Afghanistan’s First Female Street Artist Brings Burqas And Feminism To City Walls

A woman in a purple hijab sits playing the piano, a tear rolling down her cheek. She plays her solitary tune amongst a sea of blue skyscrapers, soaring above the cars that zoom beneath her unnoticed. This subject already wears her contradictions proudly – she is strong, she is vulnerable, she is graceful, creative, separate, sad. And yet, at least it seems, she calls out to no one, content to sit with her feelings and express herself creatively, freely, in peace.

Shamsia Hassani is the street art queen we’ve been waiting for.


Top: A graffiti piece by Shamsia Hassani and Qasem Foushanji on a wall in Kabul, March 5, 2012.

Bottom: Shamsia Hassani signs one of her works in Kabul on Dec. 19, 2010. A group of women in burqas rises from the sea to symbolise cleanliness, while further down the factory wall a bus with no wheels and crammed with passengers is a stark comment on war-torn Kabul’s appalling public transport.



Afghani painter Shamsia Hassani on her mural art, via Kabul at Work


MUST SEE & Meet Shamsia Hassani, Afghanistan’s first female street artist and women’s rights activist.

“I want to colour over the bad memories of war on the walls and if I colour over these bad memories, then I erase [war] from people’s minds. I want to make Afghanistan famous because of its art, not its war.”

Click the photo to read the article and watch video.


El Mac and Shamsia - Saigon, Vietnam

بعضی حرفها را باید دید ،بعضی حرفها گفتنی نیست.

Translation of Farsi: Some Of The Things You See Are Not Worth Mentioning.

Street art News:

 El Mac is currently in Vietnam where he just completed this beautiful collaboration with Shamsia Hassani on the streets of Saigon, Vietnam.

The American artist painted one of his signature photo-realistic portraits while the Afghan Artist wrote in Persian “ بعضی حرفها را باید دید ،بعضی حرفها گفتنی نیست.” which translates to “Some Of The Things You See Are Not Worth Mentioning”.


In the words of the artist , El Mac on his new piece for the 7th Asia Pacific Triennial in Australia: this “is a collaboration with Shamsia Hassani and the Propeller Group. Shamsia Hassani is the first and probably only serious female graffiti writer in Afghanistan, and is also an associate professor in the Fine Arts Department at Kabul University. I painted the central figure in the piece based on photos I took of her, using spraypaint and fatcaps, freehand as usual. Shamsia painted the surrounding designs and poetry with spraypaint and acrylic.

"Birds of no nation
Are all captive
Like me
With no voice for singing”


Kabul’s Female Graffiti Master | The Creators Project Meets Shamsia Hassani

The somber depictions of Afghan women on Kabul’s rutted streets offer rare public insight into their lives, still marred by violence and injustice despite progress in women’s rights since the Taliban was toppled over a decade ago.

In an abandoned textile factory, Hassani spray-painted a wall with six willowy figures in sky-blue burqas, who rise out of the ground like ghosts.

“In three decades of war, women have had to carry the greatest burdens on their shoulders,” Hassani, who also works in the faculty of fine arts at Kabul University, told Reuters.

Her friend and fellow artist Qasem Foushanji, 25, said he avoids images he describes as cliché, such as the Taliban, but wants to produce socially political art about aspects of Afghan life that “make people go nuts, like women being beaten.”

—  Reuters article about Kabul street artists Shamsia Hassani and Qasem Foushanji.