Derek Eland Installs Afghanistan 'Diary Rooms' To Captures Soldiers' Stories

For those on the front line of the war in Afghanistan, the triviality of reality TV must be the last thing on their minds. But when artist Derek Eland took a series of Big Brother-style Diary Rooms to them for a month, determined to capture the innermost thoughts of those involved with the conflict, the response he got was staggering.

Civilians and soldiers from both the Western and Afghan sides were invited by Eland to enter the space and write down their stories on coloured postcards, revealing the experience of life in a war zone.

Wanting to create an art which was "engaging, immediate, raw and above all honest", these narratives and photographs paint a picture of Afghanistan different to that we hear about on the news.

Speaking to HuffPost UK over email, Eland explained his motivations behind the project: "I wasn’t interested in seeing things in Afghanistan and then creating artworks back in my studio in the UK."

"I was driven by the desire to create a unique self-portrait of what it is like to 'be human' in this extraordinary place."

The results are are hundreds of stories collected from those involved at the front, some of whom went on to be killed or injured. Incredibly poignant, these postcards portray parts of a lifestyle that can be both "remarkable and mundane, extraordinary and everyday."

One of the hundreds of postcards from the project

The postcards are now part of an exhibition in Bournemouth, but Eland has started a blog called where a scanned copy of one of the Afghan stories will be posted each day for a year.

Diary Rooms is on now at the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum until March 2013.

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