Afghan Art Project Could Be Casualty of US Pullout

In response, American officials have repeatedly threatened to pull all U.S. troops out of the country – a move referred to as the "Zero Option," effectively leaving the fledgling Afghan army to fight off the Taliban on their own. Should that occur, foreign donors would almost certainly pull their funding from the thousands of development and aid projects that are currently underway. Karzai's own brother recently warned such a move would bring about a complete collapse of Afghanistan's economy.

It's that worst-case scenario that worries Recchia the most. Her exhibition was funded by Turquoise Mountain, an Afghan not-for-profit that provides training and education aimed at reviving traditional Afghan art. If U.S. soldiers leave, so will many foreign donors, leaving Turquoise Mountain to re-examine its project expenditures. So far, it hasn't committed any funding to Recchia's art project for 2014.

In a country where giant development projects can sometimes involve hundreds of millions of dollars in waste, Recchi's project cost peanuts, just $18,000 from start to finish. That includes the $3,000 to rent the gallery space and a $2,500 prize. Despite her low costs, she worries it will be an uphill struggle to get the same amount funding next year

"Working with this little money, and feeling like you have to beg for $200 makes you feel like the poor cousin in a rich family," she says

Despite the tremendous uncertainty, she isn't ready to give up just yet.

"We've got 364 days left to plan," she says, suggesting she'll resort to crowd-funding or try to find a corporate sponsor if all else fails. For her, the project is about more than just art. It's about empowerment and the role it will play in keeping Afghanistan stable, long after foreign troops have left.

"Working with art can be a way to imagine the future in Afghanistan" she says.

"It will change people's lives."

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