Shamsia Hassani is an Afghan artist that uses graffiti to claim for women’s rights and freedom in a country where war hasn’t left any room for them.
Using art as a means to protest in a country like Afghanistan is no easy task. Even less if you’re a woman. But this 29-old Afghan has set her mind to break molds and has become the first woman that, painting with her own hands, transforms Kabul buildings devastated by war in authentic works of art.
Shamsia was born in Teheran (Iran) in a family of Afghan immigrants. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts at the Kabul University and after that, she decided her mission will be offering her art for free. Shamsia’s leitmotiv is “art is better than war”, a review of “make love and not war” in a 21st century version.
“art is better than war”, a review of “make love and not war”
This young woman talked to Sputnik blog about the challenge that was for her to find people that shared her ideas in a territory where keeping distance from the mass and speaking up can be very dangerous.
“Some people accused me of only staining the walls with my drawings. Others blamed me for only making art with graffiti because that has nothing to do with Islam”
But Shamsia continued to decorate the capital of Afghanistan with her ideas to remind people the disaster caused by foreign interests during war and the silence and impotence of authorities to stop bloodshed and ending Afghan people’s misery.
“At first I was the only one drawing graffiti but now in Afghanistan there are several more artists that I keep contact with”.
Shamsia’s art has crossed frontiers and not only through social networks. Images of her graffiti have been displayed in several exhibitions and the embassies of India, Iran, Germany and Italy.
One idea Shamsia wants to claim through art is women situation in her country and the few rights they enjoy.
“Many people think that wearing or not the burka is the only problem of Afghan women. But the real issue is the access to education. This is the main problem. We need to focus our efforts in real problems. Of course it is difficult for me to change people’s minds by myself, but I think at least I’m doing a little to improve Afghan women’s situation”, she says.
Another difficulty Shamsia has to face is that she needs to plan her drawings in advance, down to the smallest detail, because it is important not to be a second longer than necessary in the site where she’s drawing.
“Working on the sketches takes me two to three months. Sometimes I can’t go to a specific neighborhood for security reasons and because people themselves prevents me to”.
Despite all things she has against, Samsia doesn’t even consider to give up. As long as there is hope for Afghanistan waters to return to their riverbed and for women to recover their rights, she will continue to fight, Shamsia expresses.
“Surely I could even be imprisoned. Kabul is very dangerous for those of us that draw graffiti, but none of that frightens me”.