Portrait of a City

An intimate view of Kabul’s arts scene

View Gallery

OVER THE LAST THREE DECADES, Afghanistan has been visually over-represented. Cast against a striking landscape, images of war, poverty and inequality in the country have filled the pages of international newspapers and magazines. In 2011, Lorenzo Tugnoli, a freelance photojournalist, and I, an independent researcher and writer, started working together, looking for an unexplored narrative space within Afghanistan. The result of this collaboration is The Little Book of Kabul: a book that depicts a portrait of Kabul through the daily activities of artists who live and work in the city.

The Little Book of Kabul was released in 2014, in a limited-edition print run of 500 signed copies. The research and production for it was partly supported by a crowd-funding campaign. We self-published the book to guarantee our full autonomy in its content and aesthetics.

Through 20 short stories and 47 photographs, The Little Book of Kabul provides a close-up view into the lives of three protagonists: Kabul Dreams, an indie-rock band; Rahim Walizada, an interior and carpet designer; and the Center for Contemporary Arts Afghanistan, or CCAA, a contemporary arts school. Around these central figures move other characters, including visual artists, musicians, poets of the Pashto Poetry Society and actors of the Afghanistan National Theater.

Lorenzo Tugnoli is a photographer based in Beirut

Francesca Recchia is an independent researcher and writer.

Keywords: photography war Kabul Afghanistan journalism arts photo