Skate Girls of Kabul at the Saatchi Gallery
Skate Girls of Kabul is the perfect example of the power of art and visual activism. Renowned portrait photographer Jessica Fulford Dobson captures a series of photographs which exhibit the Afghan female skateboarding subculture, and its contribution to the growth and development of the country. Showcasing girls who participate in the Skateistan project along with its educational Back to School programme. Started by Australian skateboarder Oliver Percovich, Skateistan is a non-political, non-profit organisation combining the ideals of skateboarding with education.
Sponsors Roshan, the leading Afghan telecoms agency, actively encourage innovative new ways of developing the country, which is why their support of this exhibition in a world-renowned gallery is so vital as a presentation of Afghan potential.
Each photo captures a range of emotions from fear and pride, to fierce determination. These girls are taking ownership of their future and learning the skills required to be future leaders through the principles of skateboarding, resonating within each photograph. The kinetic energy and vibrant colours of their traditional dress contrast one another, yet are symbolic of the progression of a nation finding its place in the modern world while holding on to its traditions and values.
The photos also capture the brightness and resilience of Afghanistan, a land that has been a pawn in international affairs, and that is still working to overcome conflict and struggle. It is important both for Afghanis and the rest of the world to be able to look upon this nation for its true potential and to see the beauty that perseveres through everything.
The American pastime of skateboarding, born from the margins of society’s misfits and outsiders, gave them the freedom to express themselves and take pride in their practice, dedication and hard work. In these ways, skateboarding is the perfect sport for young girls in a nation where female activity outside of the home could potentially draw the wrong sort of attention. It celebrates individual achievement, yet there is a great sense of camaraderie within skateboarding circles. It allows kids to be kids in a place where many are forced to grow up so quickly. It also shows boys that their female counterparts are just as capable as them. Perhaps this might have a lasting effect for the future of a more equal and prosperous Afghanistan.
Photos: Andrei Andi
Skate Girls of Kabul is at Saatchi Gallery from 15th until 28th April, for further information visit here.