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Return, Afghanistan: Photographs by Zalmai


Opening: March 16, 2006, 6-9 pm

With traditional Afghan dance, food and music

Official Remarks by Ambassador Omar Samad, Afghanistan Ambassador to Canada at 7 pm

Rubab and tabla performance by Yasser Karimzad, James Kippen and Atiq Nikzad

Free bus departs 401 Richmond Street West at 6:30 pm and returns from UTSC at 9 pm

Contemporary Art Bus Tour: April 30, 2006

Free bus departs the Textile Museum of Canada (55 Centre Ave.) at 1 pm to Art Gallery of York University, Koffler Gallery and Doris McCarthy Gallery UTSC - come early and catch a tour of the TMC's exhibition Terrible Beauty at 12:15 pm. To reserve a seat, contact AGYU at 416.736.5169.

Return, Afghanistan is the result of Zalmaï’s return to his native Afghanistan under the auspices of the United Nations Commissioner for Refugees. We are presented with a body of work that is a dramatic personal account of the beginnings of reconstruction in a country still threatened by factional violence, poverty and the resurgence of the Taliban. In the accompanying text, Zalmaï writes, “I travelled all over the country, from north to south, through the center. The country was completely destroyed, and daily life had been reduced to the extreme limits of a survival level. And yet, throughout my journeys and encounters, I sensed an incredible life force that had survived despite everything – and still endured. I felt that finally, after such long time, there was hope again. I felt that the colors were returning and that they would be those of peaceful Afghanistan. And so I set out to find this hope, with—for the first time—colour film in my camera.”

For over a quarter of a century, Afghanistan has been devastated by war, drought and famine. In this powerful body of work, Zalmaï documents the relationship between the march of international politics and the daily struggles of life in Afghanistan. He captures the breathtaking landscapes of the plains and mountains, but juxtaposes such grand panoramas with scenes in markets, schools and the tents where people are caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday living. His personal affiliation with the subject matter can be seen in the cohesive and sincere reflection portrayed by his photographs.

Zalmaï fled his native Afghanistan at the age of fifteen with the first wave of 600,000 people displaced by war in 1980. He then became a Swiss citizen. He works for such prestigious publications as the New York Times, Time & Newsweek. His work as a photographer is represented in numerous private and public collections, among them the Musee de L’Elysee, Historic Museum of Nyon and Foundation for Contemporary Photography in Switzerland.

Return, Afghanistan is circulated by Aperture Foundation. Thanks to the Afghan Student Body at UTSC for their help in organizing the opening reception.

Musician Biographies

Yasser Karimzad is a third year student at UTSC, enrolled in the Human Biology specialist program. He fell in love with the sound of rubab about 5 years ago, but only was able to start learning it about 3 years ago. He is currently a student of Atiq Nikzad. He has done many performances, most notably CNE's multicultural event (2005) and at the Afghan Youth Radio anniversary show (2005).

Professor James Kippen teaches Ethnomusicology at the University of Toronto, and specializes in the music and culture of northern India. He has studied tabla drumming for 30 years, and since 1981 has been a disciple of the great Ustad Afaq Hussain Khan (1930-90) of Lucknow and, latterly, his son Ilmas Hussain. Kippen’s research has led to many publications, including two books: The Tabla of Lucknow: A Cultural Analysis of a Musical Tradition (Cambridge, 1988) and Gurudev’s Drumming Legacy (Ashgate, 2006). He has performed in Asia, Europe and North America as both a soloist and accompanist.

Atiq Nikzad learned to play the Rubab, one of Afghanistan’s most esteemed musical instruments, almost 30 years ago as a university student in Kabul. His teacher is the renowned “King of the Rubab”, Ustad Mohammed Umar. Ustad Mohamed Umar, accompanied by the great Tabla player Ustad Zakir Hussain, introduced the Rubab to the western music scene in 1979 in a concert performed at the University of Seattle. After Ustad Umar’s death, Mr. Nikzad continued learning Rubab and Saroud from Ustad Rohnawaz. Mr. Nikzad, although not a musician by profession, has played in many arenas and with diverse audiences for the past 30 years. He has also played the accompanying music for the CBC documentary “Return to Kandahar”. Another great achievement to note is that of him adding a 4th string to the Rubab, allowing for a greater range of notes to be played, a change Rubab players have truly appreciated. This change has been accepted by many Ustads of Hindustani music as well. At the moment, he teaches Rubab to many students in Toronto, and plans to produce his first album in the coming future.

Generously supported by Manulife Financial ~ Pillar Sponsor of Great Communities.


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