The public exhibition Afghans in Auburn is the artistic outcome of the Auburn Instagram: Wish You Were Here project. This community arts and cultural development initiative was part of Auburn Community Development Network’s (ACDN) 2014 community cultural program. At once a participatory and empowering process, the field of community cultural work is concerned with mobilising the strengths of individuals and communities through the modes of arts and culture. Fostering creative expression is key to this so that everyone is afforded a space to speak, to self-define, to give voice to their experiences, to make sense of their lives. Indeed, the role of culture in community building is crucial if we are to engage, educate, develop and support diverse communities in sustainable, meaningful and creative ways.
The unifying principles of human rights, social justice and access were at the heart of this project and it shows in the stunning images, scenes and faces captured by the participants whose embrace and owner- ship of this creative initiative has been such a guiding light for us in a year of social and political challenges.
After seven months of creative workshops led by artists and cultural workers, we arrive at the public exhibition as a gesture towards recognising the gift we have before us in Afghan young people. The participants have learnt the craft of photography with flair and applied the theory to luminous practice with pathos and care.
We thank all the participants for the blessing of their presence and commitment to this project; the wonderful Geneve O’Connor for the love she brings to this work, and Mr Karimi, president of the Australian Afghan Hassanian Youth Association for his unconditional support of the project; Auburn Council for providing us with the opportunity to exhibit at Peacock Gallery, and Community Partnerships of the Australia Council for funding this brilliant project.
Let’s embrace creativity through community cultural work as a way towards nurturing well-being and renewing those whose lives have been ruptured and fractured by war, conflict and indifference to suffering. In the meantime, let’s also celebrate the beauty that can be envisaged through the eyes of Auburn’s Afghan community and support young people in transformative work that allows them an autonomous space to grow and the freedom to create.
Joanne Saad,Barry Gamba & Paula Abood
Artists and Cultural Workers at ACDN January 2015
Afghans in Auburn is being exhibited at Peacock Gallery and Auburn Arts Studio till 7th February 2015.
Auburn Botanic Gardens, Corner of Chiswick and Chisholm Roads, Auburn
Wednesday – Sunday