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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 August 2005, 10:19 GMT 11:19 UK
Artist to recreate Afghan Buddhas
The Buddhas statues of Bamiyan, destroyed in 2001
The Buddhas were one of Afghanistan's great treasures
Afghanistan's famous Bamiyan Buddhas are due to be recreated by multicoloured laser images projected onto the cliffs where they once stood.

The 1,600-year-old statues, which stood on the Silk Road in the Bamiyan Valley, were destroyed by the Taleban in 2001.

Artist Hiro Yamagata will use solar and wind power to project a series of images onto four miles of clay cliffs.

Afghan government officials, who approached the Japanese artist in 2003, are awaiting approval from Unesco.

Fourteen laser systems would project 140 faceless images, standing up to 175ft (52.5m) tall, onto the cliff-face for four hours every Sunday night.

I'm doing a fine art piece. That's my purpose - not for human rights, or for supporting religion or a political statement
Hiro Yamagata

United Nations cultural organisation Unesco must assess whether the laser beams could damage the cliffs.

"If there is a way to do it so there is no environmental impact, we would support it as it would boost tourism," said Habiba Sarobi, governor of the Bamiyan province.

"The images would remind us of what (the Buddhas) once looked like."

Yamagata estimated the project would cost $9m (5m) and that it would be completed by June 2007.

Hiro Yamagata
Yamagata's works recently featured at Bilbao's Guggenheim museum

The California-based artist, who visited Bamiyan in 2003, hoped his artwork would give something back to the war-torn region by using the imported windmills to provide power for surrounding villages.

He also planned to employ local workers to build the foundations for the windmills.

"Many people say, 'My art will heal the people,'" said Yamagata. "Of course I help people, but it's more about not harming people."

"I'm doing a fine art piece. That's my purpose - not for human rights, or for supporting religion or a political statement."

Zahir Aziz, Afghan ambassador to Unesco, confirmed that an earlier Swiss plan to rebuild the Buddhas at the cost of $30m (16.8m) per statue had been discarded.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See how the laser images would look




SEE ALSO:
Talks over Bamiyan Buddhas' future
21 Nov 02 |  South Asia
The hunt for Bamiyan's third Buddha
06 Sep 02 |  South Asia
Sculptor to rebuild Bamiyan Buddha
10 Apr 02 |  South Asia


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