Bakersfield Online, Jan. 24, 2007
RAWA photo exhibit in California State University, Bakersfield
An exhibit depicting the social unrest in Afghanistan is scheduled for California State University, Bakersfield's Todd Madigan Gallery Jan. 25-March 10.
"Under the Veil: The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan" consists of 28 photographs and was taken by Afghani women who remain anonymous, except by their group name, The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, or RAWA. These women put their lives at risk to take photographs revealing violent crimes committed against humanity between 1992 and 2001 by the Taliban regime.
"Under the Veil" was curated by Tara Farrell of World Pictures Network, New York, with the International Center of Photography, New York, where it was first exhibited in 2002, during the first anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, the terrorist attack on the United States. RAWA was established in 1977 to fight for human rights and social justice because of the violence taking place in Afghanistan, especially the violence against women.
Michael Johnson, director of Todd Madigan Gallery, said the exhibit is expected to raise questions and promote discussion. "As an art gallery director and artist, whose main focus is art rather than politics or international affairs, my thinking is always foregrounding the nature of an art work and how it might influence the shapes of our consciousness or world view," he said.
"I feel the photographs are important, but many might squawk, 'Why would you show us such ugliness in an art gallery of all places?'" Johnson continued. "I'm not so much interested in answering the question directly but giving it a place to air and making available discussion of the issues viewers will have."
Co-sponsor of the display, CSUB's Kegley Institute of Ethics, plans to host a discussion about the exhibit titled "Seeing Out of Distance" consisting of CSUB faculty on Wednesday, Feb. 7, at 7 p.m. in the Albertson Room in the Doré Theatre. "The gallery exhibit is an important reminder of what humans are capable of – both in the committing of atrocities and in the amazing courage of the women who took the photos," said Christopher Meyers, director of the Kegley Institute of Ethics and a CSUB philosophy professor. "The panelists, all experts in related areas, will discuss this, along with important questions about the political nature of art and of the role of museums and galleries."
Panelists include Rachel Bzostek, CSUB political science professor; Stephen Campagna-Pinto, philosophy and religious studies professor; Rebecca Weller, art professor; and Michael Johnson, director of the Todd Madigan Gallery. Meyers will moderate the discussion. For information on the panel, call Meyers at (661) 654-3149.
The Todd Madigan Gallery's exhibit hours are Tuesday through Thursday from 1 to 6 p.m., and Saturdays 1 to 5 p.m. Admission and parking is free. The photographs in this exhibit show human death, suffering and violence. Parents must accompany children under 18 years old. For more information, please call (661) 654-2238 or visit [http://www.csub.edu/art/gallery] www.csub.edu/art/gallery.