The photo exhibition CULTURES OF PLEASURE فرهنگ مسروریت و شادی invites you to a multifaceted search for traces through the recent past and present of Afghanistan and illuminates “cultures of joy and vitality” from the perspective of the Afghanistan expert, ethnologist and photographer Max Klimburg and a group of Afghan women, who have recently installed in Vienna, including Nasgol Afshar, Sewida Eyssa Zada, Zarghona Hossaini, Mozhgan Hossinzade, Razia Hossinzade, Masooma Hussaini, Shalma Safi and Zainab Qurbani.
Cultures of pleasure – today hardly to be associated with numerous Islamic countries – traditionally manifest in feasts, singing and dancing, in colorful, vibrant clothing and jewellery, picnicking in flower gardens and in parks, in visits to often richly decorated teahouses, in games, kite flying, animal and other competitions, wrestling, as well as in sensual and uplifting spiritual experiences at Islamic shrines.
All these traditions – associated with an abundance of positive, often passionate emotions of joy, satisfaction and happiness – are currently under heavy pressure after the renewed takeover by the Taliban with their extreme patriarchal-hierarchical and religious concepts. ‘Joie de vivre’ is therefore once again suppressed in Afghanistan by denial, concealment, prohibition and danger.
Some of Max Klimburg’s visual documents from 1956-1961 and early 1970s are presented for the first time. The historical photographies are juxtaposed with those illustrating authentic moods, living spaces and artistic positions of a new generation of Afghan women and civil rights activists in Vienna. Nasgol Afshar, Sewida Eyssa Zada, Zarghona Hossaini, Mozhgan Hossinzade, Razia Hossinzade, Masooma Hussaini, Shalma Safi, Zainab Qurbani open up unexpected views on often contrasting perspectives. The current political situation in Afghanistan means that those modes of vitality, joy and public spheres are increasingly pushed into subversive and digital spaces.