School of Visual Arts (SVA) presents First Light: Teaching Photography in Kabul, an exhibition of the first Afghan students to learn basic photography and darkroom techniques since the fall of the Taliban. The exhibition is a unique opportunity to see Afghan society through Afghan eyes, as the country seeks to rebuild its infrastructure and assert its identity. The exhibition brings together thephotographs of over 25 Afghan men and women from Kabul University, taught by Afghan-American and SVA alumnus Masood Kamandy, who is also curator of this exhibition.
In 2002, Kamandy, then a photography student at SVA, visited Afghanistan to discover his homeland for the first time and investigate the state of photographic education at Kabul University. With the help of Stephen Frailey, chair of SVA’s BFA Photography Department, Kamandy decided to embark on an ambitious plan to build all new darkroom facilities and develop a comprehensive curriculum based on the SVA model. He explains the impetus for this project: “Photography has given me a way to interpret my world and the opportunity to experience my heritage in a way that no other profession could have. We now have the chance to educate Afghan artists to photograph the world they live in with a critical eye. This is key to social progress and a way to heal after so many years of war.”