Afghanistan’s age of conflict caught in photos

In this photo from May 1988, an Afghan soldier hands a flag to a departing Soviet soldier in Kabul during the first day of the Russian Army's withdrawal from the country. Photo courtesy Robert Nickelsberg
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Visitors to Queensborough Community College’s art gallery will soon be able to get an up-close look at the destruction and devastation that the last quarter of a century has brought to Afghanistan.

Through Sept. 10, about 100 of photographer Robert Nickelsberg’s works from his book, “Afghanistan: A Distant War,” will be on display.

“It’s important for people to see this exhibit, particularly because it documents the period prior to 9/11,” said Nickelsberg, who pointed out that those were the years that followed the Soviet Union’s withdrawal from Aghanistan when the Marxist regime it supported fell in 1989. “9/11 didn’t just happen with a flip of a switch and I watched it evolve. We’ve forgotten the past since 9/11 .”

President Barack Obama’s recent announcement about the gradual withdrawal of all U.S. soldiers stationed in Afghanistan provided Nickelsberg with the inspiration to organize the QCC show.

“I hope it [the exhibit] inspires them [students] to go back and study the history of the region prior to 9/11,” he said.

The show includes about 100 color photographs captured during Nickelsberg’s visits to the war-torn country, particularly the suffering that everyday Afghans have experienced.

“This work provides a crossover between departments and disciplines, the importance of history and the importance of taking stock, of keeping a record,” said Nickelsberg.

Nickelsberg spent 25 years in South Asia and started documenting Afghanistan in 1988 when he joined a group of Mujahedeen crossing the border from Pakistan during the war with the Soviet Union.

He has worked as a Time Magazine contract photographer for about 30 years, which is one of the many publications that presented his work.

Nickelsberg went through many tough times during when he was shooting photos in Afghanistan. From intense heat to intense cold and not being able to receive information or find film-processing locations, it was a struggle for him.

“I hope everyone in the region can come and see it,” said Nickelsberg. “We forgot what happened prior to 9/11 and we shouldn’t do that.”

If You go

Afghanistan: A Distant War

When: Through Sept. 10

Where: Queensborough Community College Art Gallery, 222-05 56th Ave., Oakland Gardens

Contact: (718) 631-6396

Posted 12:00 am, June 23, 2014
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Reader feedback

worst thing from Queens says:
One of the worst decisions that the US has made was to back the war lords instead of Russia. Had we backed Russian there would have been no Bin Laden. So stupid, give any nit wit a gun.
June 23, 2014, 10:53 am

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