Kafkanistan explores the world of present-day travel and tourism to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran. It is an image of that world based on actual experiences into the areas.
". . . it all started with an email sent to me by Sean Foley asking if I wanted to join him [in] exploring the world of tourism in conflict zones around Pakistan and Afghanistan . . . Our first four week trip turned into a three year project resulting [in] a book, three films and a touring multimedia exhibition."
In 2005, a visual artist and an anthropologist teamed up for an unusual journey. They spent many months travelling through Afghanistan and neighbouring countries trying to understand and document the thrills and pleasures of recreational travel in conflict zones. The result is a fascinating, funny, and idiosyncratic art book that offers a unique insight into this growing tourist phenomenon. Kafkanistan is best viewed as a kind of road book, following the standard plot of a journey in which the heroes meet and confront a variety of obstacles and challenges. Throughout the book we see the two protagonists, Kartunwallah and Smileywallah, dressed as locals attempting to integrate themselves into the local culture and reconcile their own preconceptions to the actual experiences of the people and the country.
The result, though often extremely funny, not only offers a rare insight into the everyday culture and customs in and around Afghanistan, but also identifies some of the absurdities that have arisen since the infiltration of Western tourism into this area of conflict.
About the Author:
Lukas Birk is an Austrian born multimedia artist, explorer and organizer. He was educated in Austria and the UK. A former journalist for Austrian and German media, he worked as a news correspondent and photographer in his late teens and early twenties. After extensive travels in India and South-East Asia, he decided to study art at LCMM in London, where he complete a BA in digital arts and photography. Birk has been a traveler for the last ten years, focusing heavily on East Asia and the Middle East. His experiences traveling in Afghanistan, the Gobi desert, India, and more are all interwoven in his work. He currently lives in both China and Indonesia and continues to travel for at least four months a year. Several publications are planned for the next years, including a coffee table book of his Polaroids from the Middle Kingdom series and the Afghan Box Camera Project.