Thursday, August 26, 2010

Olympic-size swimming pool

A simplified diagram of the FINA long course swimming pool standard.

For larger volumes of liquid, one measure commonly used in the media in many countries is the Olympic-size swimming pool. A large Olympic swimming pool with dimensions 50 m × 25 m × 2 m (approx 164 ft × 82 ft × 6.6 ft) holds 2.5 million litres – about 2 acre-feet, 660,000 gallons, or 1/200,000 of a sydharb.


Image copyright: Save the Children Federation

The Children of Kabul
Discussions with Afghan Families

"In 2002 Save the Children Federation, Inc. (SC/US), with support from UNICEF, conducted a major consultation with children and their families living in Kabul. "The purpose of the Children of Kabul was not only to provide information and insight, but also to influence development programming for children by basing it on the values and realities of Afghan children and caregivers. NGOs, donors, policy makers, teachers, mullahs, parents and children comprise the context in which children in Kabul live and develop."

Emotional therapeutic washing in the pool.

Photo by Massoud Hosseini

Kabul Matters:
no bombs but art in Afghanistan

Architect and artist Luis Berrios Negron 2006 visit to Kabul enabled by the Aga Kahn Program for Islamic Culture and the Center for Contemporary Art Afghanistan. PingMag, 16 november 2006, Verena

- CCAA article in Nafas art magazine

Suburban Creep

Kabul - Secure City, Public City
A supplement to Volume Magazine #15

Jolyon Leslie in 2008 described the urbanization surrounding the olympic swimming pool as a "capture of public property" by the ruling elite.

Photograph: Joost Janmaat

The Architecture of Fear, George M. Agnew, Friday October 26th 2007

"Here, was a very remarkable sight. Like a piece of sculpture was this solid concrete swimming pool, Olympic in size set in this large dusty plateau." [George M. Agnew, Participant ArchisKabul RSVP event october 2007]

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Another human-interest story?

"Children play around an old Russian pool on a hill overlooking the city of Kabul on January 30, 2010 in Kabul, Afghanistan", LIFE magazine. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

How human interest helped shape Kabul.


Representatives from: 
(in progress)
Faculty of Fine Arts in Kabul
Herat Universities
Center for Visual Art in Herat
Behzad School in Herat
Turquoise Mountain Foundation in Kabul
Center for Contemporary Art Afghanistan in Kabul
Afghan Communicator, New York



This is not an art project. 

While preparing ourselves to dig into the art scene in Afghanistan, we get flooded with messages of another, less cultural but extremely "grounded" type of information. New oil resources have been found in Afghanistan (which gets our brains going, war was wedged on the country, for what reason again?), and the chinese already signed a contract to get it. 
Or to tell the story from a different angle: The Afghans beg the Western world to invest in what they have but can't afford to benefit from without foreign help and the necessary techniques - oil. We believe that where your own economical interests are being advertised as someone else's, the call for cultural diplomacy is not far. Look at Iraq - the city of Baghdad is begging the US right now to create and support a culture center for them in the city center. That is perverse and humiliating. It is like being raped twice but his time with an invitation. 
From the Tages-Anzeiger August 15, 2010: In Afghanistan werden zahlreiche Bodenschätze vermutet, deren Ausbeutung wegen der fehlenden Infrastruktur aber als sehr teuer gilt. Ausserdem behindert die instabile politische Lage die Suche und Förderung der Bodenschätze. Afghanistan verfügt nach Angaben seiner Regierung über Mineralvorräte im Wert von bis zu drei Billionen Dollar (2,4 Billionen Euro). Laut einer Studie der US-Geologiebehörde USGS reichen die Vorräte an Kupfer, Lithium, Eisen, Gold und Kobalt aus, um das kriegszerrüttete Land zu einem weltweit führenden Rohstoff-Exporteur zu machen. Auch die Reserven an Öl und Gas sind demnach weitaus grösser als angenommen.
China im Geschäft
Kabul hat vor einigen Wochen eine internationale Werbekampagne für seine Ressourcen wie Eisenerz, Kupfer und Lithium gestartet, um Investoren ins Land zu locken. Diese sind wegen der hohen Kosten und der mangelnden Sicherheit aber noch sehr zögerlich.
Als erster grosser Interessent ist 2007 China eingestiegen. Die Unternehmen Jiangxi Copper und China Metallurgical Group wollen das riesige Kupfervorkommen Aynak südlich von Kabul ausbeuten.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


We are intrigued with the Olympic swimming pool on top of Tapa Bibi Mahroo in Kabul. The amenity was built by the occupying Soviet forces in the 1980s, who were probably posted on the hill to watch out for Afghan mujahedin. It has never been officially used as a pool, because there was no way that even the Soviets could get water to travel uphill at such a steep angle. In the mid- 1990s the Taliban pushed blindfolded criminal offenders from the highest springboard to test whether they would survive, if not they were sometimes still not freed but shot. Today kids play in the cement construction, men bet on their fighting hens or dogs in it, and every now and then after heavy rain fall one can cool off in it. This site of shabby majesty has never seen much water or collective happiness. We would like to change that by organizing an international pool party. The project aims at putting a group of local and foreign artists, Kabul children, students and other representatives from the city together to clean and paint the pool and find a way to fill it with
water. (Maybe the water problems can be solved, by some Dutch water engineers?) If only for one day the place shall radiate with joy, music and splendor, and then remain as a colorful landmark to inspire new thoughts and creative use for local and international agents equally or collaboratively – be it as a swimming pool or not.

First we need to get in touch with the art and culture scene in Kabul, with the art school and the University, NGOs, municipal officials, construction companies, developers, international foundations, humanitarian aid workers to learn more about this landmark and to find some allies for this international project. Second we would need to go to Afghanistan in order to meet people, get acquainted with the site and figure out the practicalities and possible strategies. Back in Europe, we'd need to find the international collaborators and organize the financial means as well as logistics for this project. Right now Embassies around the world warn their citizens to not go to Afghanistan if not absolutely necessary; an exact schedule for this project can therefore not be given at this point in time. But it sure can be started now, and be assessed later in the year.

The team consists of Pier Taylor, researcher and graphic designer from Holland, and Lillian Fellmann, Swiss curator and journalist. It is possible that we would need to add co-workers later for translation, administration, organization, communication and documentation of this ambitious vision.