“It is not simple to work with an archive in a country like Afghanistan, where books, films, and monuments are all subject to burning; stupas are looted and statues shattered; and sites sacred for one reason or another are eroded by both natural and human disasters. Understandably, Afghans are wary of anyone who proposes to ‘mine’ any cultural resource they still possess.
“If you want to work with an Afghan archive, therefore, you cannot address your desires to it directly. You must sidle up to it sideways, as if approaching a horse with an uncertain temper. You must turn up your palms and turn out your pockets to demonstrate the purity of your motives. You must persuade it to yield its secrets, slowly and obliquely. Above all, you must try to understand what the archive desires of you. You cannot hope to extract anything from the archive without giving something back.” – director Mariam Ghani, Field Notes for What We Left Unfinished