On Thursday 11 August from 7-10pm Void will screen the film Osama (2003) by Siddiq Barmak.


Presented as part of Void’s Public Programme for current exhibition Above Us the Milky Way (25.06-27.08.22) featuring the work by artists Orna Kazimi, Kubra Khademi, Mario García Torres and Erkan Özgen.


The films have been co-curated by AVAH collective and filmmaker Parwana Haydar. The films chosen represent three different entry points into Afghan Visual Culture that affect our conversation on collective memory and consciousness as art workers that have biographical ties with Afghanistan.


This event is free but booking is essential.




A 12-year-old girl, her mother, and a boy (spandi) have survived the repressed demonstrations launched by Afghan women at the beginning of the Taliban regime. The girl and her mother work in a hospital and soon become aware that the Taliban have dismissed all the people working there and have closed the gate.

The Taliban make sure that no women can get out of their houses without a legal companion (without any member of their family). If they do so they will be punished.

To support the family, the girl’s mother, who has lost her job, decides together with the girl’s grandmother to change the appearance of the girl in order to look like a boy. This decision terrifies the girl. She is afraid of what will happen in the Taliban finds out that she is a girl.

To get a job, the mother and the girl go to the milkman who was an old friend of the girl’s slain father.

The next adventures begin from here…

The religious police of the Taliban force the people to go to the mosque for noon prayer. The girl who is still not familiar with these regulations makes mistakes during prayer session, which then causes a Taliban to become suspicious.

On the next day all the boys, including the girl (looking like a boy) are taken to the religious school called Madrassa, which is also the centre for military training by the Taliban. After some adventures the Taliban discovers the real face of the girl. The girl is put in jail. The Taliban’s judicial court, which advocates stoning and execution, force the girl to marry an old Mullah. After they are married the girl discovers that she is the Mullah’s fourth wife…


Directing, Editing, Script: Siddiq Barmak



Siddiq Barmak – Biography


Siddiq Barmak was born in Afghanistan in 1962. He earned an MA in cinema from the VGIK institute in Moscow. His debut feature, Osama (2003), was awarded at many prestige Festivals like Cannes, Busan, London and was named as best foreign-language film at the Golden Globe Awards (2004). His second film, Opium War (2008), was named Best Film at the Rome Film Festival, Batumi IFF 2012 and many other film festivals around the world.




The Wall, short movie, (1984)

The Circle, short movie, (1985)

Stranger, short movie, (1987)

Osama, feature movie 84 min ( 2003)

Opium War, feature movie 91 min, (2008)


Documentary films:

The disaster of withering, (1988)

Narration of Victory, (1991)

Invasion File, (1997)


As a producer:

Sacrifice (2002)

Earth and Ashes (feature film , France , Afghanistan 2004) Delight, short film 2009

An Apple from Paradise, feature film, ( 2009)

The Neighbour, feature film, (2010)


Above Us the Milky Way


The title of the exhibition is taken from a novel by Fowzin Karimi that explores the complexities and the impact of war through memories, loss and notions of home.


Many who are forced into exile face forced migration, and the burden of carrying the past into the present and future. The legacy of war, the repression of minorities and women, and the trauma that seeps through the generations forms the focal point of this exhibition.


The effect of war on women is prevalent in parts of the Middle East especially in the past year, most significant is the transformation of Afghan society in terms of girls’ access to education and women losing basic human rights and limits to their freedom. Women and girls suffer disproportionately during and after war, as existing inequalities are magnified and social networks break down, making them more vulnerable to sexual violence and exploitation.


Displacement due to war and conflict has significant implications on people’s sense of place and culture. This dislocation is passed through generations. Postwar, returning generations reach a location that only exists in their imaginations and through the stories of their parents or ancestors what remains is often just a memory and a decimated landscape. This question of how do we change this trajectory, imagining a new way forward that attunes to a more equitable way of being and breaking the repetition of the cycle of history is something that we need to address and is as urgent now as it has been throughout the history of war and conflict.


AVAH Collective


AVAH Collective is an independent and global research collective and multimedia platform with contributing artists, art historians, curators, art world professionals, writers, and creatives covering Afghan Visual Culture, inclusive of its diaspora and minorities. AVAH contributors engage critically with Afghanistan-related and Afghan-diasporic themes at the nexus of mainly visual culture and contemporary art. The collective came together upon recognising a lack of obtainable information and long term initiatives concerning the historical and contemporary practices originating in or relating to Afghanistan.


Parwana Haydar


Parwana Haydar is an early career filmmaker who centers memory, family and collectivity in her practice. Her interest in how political organising merges with art started when she organised in Kin Collective – a film collective for racialised creatives. She is now Activities and Events co-president in the Student Union at SOAS and a student in Other Cinema film school.




Void Gallery is supported by Arts Council Northern Ireland, Derry City and Strabane District Council, Halifax Foundation, The Ragdoll Foundation, The Ireland Funds, Austin and Hope Pilkington Foundation, and Arnold Clarke Foundation.