Artistic Freedom Monitor: Afghanistan

“Artistic Exodus: Afghan Artists Fleeing Taliban Rule” 

In August 2021, the world watched in dismay as the Taliban regained control of Afghanistan following the departure of American security forces. Fearing the violent and repressive nature of the Taliban regime, hundreds of thousands of Afghans immediately attempted to flee the country. The threat of persecution was particularly acute for one group of Afghans: artists and cultural workers. 

Created in partnership with UC Berkeley School of Law, “Artistic Exodus” highlights the ongoing risks that Afghan artists and cultural workers face in Afghanistan and exposes the serious systemic problems facing refugee artists during migration and resettlement in host countries.

“Artistic Exodus” denounces the disenfranchisement and abuse of Afghan artists by the Taliban regime, draws renewed international attention to the support needs of Afghan artists at risk, offers critical analysis of the legal constraints on Afghan artists’ mobility, and identifies areas where Afghan artists experiencing forced migration and resettlement can be better supported by host governments, international organizations, NGOs, and arts institutions

“Artistic Exodus” is made possible with support from the SDK Foundation for Human Dignity and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

AFI is pleased to feature the work of Afghan visual artist Jahan Ara Rafi throughout Artistic Exodus. Her five paintings, featured at the close of the main chapters of Artistic Exodus, speak to some of the key themes of our research: censorship, suppression, and forced migration. Read more about Jahan and her work here.