The works shown come from Akbar’s series Invisible Captivity and present a powerful statement on the ways in which patriarchy and socio-religious laws and policies in Afghanistan can “imprison” women, denying them of their rights and freedoms. This sort of captivity can be as traumatic, if not more so, than that which would come with actually being locked behind bars due to its “invisibility” and therefore lack of a tangible, physical barrier to remove. The fingerprints found through several of the works serve as another reminder of the way in which ultra-conservative traditionalism seeks to assert its power over women, as if property to be owned and imprinted upon. The selection further speaks to the way in which women will be able to not only to represent themselves, but in how they will be represented, in an Afghanistan controlled by the Taliban.
Rada Akbar (Kabul, 1988) is an activist, curator, and conceptual artist who uses her creative practice as a medium through which to speak out against misogyny and oppression. Her mixed-media artworks utilize a variety of approaches including wearable monuments, performance, painting, installation, and photography. Akbar’s work has been displayed in numerous exhibitions both in Afghanistan and abroad. In 2015, Akbar won an honorable mention for Photo of the Year with the United Nation’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF).