On April 5th, 2014, the Afghan people were about to choose a new president in watershed elections that marked a new chapter in their country’s history. Later that year, NATO forces were to end their mission, pack up and leave Afghanistan. Job done after more than a decade of military involvement and reconstruction efforts.
But is it as simple as that? What is our legacy in Afghanistan and who will inherit it? Since 9/11 we’ve heard countless politicians, generals, journalists, aid workers and other experts share their opinions. But the voices of ordinary Afghans have hardly been heard.
I Hear You brings you the stories of Afghan people, collected during the tour of the Truth Booth through Afghanistan. The inflatable speech balloon-shaped mobile video-recording studio popped up in four Afghan provinces, at ten different locations. Once set up, the Truth Booth attracted large crowds of enthusiastic Afghans lining up to have their say. Hundreds of Afghan men, women and children expressed their thoughts and opinions. Some statements are analytical, while others are highly personal, angry, moving or funny. Together, they create a varied portrait of the country and its people during a key period of transition.
Travelling Truth Booth consoles
After the collection of stories from Afghanistan, the Truth Booth travelled a variety of Dutch museums and institutions in the shape of a small console. The mobile console displayed the Afghan stories to a variety of audiences: from the Dutch pop temple Melkweg to the Fotomuseum in The Hague.
Seated inside the Truth Booth, visitors were invited to record their own video message and to finish the sentence: “The Truth is…” The goal was to capture as many definitions and interpretations as possible on what the ‘truth’ means to Afghans. Each person recorded their message inside the intimate, confessional space of the Truth Booth, speaking directly into the camera. In the process, they counter the abstract and stereotypes of Afghans. Inside the Truth Booth there are no extremists, victims, or oppressors of women. Instead there are individuals looking the viewer straight in the eye and sharing their personal stories, thoughts, opinions, fears and dreams.
The videos are available on www.ihearyou.me, where visitors can filter by age, gender or topic, as well as share video messages that they find interesting, moving and want others to hear.
Debate at Humanity House on 8 April 2014
On 8 April 2014, a debate around I Hear You took place at Humanity House, museum where the human story behind disasters and conflicts can be experienced.
During this event a selection of video messages, recorded in the Truth Booth, were screened screened. It was followed by a round table discussion between former commandor-in-chief and general Dick Berlijn, Afghan-Canadian author Hamida Ghafour, journalist Antoinette de Jong and several young Afghan-Dutch individuals.
The evening was moderated by journalist Harm Ede Botje.