News / Arts & Entertainment

    Afghan Female Artist Beats the Odds

    Afghan artist Malina Suliman is pictured inside The Venue art gallery in Kabul December 2, 2012.
    Afghan artist Malina Suliman is pictured inside The Venue art gallery in Kabul December 2, 2012.
    Reuters
    Charred bodies lie scattered against blood-stained walls and debris covers the ground. For Afghanistan, the only unusual thing in this gruesome scene is that the blood is red paint - and part of an art installation.

    It's a work by Afghan artist Malina Suliman, 23, who risks her life, sometimes working by flashlight after dark, to create art in southern Kandahar province, the birthplace of the Taliban and still one of the country's most dangerous areas.

    A visitor views artwork at The Venue art gallery in Kabul December 2, 2012.
    A visitor views artwork at The Venue art gallery in Kabul December 2, 2012.
    Her pieces, which range from conceptual art to paintings and sculpture, are bold representations of the problems facing her generation and have drawn praise from top officials in Kandahar, making her exceptional in a place where women face even greater restrictions than in other parts of the country.

    "Many people had never seen an art installation... Some were offended and others were hurt because they'd experienced it before,'' Suliman said of  "War and Chaos,'' which was in an exhibit last year and depicts the aftermath of a suicide bombing, an all too common event in Kandahar.

    Her haunting, powerful pieces earned her an invitation last year to President Hamid Karzai's palace in Kabul, where she showed her art to the Afghan leader, who is also from Kandahar.

    Suliman's artwork is now making waves in the Afghan capital of Kabul, where she lived after fleeing the violence of her native province as a child. In December, she had two exhibits there, a highlight of which was a sculpture of a woman in baggy clothing with a noose tied around her neck.

    Afghan artist Malina Suliman paints graffiti on a wall in Kandahar city December 30, 2012.
    Afghan artist Malina Suliman paints graffiti on a wall in Kandahar city December 30, 2012.
    An exhibit in Kandahar, where the Taliban and tribal elders dominate public opinion, was the first there in three decades. She drew a mostly male crowd of around 100, including Kandahar governor Tooryalai Wesa and some of Karzai's relatives.

    "I was taken aback by her work. I had only seen great art abroad, but never here,'' Wesa later told Reuters, recalling the exhibit, which featured a painting of a fetus in the womb suspended from a tree and being pulled in different ways. "I hope it persuades more women to do the same.''

    Suliman said this piece, called "Today's Life'', reflected the frustrations of her generation.

    "Before a child is born, the parents are already thinking that a son can support them and a daughter can be married off to a wealthy suitor. They don't stop to think what the child may want,'' she said.

    Slow progress for art

    Thirty years of war and conflict, starting with the Soviet invasion of 1979, effectively shelved Afghanistan's art scene. The austere 1996-2001 rule of the Taliban then banned most art outright, declaring it un-Islamic.

    Since the Islamist group was toppled by U.S.-backed Afghan forces almost twelve years ago, large Afghan cities have resurrected something of an art movement, but progress is slow.

    Herat city, in the country's west, now has art studios for rent, while Mazar-e-Sharif in the north has an artist collective and a lively graffiti scene.

    Suliman, who is self-confident and energetic with almond-shaped eyes, joined the Kandahar Fine Art Association, a relatively new, all-male group whose goal is to support and exhibit local art, one year ago.

    The small collective of 10 artists caught the eye of the Ministry of Information and Culture, which funded and last year opened Kandahar's first art gallery, where Suliman has exhibited. Since she joined the collective, several more Kandahar-based female artists have come on board.

    But the stakes remain high.

    "One of our biggest fears is that people will mistake us for creating art for foreigners or working with NGOs. People who work with NGOs get shot without question in Kandahar,'' she said.

    Afghan artist Malina Suliman paints graffiti on a wall in Kandahar city December 30, 2012.
    Afghan artist Malina Suliman paints graffiti on a wall in Kandahar city December 30, 2012.
    Despite her success, Suliman has received threatening phone calls warning her against attending her own exhibits, and the Taliban have spoken out against her.

    Even creating her art must take place away from public view. She often waits until after dusk, working with a dim flashlight.

    Suliman recalls her first exhibit in Kandahar last year, and how she trembled as she made her way towards the gallery, in fear of it being bombed.

    "I was so scared... Whenever there is a gathering of government officials it becomes a target,'' she said.

    But one of Suliman's greatest challenges lies at home. "The night of my first exhibit my family told me 'if you go, don't come back','' she said with a wry laugh.

    While her sisters and mother now support her ambition and passion, her brothers and property developer father remain fiercely opposed -- attitudes typical for Afghanistan.

    She is now looking to expand Kandahar's budding art scene to nearby Helmand, hoping to secure locally-sourced funds for workshops and training.

    When asked if she is scared, she mentions her sculpture of the hanged woman and smiles.

    "That's what happens to women when they ask for their rights in this country,'' she says, impudently.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    New in Music Alley

    Take It From The Top: Stanley Jordani
    || 0:00:00
    ...  
     
    X
    May 17, 2016 5:01 PM
    Jazz fusion artist, Stanley Jordan is known for his touch technique which allows him to play melodies and chords simultaneously. He can also play two different guitars or a guitar and piano at the same time.

    Jazz fusion artist, Stanley Jordan is known for his touch technique which allows him to play melodies and chords simultaneously.  He can also play two different guitars or a guitar and piano at the same time.