The First Female Street Artist in Afghanistan Spreads Beauty & Feminism
A daughter to Afghanistan parents, Iranian-born street artist Shamsia Hassani is the first prominent female street artist in Afghanistan. Challenging gender norms and cultural expectations, Hassani aims to design murals, which inspire beauty and heal years of scars in a war-driven country. Although Hassani encounters sexist beliefs and discouragement due to her gender, she aims to deliver a different perspective on what it means to be a Muslim woman in Afghanistan. Depicting her subjects in colorful and multi-interpretive scenarios Hassani assigns them strength through sharply composed bodies, as oppose to giving each female model a dainty and delicate figure. She says:
“In my artwork, there is lots of movement. I want to show that women have returned to Afghan society with a new, stronger shape. It’s not the woman who stays at home. It’s a new woman. A woman who is full of energy, who wants to start again. You can see that in my artwork, I want to change the shape of women. I am painting them larger than life. I want to say that people look at them differently now.”
As Afghanistan’s first female street artist Hassani encounters many difficulties. She is not able to go out in the streets and create due to sexist beliefs. Due to security issues, the artist composes digital graffitis, which she calls “dreaming graffiti. She uses graphic drawings as her cityscape to create wild and imaginative illustrations. In regards to her limited activity, Hassani confesses:
“Usually I am painting women with burqas in modernism shape on walls, I want to talk about their life, to find some way to remove them from darkness, to open their mind, to bring some positive changes, trying to remove all bad memories of war from everybody’s mind with covering sad city’s walls with happy colors.”
Overall Hassani believes wearing a burqa is not a suppressive device. Her focus is on the education of woman on an academic and cultural level to embrace their identity. Although she’s restricted to head to the streets of Kabul as a street artist, the street art movement is a progressive journey in Afghanistan. Since there are few art galleries, the barren and dusty walls supply potential artists with inspirational and ample canvases. To promote talent and inspiration, Hassani also Hassani also teaches graffiti at the University of Kabul, where she aims to spread the significance of peace and growth.
h/t: Huffington Post.