Malina Suliman and Shamsia Hassani are Muslim women street artists in Afghanistan. They discuss their work, what inspires them, and what challenges they face.
On the walls of the suburbs around Kabul, several huge female figures and a female skeleton wearing burqa are watching the passersby. These are the remarkable street art made by two brave Muslim women graffiti artists, Malina Suliman and Shamsia Hassani.
“Art can bring change, I am sure.” Hassani believes. She chose street art to present her ideas directly to the public. In the war-torn city Kandahar, many abandoned walls and huge concrete barriers could also be seen as the perfect canvas for graffiti art. For the lacking of women’s voice in social life of local culture, Hassani emphasizes large female figures on the walls to remind people about the existence of women. Although Hassani has been only working at the area where less pedestrians, she still could not avoid being threw stones by the passers-by. Hassani had to pause painting right away, yet she takes picture of what she had done and went back home continue to work on the picture through Photoshop to finish the “fantasy graffiti,” which is almost the same as spraying paint on the wall.
Hassani’s street art breaks the stereotype of passive Muslim woman, while Suliman’s art further demonstrates the intellectual acuteness of a Muslima.