Sunday December 25, 2016
Kabul (BNA) At 22 years old, Shamsia Hassani became interested in graffiti spray painting the surreal visions fostered in her imagination onto empty city walls.
Her family was supportive yet worried, and understandably so. Street art is a risky endeavor in itself, but for a young woman based in Kabul, Afghanistan, the possibility of harassment and abuse was real, if not inevitable. Hassani, however, was committed to her calling. “It’s all about women,” she explained to The Huffington Post. “It’s about trying to stay strong in a society that is not good to women.” And so she made the city of Kabul her canvas, adorning its public, blank spaces with vibrant depictions of young women somewhere between self-portraits and universal renderings of sensitivity and strength. Often her subjects are pictured playing instruments, daydreaming, or wandering through the city streets. Sometimes piano keys or skyscrapers blend into the women’s dresses and hijab, emphasizing the proximity between environment and personality, as well as reality and fantasy.
“They are characters relaying different messages and different ideas,” Hassani said. Her recent series, “Chameleon,” focuses on all the varying personalities that coexist within her own consciousness. “When I change my environment, I also change myself,” she explained.
Specifically, Hassani felt anxious and self-conscious when visiting Iran ― despite being born there ― because of her Afghani heritage. “When I am traveling, sometimes I worry about my nationality and what people think about me,” she said. “People don’t always have a good idea about Afghani people. But, with chameleons and me, the color of the heart never changes.” Hassani’s paintings portray young women in vibrant and succinct terms ― their heart-shaped faces marked only with sweeping black eyelids and luxuriant lashes, and perhaps a small indentation where a nose should be. The artist’s pop-surrealist style riffs on traditional, folkloric Afghan imagery, infusing it with a contemporary, feminist state of mind. Since she began spray painting in 2010, Hassani has faced a great deal of hostility. “A lot of closed-minded people try to stop my work,” she said. “They use a lot of bad words.” Some opponents believe her work violates the tenets of Islam. Others believe that women should, as Hassani described, “stay at home.”
The rampant misogyny Hassani has faced, however, only propels her purpose further. Her works speaks in the face not only of sexist beliefs at home, but also abroad. In particular, Hassani challenges the Western assumption that burqa and hijabi limit women’s freedom, when there are so many more prohibitive restraints on women in place than their clothing choices. “In our tradition a woman should cover her head,” Hassani explained. “But if women took off their burqa, nothing else would change about their lives. They still have no education; they still cannot share their ideas. Freedom is not in taking off the burqa, it is in having peace and freedom. The style or clothing is not important.” Most often, Hassani begins a new work by sketching it out in small notebook, teasing out her idea into a visually compelling composition. Then, she translates the image onto a larger canvas. Sometimes, she visits a location in person, spray painting in classic graffiti fashion. But when a site is off-limits for security reasons, Hassani opts for a technique she devised called “dream graffiti,” which allows her to achieve her ideal vision without jeopardizing her safety.
First, Hassani takes a photo of the Afghanistan site she would, in principle, want to deck out. She then enlarges and prints the image, painting her graffiti artwork on top of the photograph. “I paint on the walls of the picture,” Hassani explained, her process aptly mirroring her imaginative and persistent spirit in the wake of tremendous obstacles.
After posting images of her work on Facebook and Instagram, Hassani amassed a substantial social media following, catching the attention of curators and allergists as well. As curator and arts administrator Leeza Ahmady, who researched Hassani’s work in Afghanistan, expressed in a statement: “As self-portraits they are representations of the different parts of herself, of her aspirations, her imaginative and playful personality traits, and deep desire to make her mark on the setting of an impressive new young Afghan artistic generation.” Hassani hopes her work inspires younger Afghan citizens, both men and women, to create. She said that although a few street artists have contacted her since her story became well-known, most abandon the practice after a short while, realizing the overwhelming adversity street artists’ face. “It’s 90% bad reaction, 10% good,” Hassani estimated. Nonetheless she remains passionate about her vision, and hopeful that her paintings will help inform the outside perceptions of Afghanistan molded from news headlines.
Her most recent series, “Birds of No Nation,” addresses the surge of Afghan immigration. “Afghans are leaving their country and traveling thousands of miles away to receive a nationality better than theirs,” she said. “Afghan people have grown tired and scared of their nationality. They are trying to change their characters, culture, shape, clothing, and color to blend in with humans from other nations.” The artist hopes her work creates a reason for Afghan natives to return home, focusing in her creative visions on the ways Afghanistan is special, strong, and worth fighting for. “It’s true, we have a lot of war and political problems here,” Hassani said. “But at the same time, I know there is a lot of hope. I want to show people the good things.” And so Hassani projects the colors and shapes of her mind’s eye onto the city itself, physically changing the environment she cares for so deeply. When asked about her aspirations as an artist, Hassani diverted the question. “I have only one hope for now: to have peace in my country. Peace and freedom for my people.”
Sunday, December 25, 2016
Kabul (BNA) In a meeting with members of High Media Council (HMC), acting Minister of Information and Culture and deputy minister of youth affairs, Dr. Kamal Sadat, asked the members to start their provincial trips so that to address reporters’ problems in the provinces, BNA reported.
According to the agency, the acting minister of Information and Culture called high media council’s main responsibility to boost freedom of expression, media’s activities as well as to address challenges before the media outlet in the country.
Dr. Sadat asked civil society activists and reporters to introduce their new candidates to the council, adding those who would not attend the council’s meeting without any reason, would be legally dealt. According to another report, Dr. Kamal Sadat met Shafiullah Baborzai, one of the country’s elite poet and scholar, saying protecting the country’s pure culture and serving culturists are the ministry’s main responsibilities. According to BNA, the acting minister of information and culture said that the ministry is trying to help those writers, culturists and artists facing with serious problems, including health and financial issues, asking Baborzai to help introduce those in need to the ministry.
Saturday, December 24, 2016
Jeddah (BNA) The 11th session of the Islamic Conference of Information Ministers, which concluded in Jeddah on Wednesday, called on the OIC Groups of Ambassadors in the foreign countries to pay attention to the media activity and interact with the foreign media to support Islamic causes.
The conference was held under the theme of “The Role of New Media in Confronting Terrorism and Islamophobia.” The information ministers also underlined the need for the establishment of closer ties with the civil society institutions in the OIC member states, and coordination with them to serve the issues of the Islamic Ummah in the fields of media and public relations. Addressing the conference, Deputy Information and Culture Minister on Publications, Sayeda Mojgan Mostafavi said that Islamic countries have common culture and religion as well as facing the same challenges and problems, adding today’s Islam is being reflected as the rough religion and usually war related incidents, violence, conflicts and natural disasters in developing countries are the top headlines of the world most developed countries. “The news related to Islamic countries are always being distorted and edited even the exchange of information is not taking place properly. Around 80 percent of the world population produces over 20 percent of the global news,” the deputy minister added, saying world’s top news agencies and media have been distorting the Islamic countries’ news according to their own style. “Today’s war is not a physical war, but it is a media and information war as well. Therefore it is the duty of the Islamic countries to show the real image of Islam to the world,” she added. According to Mostafavi, media and freedom of expression constitute the fundamental values of the democratic nations, the media can play effective role in social, cultural, political and economic developments, whereas Afghanistan is rapidly moving toward informational society. “Afghanistan has witnessed the increasing number of TVs, Radios, publications and the new media “Online” activities in the past one decade that have eased development process from a tribal society to modern one,” she noted, saying Afghanistan has never before had more news outlets, with 2000 print media, television stations, radio stations and at least news agencies that obviously shows the country’s 15 years achievement. Mostafavi went on saying that Afghanistan needs the support of all OIC member states specially those who have experience at the field of Media and information to assist the country to continue its way toward development and making Modern Islamic society.
Dr. Adil Atarify Azfiry
Minister of Information and Culture of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,
Dr. Yosuf Ahmad Alhosaimin
Secretary General of the OIC,
H.E. Ministers and Heads of the Delegations,
Ladies and Gentlemen
Aslamulikom Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatu
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
First of all, taking this opportunity, I would like to thank Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for their remarkable hospitality.
Considering the situation in our country, I attach importance to the cooperation with the OIC member states for further enhancing of media activities and development in the country, hopping such cooperation to be further bolstered.
Undoubtedly, the Islamic countries have common culture and religion as well as facing the same challenges and problems, today’s Islam is being reflected as the rough religion and usually war related incidents, violence, conflicts and natural disasters in developing countries are the top headlines of the world most developed countries.
The news related to Islamic countries are always being distorted and edited even the exchange of information is not taking place properly. Around 80 percent of the world population produces over 20 percent of the global news, but conversely 20 percent of the world population produces the 80 percent of the world news. At the same time world’s top news agencies and media have been distorting the Islamic countries’ news according to their own style. Today’s war is not a physical war, but it is a media and information war as well. Therefore it is the duty of the Islamic countries to show the real image of Islam to the world.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Ministry of Information and Culture of the Islamic republic of Afghanistan core objective is to build and promote a strong mass media sector in Afghanistan through training, advocacy, organizing seminars, issuing license to independent media and productions. Increased levels of press freedom and a growth in Afghanistan’s media sector. The country has witnessed a flourishing, effective and innovative media sector, which plays a key role in the political and cultural arenas and in daily life for many Afghans.
No doubt, media and freedom of expression constitute the fundamental values of the democratic nations, the media can play effective role in social, cultural, political and economic developments, whereas Afghanistan is rapidly moving toward informational society.
Afghanistan has also witnessed the increasing number of TVs, Radios, publications and the new media “Online” activities in the past one decade that have eased development process from a tribal society to modern one. Afghanistan has never before had more news outlets, with 2000 print media, television stations, radio stations and at least news agencies that obviously shows the country’s 14 years achievement.
With the efforts of MoIC, the law on establishment and regulation of the mass media been finalized and codified.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As we all know that in today's Scenario especially for Muslim Uma Media is one of the Important element for uniting in fight against Islam phobia , violence , Terrorism and all those policies and propaganda which is going on against Islam and Muslims.
I would like to express my support to all resolutions of the 11th sessions of the Conference of Information Minister, we are appreciating and welcoming the hard work of senior officials and fully support the Secretary General to implement these resolutions.
By adopting these resolutions, it give strong instrument to OIC to implements it is media strategy, OIC Media Strategy in Countering Islam phobia and its Implementation Mechanism, OIC 2025 Comprehensive Media Strategy, Internal and External Media Action in Partnership with OIC Member States and International Media.
Let me say at conclusion that Afghanistan need the support of all member states specially those who have experience at the field of Media and information to assist Afghanistan to continue its way toward development and making Modern Islamic society.
Thank you for your attention