to give artists and writers in the Afghan diaspora a platform to feature their work to a broad audience through organizing events, community forums, exhibitions, creative workshops, and public commentaries. AAAWA seeks to amplify work that critically engages mainstream U.S. discourses around Afghanistan, where Afghan voices are either routinely ignored or reduced to cultural tropes. We hope this work can expand public understanding of the diverse ways of living and thinking that exist in the diaspora. Through showcasing the multiplicity of voices and experiences that exist within Afghan communities, AAAWA illuminates issues ranging from hybrid identities to gender and sexuality, to the multigenerational impacts of war, including the fallout of American imperialism and capitalism. We see ourselves connected through not only our ancestral ties to Afghanistan but also through a shared vision for social justice for marginalized communities globally.
About the Worth Ryder Art Gallery
The Worth Ryder Art Gallery is an educational art space that has served as a cultural and artistic resource and community center for undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, alumni, and the Bay Area community since 1960, and is a central social and artistic hub of the UC Berkeley Department of Art Practice. The gallery supports students in exhibiting their artwork in a professional gallery context, serves as an exhibition platform for emerging contemporary artistic strategies, and brings challenging and thought-provoking artwork to the UC Berkeley campus. Worth Ryder Art Gallery Anthropology and Art Practice building