Graffiti as a tool for liberation in Kabul

Liberation and the fight for women's rights through contemporary art and graffiti in Kabul.


Life in Kabul, Afghanistan is tough, especially for women, said Shamsia Hassani in a recent interview with The Kabul Art Project - a website dedicated to the liberation of Afghan people through contemporary arts.

As a graffiti artist and a woman, Hassani faces a number of limitations. Born in Iran, the 27-year-old was initially denied access to study art due to her gender and nationality but has since managed to graduate from the Kabul University.

Now a lecturer, Hassani’s chosen form of expression – graffiti – has proven to be perilous as authorities don’t approve of the art form and conservative society is resistant to the idea of a woman expressing herself in public.

Her work features female figures depicted in burqas, a garment worn by women in some Islamic traditions to cover their bodies when in public. Her signature style leans toward modernist art, using sharp geometrical shapes and limited colours infused with traditional graffiti elements such as bubbles, stars and text.

She paints these larger-than-life figures to remind the public that women are strong, independent and should be revered considering the atrocities and injustices they face in Afghanistan.

For Hassani, art is more effective than words when fighting for women's rights.


Another Afghan art project belongs to artist Kabir Mokamel. Alongside a group of supporters, Mokamel paints the blast walls that line the city with uplifting, educational murals.

Blast walls were erected all over the city to protect vulnerable buildings and the people inside them from the effects of nearby explosions in the war-torn region. For Mokamel, when you paint pictures on a wall, the wall disappears and a new space is created.

The group’s first mural was a giant pair of women's eyes with the text, "I'm watching you. Corruption is not hidden from God or the people's eyes."

Image: Omaid Sharifi / ArtLords. Courtesy of