Dear Queens, New York City and beyond,

The United States has pulled out of Afghanistan and the Taliban has swiftly taken control over all the country’s key cities, including the capital, Kabul. Many Afghans are trying to flee the country to save their lives, as the Taliban regime threatens many who stand for one of the same ideals we do: freedom of expression.

Social Practice Queens has chosen to close their exhibition Art as Social Action with an Action for Arts for Afghanistan. It is imperative that we stand in solidarity with Afghans and ensure they are protected. Spearheaded by SPQ students and alumni, a letter-writing station will be launched on Sun, Aug 29th in gallery 5 of the Queens Museum. We invite you to write and sign postcards to Congress to urge the administration to make swift efforts: to protect vulnerable Afghans and their freedom of speech, to expedite visas for Afghans immediately, and to provide asylum. With this action, and with your support, we stand in solidarity with our peers in Afghanistan.

We are sending these cards in order to hold the United States accountable, and to protect at-risk allies, including those devoted to free expression and truth telling. We also invite you to sign an open letter that calls for the immediate evacuation and asylum for Afghan cultural workers. You can read here and sign it here.

Like Afghan journalists, activists, and citizens who have assisted the US over the past twenty years, cultural workers face threats to their lives because of the work they’ve done—and they are unlikely to get out of the country without immediate changes to Washington’s approach to granting visas and providing flights.

Filmmaker Mariam Ghani explained that “We are desperately worried for our friends, colleagues, and peers in Afghanistan, and we do not want them to be forgotten. We were deeply troubled by the omission of artists and cultural workers from the State Department categories of at-risk Afghans prioritized for evacuation, despite the Taliban's long and well-known history of targeting art, artists, and cultural heritage.” Artist Farrah Karapetian added, “Creative networks have historically stood together beyond borders to support free expression and safe harbor of at-risk individuals in times of crisis. We don’t just incidentally work together on projects far afield; we sustain and believe in one another’s life’s work because we sustain and believe in one another’s lives and indeed humanity. We recognise the agency, power, visibility, and vulnerability of our creative community in Afghanistan and urge our governments to do the same.”

Please join us to make your voices heard. The need for expedited visas and adequate asylum is urgent. We thank you for signing, and for sharing this message widely with your networks.


Social Practice Queens/Art as Social Action