When Lana Slezic was sent to the war-afflicted country of Afghanistan in 2004 for an assignment with Canadian Geographic magazine for six weeks, the award-winning Canadian photographer had no idea she would end up staying there for two years. The journalist who was covering the Canadian military role in Kabul, decided to stay in the country and start documenting the plight of Afghan women.
And the results can be seen in the photo exhibition titled Forsaken, that is currently on at Cymroza Art Gallery. Slezic’s camera captures the daily lives of Afghan girls and women and gives us a glimpse into the harsh realities they face on a daily basis. The exhibition will go on till November 30.
For Slezic, this body of work represents a very emotional journey that allowed her to learn about Afghan women’s lives in an intimate setting. “At the worst of times the stories are horrific and, at best, they are consistent. It is my hope that the collection of photographs will communicate, influence and inspire others to learn more about the plight of Afghan women,” she says.
According to her, most Afghan women and girls understand all too well the concept of fear and subservience. “As human beings it is our responsibility to not only see and hear, but to listen and act. Every human being deserves to be treated with respect and dignity,” Slezic believes.
Slezic’s photographs are not just a glimpse into the lives of these women, but also show the human side of the war-ravaged country. The photographer acknowledges that and says, “In the two years I worked and lived there, I knew that no matter what I did or thought or photographed or wrote about, Afghanistan would unfold at its own speed in the hands of its own people. Many would suffer in that process, especially women.”
Staying there might have been difficult, no doubt, but for Slezic, it was a humbling and beautiful experience. “The Afghan people are the most amazingly generous, warm, loving, open people, especially the women. There was never even once any animosity. I was always welcomed into their houses. They would always try to give me more than they ever had. They have made me a better human being in the two years I lived there,” she says. Slezic also maintains a strong connection with India, where she has lived and worked on several projects.