Resilience: Yet Here We Are

boiling mantou, 2006, Kabul

Resilience: Yet Here We Are

Glimpses into Afghan lives after the fall of the Taliban, 2003-2006

Flavia Abdurahman and Gabor Dunajszky

Opening 6pm Friday 26 August 2022

26 August – 9 October 2022

Register to attend the artist talk, 3 September 2022

What is resilience? How do people try to lead normal lives amidst the chaos of conflict? These photographs and videos by Flavia Abdurahman and Gabor Dunajszky document moments in time for Afghans after the fall of the Taliban.

The recent re-occupation of Afghanistan by the Taliban makes these images cherished memories of a time when the country was trying to recover, rebuild and reimagine its future. During this brief period, 2003 to 2006, Afghanistan tried to re-create itself as a viable democracy. Its new Constitution protected women’s rights. It was moving from tribal militia to a national Army and National Police Force and navigating its way with international humanitarian and civil-military actors.

In late January 2022, the Taliban closed down the Ministry of Women’s Affairs. They have shut down most girls’ secondary schools and have forbidden women to work. They have ordered women into permanent lockdown and, on the rare occasion that they venture out, they must wear a burqa and must be accompanied by a male relative. 

Some of the video work in “Resilience” features Flavia’s footage from her time filming for the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, 2005-6, and her footage of Afghan women and girls, 2003-6, as only a female Video Journalist could. We thank Jaguar Jonze for allowing us to use her music for this selection.

The content in this exhibition is mostly family-friendly – humble and rare glimpses, some now forbidden, into the tireless and resourceful efforts of ordinary people to return decency to their families and communities, in the face of the complex challenges. Resilience deserves respect.

About Flavia Abdurahman

Flavia Abdurahman, at the time of taking her footage in Afghanistan, was an independent video journalist, specialising in short documentaries and current affairs, including field research, camera and script. Her clients included the UN Mission to Afghanistan’s Public Information Office, the Afghan Ministry of Women’s Affairs, GIZ (the German equivalent of Australia’s former AusAid), Channel NewsAsia, ABC TV’s “Asia Pacific Focus” and SBS TV’s “Dateline”.

Before Afghanistan, her work took her to India (2002 & 1996), her native South Africa (1993 & 1994) – First Democratic Elections, Mozambique (1993 & 1994) – First Democratic Elections, China & Thailand (1992), & Australia (1990-1996). Since 2006, she has worked in Austria (Al Jazeera Videoblog) & Uganda (GIZ).

From Flavia: I would like to thank Patricia Garcia AO for introducing me to Afghanistan, its international humanitarian sector and its people.

I would like to acknowledge SBS TV Australia and thank all the people I worked with & the long-standing contacts I made during my time in the SBS Camera Room. The stories we filmed, pre-1996, about Australian indigenous empowerment and human rights inspired and honed my career focus. Like Afghanistan and my native South Africa, sovereignty was never ceded.

About Gabor Dunajszky

The photographs were created by Gabor Dunajszky, a well-experienced humanitarian aid worker. His work included missions with various international assistance agencies in the former Yugoslavia, the Russian Federation (northern Caucasus), Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bam, Iran and East Africa (Kenya and Uganda) to name a few. He first worked in Afghanistan in 2001 shortly after the fall of the Taliban.

From Gabor, about his photos: These images were recorded in locations and communities where the residents – despite the fact, that their “normal” living conditions no longer existed (due to earthquakes, war zones, and the like) – retained their humanity and carried on their everyday life under very difficult conditions, relying on their resilience, good humour and belief in a better future.