When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Keeping an eye on the walls of Kabul
Keeping an eye on the walls of Kabul
Mudassar Shah

KABUL — Eyes are always described as a symbol of beauty in art and eastern literature, but the two eyes painted on a wall in Kabul's Share New neighborhood have literally beautified an ugly security wall. And in this case, eyes are used as a symbol of monitoring corruption.

These "we are watching" eyes were created by the ArtLords, a group of young creatives who paint war-torn walls across the city of Kabul. "We have been facing cultural and social problems in Afghanistan, and art has never been used to solve disputes," says the group's leader Kabir Mokamel. "Instead force is used to solve the disputes and issues in Afghanistan. Art is soft power and a tool to use for peace in the country."

Photo: ArtLords Facebook page

Mokamel graduated with a fine arts degree in Australia and retuned to Afghanistan four years ago only to realize that the city had lost its beauty. He gathered some friends, and together they have painting walls since June. He says their message is clear: peace and clean government.

"We want to show that violence is not a solution," Mokamel says. "Bloodshed should be quelled on earth and corruption should be stopped too in our country since it breeds other evils."

The latest report from Transparency International ranks Afghanistan among the top three most corrupt countries in the world. Another ArtLords member, Omar Shafiri, believes that art speaks a thousand words.

"I prefer to use arts, music and dance since these attract young people," Shafiri says. "We use what they're most interested in to convey our message. And a lot of young people want to join us now."

High school student Nasir Kakar passes the walls every day. "The ArtLords group has taken away the ugliness of the walls with the strokes of their brushes," he says, adding that bought cold drinks for them once.

As a self-funded group, ArtLords hopes to highlight social issues with its public graffiti. Its latest project is called "the heroes of my city: the street sweepers."

"Heroes in Afghanistan are always considered those who have weapons and arms," Mokamel says. "We want to change the concept of a hero in our country and want to portray sweepers as heroes who clean the city daily."

Mokamel also wants to invite Pakistani artists to paint the walls here. After a recent bombing in Kabul, in which Pakistanis were blamed for the incident, things have been tense between the two countries. Mokamel believes his project could be the perfect antidote.

"We want to bridge the Afghan and Pakistani communities and bring them close to each other," he says. "Art doesn't have boundaries, while politics divides us. People should exchange ideas, and art has the power to do it."

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Coronavirus

Will China's Zero COVID Ever End?

Too much has been put in to the state-sponsored truth that minimal spread of the virus is the at-all-cost objective. But if the Chinese economy continues to suffer, Xi Jinping may have no choice but to second guess himself.

COVID testing in Guiyang, China

Cfoto/DDP via ZUMA
Deng Yuwen

The tragic bus accident in Guiyang last month — in which 27 people being sent to quarantine were killed — was one of the worst examples of collateral damage since the COVID-19 pandemic began in China nearly three years ago. While the crash can ultimately be traced back to bad government policy, the local authorities did not register it as a Zero COVID related casualty. It was, for them, a simple traffic accident.

The officials in the southern Chinese province of Guizhou, of course, had no alternative. Drawing a link between the deadly crash and the strict policy of Zero COVID, touted by President Xi Jinping, would have revealed the absurdity of the government's choices.

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ