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In 2008, Mountain2Mountain launched the Streets of Afghanistan project. After touring the U.S., the exhibit of 29 10×17 photographs now returns to its source.

STREETS OF AFGHANISTAN premiered in the remote village of Istalif, on the Shomali Plain north of Kabul.

Four years ago, I envisioned a collaborative photography exhibition between Afghan photographers and Western photographers that shared a deep affection for this country. Instead of a gallery show, I imagined immersing the viewer in the images, to bring the art off the wall and into the viewer’s world. I wanted to see people’s reaction as they interacted with life-size images and hoped it would change American perspectives of Afghanistan — that if we saw it as a country with a beautiful spirit and culture, we would be more invested from a humanitarian perspective.

Two weeks ago, I saw that vision come full circle as we brought the exhibition to Afghanistan, to Afghans themselves. 28 photographs lined the market streets outside of the mosque on the first day of Eid in the village of Istalif, and the reaction was nothing short of amazing.

“The very creation of art is in itself an act of optimism.”
- Lana Wachowski

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About The Author

Shannon Galpin

Fueled by her own experience with violence against women and inspired by becoming a mother, Shannon Galpin founded Mountain2Mountain, a nonprofit whose mission is to provide education and opportunities to women in conflict zones. An avid mountain biker continually focused on breaking gender barriers, in 2009 she became the first woman to mountain bike in Afghanistan, a country where the culture does not permit women to ride bikes. A TEDx speaker, she has been featured on Dateline NBC, Today Show, Huffington Post, and in Outside Magazine.

  • Jenny Williams

    Powerful and moving. Thank you, Shannon.

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