From Fri 01 October, we’re opening a new photodocumentary exhibition produced by photographer Nick Sidle, telling a human story of the people of Kabul and the surrounding areas of Afghanistan.
In early 2002, Nick was given special access to tell a visual story of the world of Afghanistan in the first months after 9/11 which led to the involvement of western forces and their allies and the fall of the then Taliban regime. 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 and stabilising mission to support the country and its new government.
The visual narrative he brought back was very powerful. Nick was invited to tell this story partly because of his policy of never manipulating or staging images. As a photojournalist, he feels it is essential to hold to the principle of 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 and their interaction with the local people.
This included for example, the rebuilding of homes, de-mining the landscape and seeing girls go to school for the first time in a number of years. 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.
It started being re-shaped into a new exhibition last year with funding from Creative Scotland with the purpose of presenting this in 2021, the 20th anniversary of 9/11. No-one could have foreseen the dramatic events which have just unfolded in Afghanistan and which have made this exhibition now so timely and relevant.
It tells a human story of Afghanistan, 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 the most recent media coverage but help you see it with new eyes. The setting of 2002 helps us all to explore, understand and empathise with the Afghanistan of today.
Heartstone, the non-profit organisation based in Highland, with the aims of challenging prejudice / intolerance and bringing people together across different backgrounds, cultures and nationalities is supporting Nick in the staging of this exhibition together with the Edinburgh Interfaith Women’s Group and Glasgow Afghans United.
Nick Sidle is grateful for the funding and support of Creative Scotland, High Life Highland and Heartstone for the development and staging of this exhibition at Eden Court and the installation presentations which will be taking shape across the Highlands in 2021/22.