Shasmia Hassani’s murals as a message of hope

In a world where culture and art can be influenced by geopolitical and social dynamics, few realities encapsulate this relationship as well as Afghanistan. The country has a rich cultural history spanning many centuries, but one that has been severely tested during the recent armed conflict. However, despite the difficulties, Afghan art and culture have continued to thrive and evolve, thanks to talented artists who have been able to bring out their voices in a hostile and often dangerous environment.

One witness is Shamsia Hassani, an Afghan-born contemporary artist born in 1988 in Tehran, Iran, but who spends much of her life in Kabul, where she currently lives and works as a professor of sculpture at Kabul University.

Shamsia Hassani, Birds of no nation – Courtesy Shamsia Hassani

Hassani is best known for her urban art, particularly her murals, which she creates using stencil technique and spray paint. Her works often feature female figures representing the power and strength of Afghan women, addressing the struggle for social and cultural change in her country that is central to her art.

One of Hassani’s most famous works is “Birds of No Nation”: a series of murals depicting a female figure in traditional Afghan dress immersed in an urban space, within which she moves with a keyboard in her hand. The images give the idea of a woman in constant motion, watching as a spectator the surrounding landscape. On the one hand, the sound of music could be like a call for hope or help, but still, a presence, to say, “I exist!”; on the other, the sad expression on her face is a clear reference to the condition of Afghans under the Taliban regime.

Shamsia Hassani, Birds of no nation – Courtesy Shamsia Hassani

Hassani dichiara che i “Birds of no nation” sono “gli afghani che migrano verso altri paesi e non hanno più una nazionalità, che vengono dal nulla”. La sua arte è il modo in cui cerca di esprimere la sua esperienza personale come donna afghana, ma anche di parlare dei problemi sociali e politici del suo paese. Attraverso i suoi murales, Hassani cerca di creare una connessione emotiva tra le persone e le loro comunità, e di far emergere un senso di solidarietà e di consapevolezza delle problematiche sociali.

Hassani declares that the “Birds of no nation” are “Afghans who migrate to other countries and no longer have a nationality, who come from nowhere.” Her art is her way of trying to express her personal experience as an Afghan woman, but also to talk about the social and political problems of her country. Through her murals, Hassani seeks to create an emotional connection between people and their communities and to bring out a sense of solidarity and awareness of social issues.

Shamsia Hassani, Birds of no nation – Courtesy Shamsia Hassani

In addition to Afghanistan, her murals can be found in several countries around the world, including the United States, Vietnam, Switzerland, Germany, and even Italy, so chances are you have passed by them at least once in your life.