Twenty Years of the Afghan war

I’m excited to announce the launch of Twenty Years, a project more than two years in the making:

Twenty Years is an artistic and journalistic project to assess the legacy of the post 9/11, US-led war in Afghanistan.

Originally conceived in 2019 by journalist, author and film-maker Antony Loewenstein and artist Tia Kass alongside Afghans in Australia, Afghanistan and the Diaspora, Twenty Years is a multi-platform examination of the war and its aftermath after 20 years of conflict. We focus on the role played by Australia and other Western powers in invading and occupying Afghanistan and the consequences of these actions on Islamophobia and media coverage.

Featuring video, audio, portraits, text, photography, journalism, public events and art exhibition, the project aims to interrogate the reasons behind the conflict, who lost and gained, the impact on Afghan civilians and the legacy of the longest war in US history after the Taliban takeover in August 2021.

A key aim of Twenty Years is centering Afghan voices and their stories which are routinely ignored in the mainstream media in favour of pro-war pundits, military generals and politicians. By working with Afghan civilians, refugees, activists, artists and advocates, the project will show an Afghanistan that rarely breaks into the public consciousness.

Phase one of the project launches in October 2021 with public events featuring Afghans in Australia and globally discussing the war and new artwork and journalism on civilians affected by the conflict.

Phase two launches in 2022 with an exhibition of Afghan artists in Australia, Afghanistan and the Diaspora at Blacktown Arts gallery in Sydney, Australia. The featured artists are Khadim Ali, Elyas Alavi, Orna Kazimi and Najiba Noori, Tia Kass and Antony Loewenstein. Alongside the exhibition will be a program of public events to discuss the Afghan war.

The project has been a challenging enterprise, even more so since the Taliban takeover in August, and experienced issues around Covid, trauma and logistics. But I’m proud to be part of an idea that tackles one of the most misguided and criminal wars of the 21st century.

Twenty Years has been getting some media coverage including The Guardian, ABC Radio National Sunday Extra, SBS Radio Dari¬†with Elyas Alavi, SBS Radio Dari with Taqi Khan,¬†The Saturday Paper, Melbourne’s Triple R radio and UTS Central News.

Here’s the beautiful project website where you can explore the ideas behind the initiative, view Tia’s amazing portraits, see photos from my 2012 and 2015 trips to Afghanistan and get information about the various Afghan artists.