Shamsia Hassani

© Wendy Marijnissen

This post is about a wonderful, young contemporary artist I met in Kabul. Shamsia Hassani. The first female graffiti artist of the country, member of the art collective Roshd and drawing/sculpture teacher at the Kabul University. Talk about a busy and creative woman.

Shamsia participated in a week-long workshop by British graffiti artist Chu in 2010 and has a love for this art form ever since.  The streets of Afghanistan are not safe for a girl to wander. Shamsia is limited to spray her work in abandoned industrial spaces, on private walls of restaurants, art galleries and has since developed a digital way to continue developing her vision. She takes photographs of walls and spaces that she likes during the day and then digitally adds her graffiti to it on her computer.

Still very much a conservative and traditional society, it’s not common for women to venture out on the streets by themselves. Sadly, a lot of the women that do go out on the streets alone, face various forms of street harassment .

© Wendy Marijnissen

A lot of her work features women in bright blue burqa’s. But the female figures are represented in a much more feminine way. She uses the image to talk about women’s rights and the problems women in Afghanistan face. She changes the shape from sad to happy, because she feels women’s lives can also change for the better.

© Wendy Marijnissen

© Wendy Marijnissen

“For me art has lots of meaning. It’s like a kind of writing of my special alphabet of my inside. Every artist is like a country, every artist has a different kind of language, different rules. When one country writes something, people from another country can’t read it. They need translation. For example my alphabet are  like the fish, the bubbles, the women in burqa, some colors that I always like to use. These elements are like my alphabet that I’m speaking and writing with… This way I can speak with my inside language.”  Shamsia Hassani

Lastly, check out the wonderful video of Shamsia on the project website of Kabul a city at work, an incredible multi-media project, led by a joint international and Afghan crew collecting interviews, photographic portraits and video shorts of the people of Kabul in their working environments.

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