Arif Bahaduri – Painter and Performer – Kabul

Born in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan, in 1992

Certificates and Awards:

Participated in Vasl artist collective residency Pakistan (2017)

Certificate ,Afghan contemporary art prize, 2013 Certificate, Republic of Czech, 2010

Certificate, Amozgar Radio Station, 2010 Certificate, Universal Peace Federation, 2010

Solo exhibition

Incurable wounds, Kabul, 2013

Group Exhibitions:

Fabric ( Orielsycharthgallery) Wales, 2014

Afghan contemporary Art prize 4,  Bagh-e-Babor,Queen Palace ,Kabul,2013)

All Afghan Artists, Bagh-e-Babor, Kabul, 2012

Salaam Aftaab Festival, Third Eye photojournalism Center, Kabul, 2011

Peace Festival, Merfat Gallery, Kabul, 2010 Rewayat-e-Mazlomiat, Sarab Gallery, Kabul, 2010 New Year, Amozgar Radio Station, Kabul, 2010

International children’s’ of Fine Arts exhibition, Czech, 2010 Art for hope, France Cultural Center, Kabul, 2009

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Portrait: Qais Essar

Qais Essar is a young Afghan-American musician widely known for his mastery of the Rabab in his music. Essar’s music is a blend of traditional and classical Afghan music with a modern sound. The musician has played internationally, released two albums, and is also part of the band, Qais Essar & The Qosmonauts. Below, you can read our interview with Essar and find more about him here: http://www.therabab.com/

When did you first pick up the Rabab (is there a story behind this)?

It’s your typical love story really- boy meets rabab, boy falls in love with rabab, boy’s life is turned upside down and would never again be the same. I started my formal training and education in music at a very young age, around 7 or so. To some people’s surprise, I played Tambour, and later even the Sitar before I played Rabab. And it wasn’t only limited to eastern instruments. This time also coincided with the beginning of my western music education as well, so I was also playing the violin, guitar, and trying my hand at other various others. Though proficient, I was still left, whether I was aware of it or not, feeling incomplete. This longing for wholeness led me to the Rabab, subsequently ending the dance between different instruments. I had discovered the sound I would use to communicate where words fail, I found completion.

Much of your music combines the contemporary with the classical, do you find this to be in a way your reclamation to your Afghan cultural roots? Do you find that it is necessary to spread more exposure of Afghan music and culture?

Not only is the combination of the contemporary with the classical a reclamation of my cultural roots, but it is a claim on the future- a redefinition of Afghan music, for a new global audience. Given the current political climate the music becomes a vehicle to address my own socio-political agenda naturally, which is chiefly, to provide a different narrative from the negative image that is perpetuated in popular media. To look at the art of a people is to look into their very hearts, so what better way introduce others to Afghanistan and the beauty of its music and culture.

In 2017, what does it mean to carry the identity of an Afghan artist? Is the label “Afghan musician” limiting or enlightening for you personally?

Personally, I feel it comes with a serious responsibility. Artists enjoy something that others may not have an easy access to- an audience. Be it an audience of 50, or 500000, artists have an innate way of reaching people. So, while I have some people’s attention, I can act at a self-appointed ambassador of sorts, and introduce others to a world of sounds and colors unknown to them. And given the tensions among people today, and the need for representation, it’s a privilege to share this music with a global community and to feature what I think is the very best of my ancestral home.

Your music and videos have an esoteric, almost longing quality to it that hints at influences by Rumi and other mystical Sufism influences. Are there particular aspects that you are drawn to and want to incorporate in your music?

I feel like music has always been my cane in the darkness, as I fumble around blind in lifelong existential crisis. The Sufi longs for divine union with the beloved- I feel music can give you glimpses of this. A tool, holy, music has the ability to transcend the listener far beyond into realms unknown and to offer a look behind the veil. Arcane knowledge and sciences hold that the universe was created by the energy of sound, that the world is sound.  In this light, music is an interpretation of the divine. All the answers are there, we just must learn to listen. Sarod maestro Ustad Ali Akbar Khan had once said concerning Indian classical music, “These songs [are] not for entertainment… you are collecting power, knowledge… purifying your inner soul”. These are concepts that I strive to educate myself further on over the course of my life, and to hope to be able to apply it to my own music.

Any future tour dates in Afghanistan?

Touring Afghanistan would be a dream realized. I eagerly await the opportunity to go and perform for my brothers and sisters, and to honor the land that bore the instrument that led me back.   

Image Courtesy of the Artist

Image Courtesy of the Artist

Atiq Rahimi at National Archives – Kabul

” An Afghan Cultural Identity ? ”

Exhibition at National Archives from April 25 till July 25, 2016.

A collaboration National Archives & Afghanculturemuseum.

With Atiq Rahimi, Bismillah Khusravi, Patrick Pleutin, Pascale Bastide

“My culture is genuinely plural. So, my cultural identity is defined by its interaction with the Indian, Persian-speaking, Arabic, Turkish and Chinese civilizations.

Seventy two nations shall hear from us their secrets. We chant the air of two hundred religions on a single note of flute.

The mixture of ethnic groups and cultures, the richness of this land is threatened by the wars, let us wish ardently the peace to protect this very unique wealth of ours” Atiq Rahimi

Portrait : Shamsia Hassani

  • Ommolbanin “Shamsia Hassani born in 1988 (Iran) is an Afghan graffiti artist, and teacher at Faculty of Fine Arts, Kabul University.

In her graffiti, Shamsia often paints women in Burqas, and fishes, symbols of the atmosphere flowing around her and her own life experiences.

She uses her art to help bring positive changes to people and more specifically to wash away the depressing memories of long-time war having taken place in her country.

As an Afghan girl confronting reactions motivated from traditional views, it is not always easy for Shamsia to do graffiti the way other graffiti artists would do around the world.

She would sometimes work her graffiti concepts out as drawings/paintings applied onto prints of pictures taken from different parts of Kabul: a category she calls “Dream of Graffiti.”

She was selected as one of Top10 for the 2nd Afghan Contemporary Art Prize in 2009, and since then has been part of solo and group exhibitions inside and outside of Afghanistan (e.g. Germany, Australia, Iran,  India, Vietnam, Switzerland, Denmark ).

Teaching at fine art faculty of Kabul University, Shamsia, who is also one of the founders of Berang Arts Organization, puts her best effort to exchange her contemporary arts experiences with her students and present more artists to the community.

 

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https://www.facebook.com/pages/Shamsia-Hassani/252100761577381

Portrait : Abdul Qasem Foushanji

Abul Qasem Foushanji – aka Dark Artery – born in 1987 (Afghanistan) is an Afghan freelance artist. His creates mostly Abstract artworks in mediums of painting/illustration, sound, and mixed media.

Along with his family, he spent 18 years of his life in Iran.

For about four years, during his childhood, he learned Realism painting from his Armenian master but after that he never went through any academy for arts.

He was graduated from high school in Tehran in 2004, and it was the same year that he came back to his origin, Afghanistan.

As Metal music has been a part of his life, and it was all a new life experience in India, Qasem started painting in the field of Modern Art in his second year of staying in that country (2007).

At that time his art (mostly paintings and drawings at that time) were more linked to the theme of “weakness and the failure of human body”.

After coming back from India, he continued working on paintings more concentrated, and was selected as one of Top10 artists for the 2nd Afghan Contemporary Art Prize.

Since then, his works have been on several group exhibitions in Kabul, while recently chosen to exhibit for dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel, Germany as well as for its Kabul exhibition.

Qasem often reflects the unclean and dark aspects of life, believing “most of the people ignore such aspects, because it is not beautiful, but showing it more can help to create solutions.”

He is currently focused on creating more multimedia works. He also plays bass and writes the lyrics for Afghanistan’s only Metal band District Unknown. The artists that he is inspired by are Björk, Mogwai, Clyfford Still, and Salvador Dali.

 

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Portrait : Zarlacht Sarmastand

 

Zarlasht Sarmastand women’s rights activist born and raised in Kabul, Afghanistan. She started her television career at the age of 11 in 2006 presenting and producing radio segments for the “Powerful Youth”, a programme broadcasted at RTA (Radio Television Afghanistan) radio station. Due to her talent, later on she was invited to produce and present “Future Makers,” a TV programme funded by JICKA and broadcasted also in RTA, featuring young peace ambassadors and movers and shakers throughout the country whom were very active in their communities and working in the peace-building on the nation. In 2008, she joined the production team of “CSA: Crime Scene Afghanistan” as the youngest TV presenter and producer along with award-winner journalists Amin Hanqo and Zabiullah Arya to produce and anchor the weekly youth segment on Children and Youth’s right in Afghanistan. Funded by UNAMA, the TV programme promoted the articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

In 2011, Zarlasht was named as Afghanistan’s Youth Peace Ambassador by the Afghan National Jirga for her constant work advocating for youth’s and women’s right. Some of her latest projects include the 2013 Sound Central Music Festival for the Youth, “We Believe in Balloons” peace campaign and arts installation, “Creative Despite War” film project, among others. She is currently working in the production of a web series called “Conversations with Zarlasht” featuring interviews focusing on the artists, politicians, musicians, and citizens that are living and working in Kabul, Afghanistan. She is also applying to different university programmes and scholarships opportunities to study Human Rights and Journalism.

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Portrait : Zolaykha Sherzad

Zolaykha Sherzad was born in Kabul, Afghanistan where she lived until the age of ten. When the Soviets invaded in 1979, Zolaykha and her family were forced to flee and settled as political refugees in Switzerland.

Trained as an architect, Zolaykha received her Masters in Architecture from the School of Architecture at the Federal Institute of Technology.

In 2000, she founded School of Hope, a non-profit organization that has successfully rebuilt and supported primary and secondary schools in rural Afghanistan.

In 2004, she started Zarif Design (Zarif means “precious” in Farsi) to help revive the Afghan artistic culture.

Today Zarif Design employs 50 Afghan women and men who, from their homes and one workshops in the old city of Kabul, revive traditional Afghan textiles and create strikingly unique and magnificently finished jackets and coats.

 

 

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Are you ready to get your hands on beautiful, handmade clothing? Email zarif@zarifdesign.com, view the contact information or visit http://www.farandwidecollective.com/collections/jackets to purchase something now.

 

 

 

Portrait : Mehdi Zafari

My name is Mehdi Zafari, born in 1983 in Ghazni province of Afghanistan in the Gol-Kuh village in the district of Qarah Bagh.

I am studying Anthropology at the EHESS in Paris, France, I am also a documentary filmmaker.

When I was a child, during the Soviet Union invasion, our house was bombed by the Soviet killing eight of my family.  Following that tragedy, my family decided to take refugee first in Pakistan and then in Iran.  I finished my school in Iran, a country with which we share the same language and religion.

With the fall of Taliban regime I decided to go back to my country in order to continue my education. A year later, I entered Kabul University, Fine Arts section.

The faculty lacked expert teachers and equipments. The workshops launched by foreign embassies were our only hope for knowledge and experience.

In 2006, I entered a course on documentary filmmaking delivered by the French Film School Ateliers Varan. Since then I have participated in a summer school on Cinema and Human Rights held in conjunction with the Venice Film Festival in Italy, participated in the Berlin Film Festival’s Berlinale-Talent Campus, attended the French National Film School La Fémis Documentary Summer School, attended the  “5 sur 5” Film Festival held in La Louviere Belgium and took part in a Film Editing course provided by Ateliers Varan in Kabul and some workshop in Paris at INA.

In 2009 Ateliers Varan workshop, along with my former French professor, I served as assistant trainer for a new group of 10 young film students.

In October and November 2010, I was working as Trainer and Training Coordinator in a production and training documentary program for young film students in Afghanistan called Community Supported Film from Boston, USA.