Interview with Golbedin Elham by Kirstine Autzen and Hanifa Alizada

“I started photographing with very old and outdated equipment. I mostly shot with a simple Zenit camera. Lack of money often kept me from continuing photography. My hands felt tied and I sometimes felt deeply discouraged.”

This was the beginning of photographer Golbedin Elham’s career, when he started photographing in 1993 with the help of his instructor Shameen Khan. He attended long term photojournalism courses and studied with French - Iranian photographer Manoocher Deghati for two years. Today, Elham is the experienced one amongst young men and women moving into photography.

In Afghanistan today, the young are free to pursue a photographic career, given that their family supports it. Whereas this could be seen as a banal right in many countries, in this war tormented country it is not a given.

"Though the camera was my beloved tool, I was scared of it too,” Elham explains, when asked about the status of the camera during the Taliban regime:

“At the first days of Taliban government, despite everything, I dared to take out my camera in some corner areas and hastily capture one or two photographs but gradually seeing the cruelty in public worsen, I got scared and forfeited my career and interest. It made me migrate to another country for a while”

In the opinion of the Taliban, creating and capturing images was an anti-Islamic action and an unforgivable sin. During Mojahedin government from 1979-1989, photography had been possible, but the Taliban dictatorship completely banned it:

“Carrying a camera could get you killed”, Elham adds. The interpretation of the koran was that the act of representing the perfection of Allah’s creations suggests equality to him – which would be blasphemic.

Today, though some elderly people still shy away from having their picture taken, but the interpretation is different. Photography has found its place in the people’s lives.

Photographers are now developing their communication with the international society. Elham finds it crucial that Afghan photographers start contributing with their insider view of the country with an, as he calls it, “Afghan attitude”. And this does not necessarily mean portraying the country in a rosy red perspective:

“The real image of a situation can carry an honest constructive message. No one is rightly called a photographer without having a critical eye. I never shoot at first glance, I spent some time exploring the situation and the subjects - and then decide what I really want to reflect from this situation,” he says and continues:

“Ideally, I want the street and war children of my country, who have been the motifs of my photographs, to also be my audience.
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Jawad Hamdard Kia was born in 1986 in the Urozgan province of Afghanistan. He has been living in the Bamyan province for years now.

Kia has been working in the Central Highlands Region since 2005, with a variety of legal organizations mainly within the political field of development and social justice. Currently he is working as a Regional Programme Coordinator with the Organization of Human Welfare (OHW) for three provinces (Parwan, Bamyan and Diakundi), in Afghanistan.

His works has been published in magazines, newspapers, and websites such as BBC and the Kabul Press. Kia is passionate about showing the beauty of his country.

Sharing his photography through the media is his contribution to deeper insight into Afghan culture and works as a dialogue between the nations of the world.

Jawad Hamdard Kia
Mail: mj.hamdardkia65@gmail.com
Phone: 0093 778231384
Skype: hamdardkia
Facebook: AfghanPhotographyNetwork
Shukur dances in a party in Kabul and a man from the crowd has also joined him on the dance floor.
Shukur, 21 years old, was kidnapped in Kabul when he was 12 years old and taken to Kunduz where he was kept as a Bacha Bereesh. After five years he escaped and returned to Kabul where he now earns a living working as a dancer.

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Bacha Baazi is the name of a cultural tradition of young boys, dressed as women, dancing for men as entertainment. The dancing boys are called Bacha Bereesh (Boys without Beards). A young boy will live in the keep of a powerful man, and he will dress as a woman and dance for parties of men. Many times he will also become the man’s “wife”.

Many years of war have caused a breakdown in Afghani society and an abuse of power by those in control. The tradition of Bacha Baazi has become increasingly more common and many young boys are kidnapped and abducted into the practice. Homeless children and orphans are especially vulnerable.

Copyright: Barat Ali Batoor
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