I am Gali Weiss, a Melbourne artist who has been leading a project of art and text exchanges between women artists in Australia and women in Afghanistan since 2009. My aim is to raise funds to publish Making Marks: Australia to Afghanistan, an art book that documents the latest project between 20 Australian women artists and 43 Afghan women in Kabul.
The book will accompany the project’s first complete exhibition at the Counihan Gallery, Melbourne, aligned with the Human Rights Arts and Film Festival, April–May 2020.
Having worked with a core group of artists for 10 years, I am now part of a collective. Our intent for this project has been to take part in a process of support and dialogue with Afghan women who want to be literate. While the Australian artists initiated the concept of the project, it developed through email and phone exchanges between myself and the directors of the Vocational Centre in Kabul run by Organization of Promoting Afghan Women’s Capabilities (OPAWC).
The artists produced imagery consistent with their current arts practice, on handkerchiefs. They chose the handkerchief because it represents emotional experiences and connects to a history of women’s art-and-craft-making. The Afghan women related to the images with embroidery and text in Dari and Pashto, voicing their thoughts and hopes.
We are asking you to support the publication of a book that will act as a visual and literary record of the art works and human exchanges. The book provides a vehicle through which the voices of Afghan women can continue to be heard and through which a group of Australian artists can demonstrate their commitment to using art as a means of connection, support and social transformation. It will, over time, serve as a record of an international art and writing exchange with a country Australians usually associate with conflict and military involvement. It will serve as a testament to the power of art to connect people across time, space and cultures.
I am seeking funds for the design of the book and to contribute to its production so that I can reduce the cost of purchase. Any funds raised above the costs of publication will be transferred to the OPAWC Vocational Centre through SAWA (Support for Afghan Women–Australia).
While the relationship between Australian and Afghan women through art has been the primary focus of the project, the aim now is for the 43 art objects of this collaboration to be acquired by a public Australian institution. The State Library of Queensland purchased our first project of artists’ books exchanges, with proceeds directed to the Vocational Centre. As an art book, Making Marks will promote this project and reach new audiences, paving a way to acquisition and preservation for public education and appreciation.
Details of the project: http://galiweiss.com/collaboration_handkerchief.html