Wednesday, July 31, 2013

ESPN Films & espnW's NINE FOR IX Presents: THE DIPLOMAT Premieres Tuesday, August 6 at 8:00PM ET


ESPN Films & espnW's NINE FOR IX Presents:


THE DIPLOMAT

Premieres Tuesday, August 6 at 8:00PM ET



Directors | Jennifer Arnold and Senain Kheshgi

Cast | Katarina Witt, Brian Boitano

SYNOPSIS | At the height of the Cold War, Katarina Witt became one of East Germany’s most famous athletes. Trained in an ice rink that gave rise to socialist heroes, Witt dominated her field by winning six European skating titles, five world championships and back-to-back Olympic gold medals to become arguably the world’s best figure skater. Known as “the most beautiful face of socialism” her success gave her a unique status in East Germany. It also triggered constant surveillance by the Stasi, East Germany’s notorious secret police force. This film chronicles how Witt, one of the greatest skaters of all time, fought for her future in socialist East Germany, how she faced the great changes that occurred after the fall of The Berlin Wall and, ultimately, how she ended up both a beneficiary and victim of the East German regime.



**Katarina Witt and Directors available for interviews**



The remainder of the Nine for IX series on ESPN will air Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. ET as follows:

August 6: The Diplomat
August 13: Runner
August 20: The ‘99ers
August 27: Branded

For more information visit: http://espn.go.com/espnw/w-in-action/nine-for-ix/ 
#fineartmagazine


IFP’S 23rd ANNUAL GOTHAM INDEPENDENT FILM AWARDS CEREMONY: Deadline for Submissions is September 20th, 2013


IFP’S 23rd ANNUAL GOTHAM INDEPENDENT FILM AWARDS CEREMONY

TO TAKE PLACE ON MONDAY, DECEMBER 2nd
AT CIPRIANI WALL STREET IN
NEW YORK CITY




New ‘Best Actor’ and ‘Best Actress’ Categories Added

Deadline for Submissions is September 20th, 2013



New York, NY (July 31, 2013) –The Independent Filmmaker Project®, the nation’s oldest and largest organization of independent filmmakers, today announced that the 23rd Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards will take place this year at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City on Monday, December 2nd.   
Also, for the first time, Gotham Awards will be presented in the newly added competitive categories of Best Actor and Best Actress.

The first award show of the season, the Gotham Independent Film Awards, established in 1991, celebrate the authentic voices behind and in front of the camera in the year’s best American independent feature films. Submissions are now open for the 2013 awards.

The Gothams provide critical early recognition to worthy independent films and their writers, directors, producers, and actors. Past winners include MOONRISE KINGDOM , BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD, and HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE (2012);  BEGINNERS, THE TREE OF LIFE, and BETTER THIS WORLD (2011), WINTER’S BONE and THE OATH (2010), THE HURT LOCKER and FOOD, INC. (2009), FROZEN RIVER  and TROUBLE THE WATER (2008), INTO THE WILD and SICKO (2007) and HALF NELSON and IRAQ IN FRAGMENTS (2006), all of which went on to numerous awards and Oscar nominations.

Each year IFP chooses a jury of innovators and icons in documentary and feature film directing, producing, cinematography, and acting to bestow the Gotham’s competitive awards. In addition to the new Best Actor and Best Actress awards, the seven competitive awards for 2013 include Best Feature, Best Documentary, Breakthrough Actor, and the Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award.  All nominees for these honors are determined by nominating committees of critics and programmers.  Additionally the Gotham Audience Award allows film enthusiasts around the globe to vote online for the winner. 

The Breakthrough Director Award, given for the best first feature, has been renamed in honor of Bingham Ray, the late distribution executive.  The award for Ensemble Performance will henceforth be presented on occasion as a special award, and the award for the best film without distribution–Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You®–is being discontinued as an award. However, the best undistributed films of the year will continue to be showcased through IFP’s partnership with The Museum of Modern Art to present the ninth annual Best Film Not Playing At a Theatre Near You® screening series in November 2013, at MoMA.
  
“This has been a rich year for independent films – both those films out now and others on the release horizon,” said Joana Vicente, IFP Executive Director. "It promises to be an exciting season, and as the home of independent film, it is IFP’s goal to celebrate these projects and the artists’ work behind each film, helping to bring them to the attention of wider audiences."

In addition to seven competitive categories, the Gotham Independent Film Awards also recognize those who have made significant contributions to independent filmmaking by selecting individuals to single out in tribute.  Last year the organization feted director David O. Russell, actors Matt Damon and Marion Cotillard, and Participant Media founder and chairman Jeff Skoll. The 2013 Tributes will be announced in the next weeks.

For the third year, IFP will present the euphoria Calvin Klein Spotlight on Women Filmmakers ‘Live the Dream’ grant, a $25,000 cash award for an alumnus of IFP’s Independent Filmmaker Labs. This grant aims to further the careers of emerging female directors by supporting the completion, distribution and audience engagement strategies of their first feature film. The 2012 winner of this grant was Stacie Passon, writer/director of the upcoming RADiUS-TWC release, Concussion. In addition, euphoria Calvin Klein will present the newly created award for Best Actress.  

Submissions are now being accepted in six of the competitive categories: Best Feature, Best Documentary, Best Actor, Best Actress, Breakthrough Actor, and the Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award.  Applications, along with full criteria, are available at http://gotham.ifp.org.
The deadline for submissions is September 20th.  

Nominees will be announced on October 24th, 2013, and winners will be honored at a star-studded ceremony at Cipriani Wall Street on December 2nd.   

The Premier Sponsors of the 23rd annual Gotham Independent Film Awards are Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) and The New York Times, and Platinum Sponsor euphoria Calvin Klein. Additionally, the awards will be promoted nationally in an eight-page special advertising section in The New York Times in November 2013.

About IFP

The Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP) is the nation's oldest and largest not-for-profit advocacy organization for independent filmmakers.  Since its debut at the 1979 New York Film Festival, IFP has supported the production of over 7,000 films and offered resources to more than 20,000 filmmakers, providing an opportunity for many diverse voices to be heard. IFP believes that independent films enrich the universal language of cinema, seeding the global culture with new ideas, kindling awareness, and fostering activism. The organization championed the early work of pioneering independent filmmakers Charles Burnett, Todd Haynes, Mira Nair, Michael Moore, Joel and Ethan Coen, Kevin Smith, and Todd Solondz. IFP continues to play a vital role in launching first films of many of today’s rising stars on the independent scene including Debra Granik (Down to the Bone), Miranda July (Me, You and Everyone We Know), Ryan Fleck & Anna Boden (Half Nelson), Dee Rees (Pariah), and Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild).

#Fineartmagazine

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Get Ready :Check out the listings for the Hampton Classicl Events.

38th Annual

 Hampton Classic Horse Show 

See this years dates and time schedule below . 






CALENDAR LISTINGS

SUGGESTED LISTINGS FOR COMMUNITY CALENDARS
GENERAL INFORMATION

WHAT:  The 38th Annual Hampton Classic Horse Show

WHERE:  Off Route 27, at 240 Snake Hollow Road in Bridgehampton

WHEN:  August 25 – September 1, 2013

COST:  $10/person, $20/carload, children under six are admitted free daily.  On Saturday (August 31), children under 12 are admitted free.  Seniors are admitted free Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  Reserved Grandstand Seats (numbered bench seating) for Grand Prix Sunday (September 1) cost an additional $25/person; Premium Center-section Reserved Seats on Grand Prix Sunday cost $35/person. 

No charge on Monday, August 26 (limited competition this day, but boutiques and exhibition tent are open).  FREE Parking.

WHO:  Local equestrians, up-and-coming riders, Olympic veterans and world-class competitors.

CONTACT: 
Hampton Classic Horse Show Office, (631) 537-3177, Fax: (631) 537-5443, info@hamptonclassic.com.

Media Chief: Marty Bauman, Classic Communications (508) 698-6810, info@classic-communications.com.

FOR TICKETS:  At the gate or online at www.hamptonclassic.com.

GENERAL LISTING (DAILY): The Hampton Classic’s equestrian competition begins on Sunday, August 25 and continues through Sunday, September 1, with hunter, jumper and equitation competition daily from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.   The show also features more than 70 boutiques, an international food court, pony rides, petting zoo animals, special attractions, and much more. The show ends on Sunday, September 1, with the $250,000 FTI Grand Prix and FEI World Cup™ Qualifier.

Bring the whole family; it’s only $20 per carload. Children under six are admitted free. The action takes place on Snake Hollow Road, off Rte 27 in Bridgehampton. Visit www.hamptonclassic.com for more information.

DAILY ACTIVITIES
Opening Day, Sunday, August 25:

  • Opening Day Ceremonies in the Grand Prix Ring
  • $50,000 Hampton Classic Hunter Derby presented by MeadowView Farms
  • Leadline classes
  • Local hunter classes


Monday, August 26:

  • ASPCA Adoption Day
  • Finals of the Long Island Horse Show Series for Riders with Disabilities 


Tuesday, August 27:

  • $2,500 Marshall & Sterling Children’s Hunter Classic
  • $20,000 Hampton Classic Time Challenge
  • High Performance Hunter Classes
  • Newsday Open Jumper


Wednesday, August 28:

  • Wölffer Estate Open Jumper
  • Short Stirrup Classes
  • High Performance Hunter Classes


Thursday, August 29:

  • $10,000 Sam Edelman Equitation Championship
  • $10,000 Douglas Elliman Open Jumper
  • $5,000 EnTrust Junior Jumper Classic
  • $5,000 Strong’s Marine Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic
  • $2,500 Marshall & Sterling Adult Amateur Hunter Classic 


Friday, August 30:

  • $50,000 Spy Coast Farm/Young Horse Show Series Grand Prix Qualifier
  • $15,000 Lugano Diamonds Speed Derby
  • $10,000 Junior/Amateur-Owner Welcome Stake
  • Amateur-Owner Hunter classes


Saturday, August 31:

  • Optimum® Kids Day
  • $30,000 Hampton Classic Cup
  • $15,000 North Star Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic
  • $30,000 Split Rock Farm 6-Year-Old Young Jumper Championship Finals
  • $20,000 SHF Enterprises 5-Year-Old Young Jumper Championship Finals
  • $2,500 Marshall & Sterling Jumper Classics


Sunday, September 1:

  • $250,000 FTI Grand Prix & FEI World Cup™ Qualifier
  • $25,000 Hampton Classic Show Jumping Derby
  • $30,000 7 & 8 Year-Old Young Jumper Championship Finals
  • $10,000 Hermès Hunter Classic
#fineartmagazine


Get Ready :Check out the listings for the Hampton Classicl Events.








Check out the dates and time for the Hampton Classicl Events. 

CALENDAR LISTINGS

SUGGESTED LISTINGS FOR COMMUNITY CALENDARS
GENERAL INFORMATION

WHAT:  The 38th Annual Hampton Classic Horse Show

WHERE:  Off Route 27, at 240 Snake Hollow Road in Bridgehampton

WHEN:  August 25 – September 1, 2013

COST:  $10/person, $20/carload, children under six are admitted free daily.  On Saturday (August 31), children under 12 are admitted free.  Seniors are admitted free Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  Reserved Grandstand Seats (numbered bench seating) for Grand Prix Sunday (September 1) cost an additional $25/person; Premium Center-section Reserved Seats on Grand Prix Sunday cost $35/person. 

No charge on Monday, August 26 (limited competition this day, but boutiques and exhibition tent are open).  FREE Parking.

WHO:  Local equestrians, up-and-coming riders, Olympic veterans and world-class competitors.

CONTACT: 
Hampton Classic Horse Show Office, (631) 537-3177, Fax: (631) 537-5443, info@hamptonclassic.com.

Media Chief: Marty Bauman, Classic Communications (508) 698-6810, info@classic-communications.com.

FOR TICKETS:  At the gate or online at www.hamptonclassic.com.

GENERAL LISTING (DAILY): The Hampton Classic’s equestrian competition begins on Sunday, August 25 and continues through Sunday, September 1, with hunter, jumper and equitation competition daily from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.   The show also features more than 70 boutiques, an international food court, pony rides, petting zoo animals, special attractions, and much more. The show ends on Sunday, September 1, with the $250,000 FTI Grand Prix and FEI World Cup™ Qualifier.

Bring the whole family; it’s only $20 per carload. Children under six are admitted free. The action takes place on Snake Hollow Road, off Rte 27 in Bridgehampton. Visit www.hamptonclassic.com for more information.

DAILY ACTIVITIES
Opening Day, Sunday, August 25:

  • Opening Day Ceremonies in the Grand Prix Ring
  • $50,000 Hampton Classic Hunter Derby presented by MeadowView Farms
  • Leadline classes
  • Local hunter classes


Monday, August 26:

  • ASPCA Adoption Day
  • Finals of the Long Island Horse Show Series for Riders with Disabilities 


Tuesday, August 27:

  • $2,500 Marshall & Sterling Children’s Hunter Classic
  • $20,000 Hampton Classic Time Challenge
  • High Performance Hunter Classes
  • Newsday Open Jumper


Wednesday, August 28:

  • Wölffer Estate Open Jumper
  • Short Stirrup Classes
  • High Performance Hunter Classes


Thursday, August 29:

  • $10,000 Sam Edelman Equitation Championship
  • $10,000 Douglas Elliman Open Jumper
  • $5,000 EnTrust Junior Jumper Classic
  • $5,000 Strong’s Marine Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic
  • $2,500 Marshall & Sterling Adult Amateur Hunter Classic 


Friday, August 30:

  • $50,000 Spy Coast Farm/Young Horse Show Series Grand Prix Qualifier
  • $15,000 Lugano Diamonds Speed Derby
  • $10,000 Junior/Amateur-Owner Welcome Stake
  • Amateur-Owner Hunter classes


Saturday, August 31:

  • Optimum® Kids Day
  • $30,000 Hampton Classic Cup
  • $15,000 North Star Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic
  • $30,000 Split Rock Farm 6-Year-Old Young Jumper Championship Finals
  • $20,000 SHF Enterprises 5-Year-Old Young Jumper Championship Finals
  • $2,500 Marshall & Sterling Jumper Classics


Sunday, September 1:

  • $250,000 FTI Grand Prix & FEI World Cup™ Qualifier
  • $25,000 Hampton Classic Show Jumping Derby
  • $30,000 7 & 8 Year-Old Young Jumper Championship Finals
  • $10,000 Hermès Hunter Classic


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Our Mission | Dirty Profits Exposed

Our Mission | Dirty Profits Exposed: "
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Gas and girls

From the outside, Frango d’Assado could be a club like any other. It is a chicken restaurant, near to the ocean of Pemba, a small seaside village in Northern Mozambique. Frango d’Assado is known to serve the best chicken in town which is one of the reasons why it is always busy.
But it is not only famous for its peri peri basting. From Thursday night to Saturday night, the tables and chairs are removed, the lights are dimmed, and the music is on full blast.
When you step inside on one of those nights, it is easy to figure out from the unlikely scene of beautiful women flirting outrageously with any man, that it is a place to pick up prostitutes. Unemployment here is rife, and the number of prostitutes in Pemba has grown dramatically since numerous European companies have entered the town for gas exploration in the last few years. Most of the employees of these companies are men from foreign countries.
Christine* is one of the prostitutes in Pemba. She is 23 years old, but looks around 35, and charges around 100 Meticais (2.50 euro) for a client. The competition among the girls who are mostly in their twenties is immense. She
Even more frightening is that many of the prostitutes are children. They start at 9 years old, and can often be seen dancing with middle aged men. They barely reach the height of the men’s waists. The scene is absurd, but unfortunately a reality.
“There have definitely been more child prostitutes coming to Frango’s since the mines came in, and they have gotten younger,”says Christine.
The increase in the number of prostitutes naturally leads to HIV, STD’s and teenage pregnancies. But right now, this is not the priority for the Mozambican government, nor for the gas companies.
Right now, investment, exploration and dividends are all the matters in Pemba.


"

'via Blog this' #fineartmagazine

Friday, July 26, 2013

“Art is stronger than war”: Afghanistan’s first female street artist speaks out – interview | Art Radar Asia

“Art is stronger than war”: Afghanistan’s first female street artist speaks out – interview | Art Radar Asia:

'via Blog this'Previous older article: 

“Art is stronger than war”: Afghanistan’s first female street artist speaks out – interview

 
 
 
 
 
 
30 Votes

Afghan artist boldly takes to the streets with a spray can and hope for a peaceful future.

Shamsia Hassani, Afghanistan’s first female street artist, emerges as a spokesperson for women’s rights in Kabul. Art Radar spoke with the artist to find out more about visual arts in the post-conflict capital and her drive to prove art is stronger than war.
Shamsia Hassani, 'Sound Central Festival', Kabul, 2012. Image courtesy of the artist.
Shamsia Hassani, ‘Sound Central Festival’, Kabul, 2012. Image courtesy the artist.
Throughout history, Afghanistan has withstood various assaults from outside nations due to its prominent location amid Central Asia’s trade routes. In contemporary times, the country has faced military advances from Russia (1978-1989) and currently, the United States (2001-present) in response to terrorist attacks by Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
Born in Iran to Afghan parents, Shamsia Hassani is a street and digital artist working in the country’s complex and conflicted capital, where she returned in 2005 to pursue her education in Fine Art at Kabul UniversityA pioneer in Kabul’s contemporary art scene, she works to establish annual graffiti workshops across the country and, on a grander scale, to change the way society views women who refuse to conceal their opinions behind a veil of silence. Her work includes “Dreaming Graffiti,” a series in which the artist paints or Photoshops colours and images onto digital photographs to explore issues of national and personal security.
Origins 
Please tell us how you began street art in Afghanistan.
I started to do street art at a graffiti workshop in Kabul in December 2010 when a graffiti artist named Chu came from the United Kingdom to teach us. It [the workshop] was organised by Combat Communications in Kabul.
Shamsia Hassani by ‘Kabul at Work TV’
As a pioneer of street art in your country, who or what inspired you?
After the graffiti workshop, I feel that I can introduce art to people by making graffiti because [by its nature] it is always in an open place. If you have some art exhibition, we cannot invite everyone, so not everyone can come. If we have artwork in an outside place, everyone can enjoy it.
I want to colour over the bad memories of war on the walls and if I colour over these bad memories, then I erase [war] from people’s minds. I want to make Afghanistan famous because of its art, not its war.
In your opinion, how is street art different than more formal kinds of contemporary art? Is it more or less important? Why?
In Afghanistan, graffiti is something different. In Europe and other countries, graffiti is something illegal. In Afghanistan, I use it in a different way for a different message, for different ideas. Every kind of art is very good for developing art in Afghanistan. I think that graffiti is better because all people can see it and it is available for all time. This is my idea.
Shamsia Hassani, 'Russian Cultural Centre', Kabul, 2011. Photograph by Kabul at Work.
Shamsia Hassani, ‘Russian Cultural Centre’, Kabul, 2011. Photograph by Kabul at Work.
How does your family feel about your artwork?
My family likes my art. They always like to support me. They do not try to stop my work and have ideas about my artwork. They like it and I am happy with this.
Is your family in Afghanistan? Where were you born?
My family is in Afghanistan. I was born in Iran. Iran is different [from] some other countries. Even if you live there 100 years, you cannot become a citizen. In Iran, I wanted to study in the Art Department but because of my nationality, I could not. We returned to Afghanistan around eight years ago. Originally, our family is from Kandahar province.
Challenges and Rewards
What is challenging or difficult about street art in Kabul?
In Kabul, it is different than in Europe, where one must be careful of policemen. Here, I have no problem with police. I have a problem with closed-minded people and I have a big problem with bad security. I worry all the time about security problems when I am in the street and maybe that something will happen, and I am afraid that I should leave.
Shamsia Hassani, 'Sound Central Festival', Kabul, 2013. Image courtesy of Shamsia Hassani.
Shamsia Hassani, ‘Sound Central Festival’, Kabul, 2013. Image courtesy Shamsia Hassani.
What do you find surprising about doing street art in Kabul?
At first when I wanted to start doing graffiti, I didn’t start in public right away. If I did it in an inside place, in some corners, that was more comfortable [for me]. Now, I am also doing graffiti [outside] in the street.
I had no idea what problems I would face. Because it [graffiti] is something new, of course people will have different ideas [and reactions]. I was ready to hear bad words from people who were not happy with the artwork. [When I paint outside,] people are coming to me, discussing [their feelings] with me. Some of them are fighting with me, and some people want to stop my artwork.
I was most surprised by those who said “why are you making the walls dirty?” Some people are also concerned that I am doing something that is not allowed in Islam. Others think it is not very good for ladies to stand in the street and do this kind of art. At the same time, I see a few people like my work.
What kinds of reactions do you get as a woman practising street art in Afghanistan? Are you threatened or do you feel frightened? Are you lauded?
There are different groups of people who see my work differently. Some of them are interested in knowing what it is. I like people to ask me about my work. There are some people who like the work but do not know it is graffiti or what it’s called. Others say “you are making some image. It is not allowed” and “why do you want to make the wall very dirty?” Some people think that I am very free, and have no job and that’s why I am dirtying the walls. There are many different kinds of ideas.
Shamsia Hassani, 'Dreaming Graffiti Kabul', 2013. Image courtesy of the artist.
Shamsia Hassani, ‘Dreaming Graffiti Kabul’, 2013. Image courtesy the artist.
Please tell us about “Dreaming Graffiti” and what inspired you to use this technique? 
I am not always able to make or find good opportunities to do graffiti [outside]. Maybe only every two or three months I have an opportunity to do graffiti. Sometimes there are security problems or I cannot go to some area because of the people.
I decided to use large digital images, and [then I] can do graffiti inside my studio. I can do graffiti upon these images in my studio using brushes and can paint upon these images. So it’s kind of like a “dreaming graffiti” of mine. It is graffiti but only in my mind. It is not real.
Shamsia Hassani, 'Dreaming Graffiti at Darulaman Palace', 2012. Image courtesy of the artist.
Shamsia Hassani, ‘Dreaming Graffiti at Darulaman Palace’, 2012. Image courtesy the artist.
Are you or any other street artists mentoring young street artists in Afghanistan?
Yes. I want to show them how they can use graffiti. It is not a formal class that I teach at the university, but we do have two-week long workshops where I teach graffiti to the students, where I can talk about graffiti, they can use their own ideas and they can [learn to] use a spray-can to do graffiti. They really like to do it because it’s a very new form of art. It’s different than drawing on paper, and it’s good because you can make graffiti very big.
I am the youngest teacher at the university, and most of my students at the workshop are the same age as me. The average age is between twenty and 26 years old.
Shamsia Hassani, 'Message Salon', Switzerland, 2013. Image courtesy of the artist.
Shamsia Hassani, ‘Message Salon’, Switzerland, 2013. Image courtesy the artist.
Visual arts in Afghanistan
Is there a strong interest in visual arts, or its history, in Afghanistan?
There is a tradition of miniature painting, started by an Afghani artist named Kamaluldin Behzad. He was the first person who made miniature paintings in Afghanistan. He was from Herat. He was painting at the same time as Leonardo da Vinci was making paintings in Europe.
Are the Visual Arts taught to students in Afghanistan’s educational system?
Yes, but there are still some problems with the old educational system in university. There is just classical training at the university, such as drawing. Slowly, there are different kinds of ideas and other art programmes, such as contemporary art.
I am also a teacher and faculty member of the Fine Art Department at Kabul University. When the students found out that I was doing graffiti, I offered to teach the students graffiti. Last year, I prepared a graffiti workshop for them. Every year, I’d like to hold a graffiti workshop for the students because I cannot teach graffiti as a normal subject. I can show them and teach them a new form of art and introduce them to it. There are now lots of artists in Afghanistan. When I came to Afghanistan eight years ago, I could not find any good artists or artwork. Now, everything is developing, and it’s much better than before.
Shamsia Hassani, 'Dreaming Graffiti at Shamsia's Studio,' Kabul. Image courtesy of the artist.
Shamsia Hassani, ‘Dreaming Graffiti at Shamsia’s Studio,’ Kabul. Image courtesy the artist.
Please tell us about your involvement with Berang Art Organisation.
“Berang” means “colourless.” There is a story about the Berang Art Organisation. I was selected as one of the top ten artists in 2009 in Kabul. After that, these ten [artists] together wanted to make a new organisation towards developing contemporary art. We came together and created a collection of art. At first we called it “Rosht” and now we’re called “Berang”. We have seminars and workshops. We still do not have enough funds and we are trying to develop it more.
We have goals to enable other artists to study. There are artists who want to work but have no place to work. We’d like to have a library [available] to all artists. We have lots of ideas, and we are working towards developing contemporary art in Afghanistan and we are going to develop it more.
“Everybody is tired of wars”
Do you think that more people in Afghanistan are more aware of contemporary art because of the Internet?
I don’t know exactly. Maybe people are inspired by the Internet or are just inspired to make or study new types of artwork. I think that when people see that art has a message, they are not only thinking that it’s “art”, it [also] has something to say. Everybody likes to express their feelings through their images. Modern or contemporary art is not just an image, it has something to say.
It’s a very different situation in Afghanistan because everybody has something to say about politics and present day circumstances. Everybody is getting tired of the wars. They see an image and like to talk about it. There is a different type of topic here these days about peace and ceasefire. These are hopeful ideas that people want to develop.
Shamsia Hassani and El Mac, 'Ho Chi Minh City', 2012. Image courtesy of the artist.
Shamsia Hassani and El Mac, ‘Ho Chi Minh City’, 2012. Image courtesy the artist.
The art of politics
Are artists using their art as a way to voice their political feelings?
Yes. Not only political but other problems, such as education. Everyone wants to bring a political change with their ideas and highlight difficulties to the people. They also want to develop their art and change the way people see their art while having an effect in society with it.
How do you use street art to highlight women’s rights in Afghanistan?
This is a topic that I really like to talk about. I see that in different times and through different difficulties with war and the Taliban, the people faced lots of problems. For women, they faced many limitations because of many difficulties. In the past, women were removed from society and they wanted women to stay only at home and wanted to forget about women. Now, I want to use my paintings to remind people about women.
I have changed my images to show the strength of women, the joy of women. In my artwork, there is lots of movement. I want to show that women have returned to Afghan society with a new, stronger shape. It’s not the woman who stays at home. It’s a new woman. A woman who is full of energy, who wants to start again. You can see that in my artwork, I want to change the shape of women. I am painting them larger than life. I want to say that people look at them differently now.
Western media may see the burqa as a kind of “prison.” Can you address how you view the burqa?
There are a lot of people around the world who think that the burqa is the problem. They think that if women remove the burqa, then they have no problems. But this is not true. I feel that there are lots of problems in Afghanistan for women. For example, when women cannot have access to education; this is more of a problem then wearing a burqa. If you remove the burqa, they still have the same problems. It is not the main problem. We should not concentrate on this. We should think about the main problems, then the burqa is not so bad. You can develop your talent and still wear the burqa. You can work and stay in society and still wear the burqa.
Shamsia Hassani, 'Rote Fabrik', Switzerland, 2013. Image courtesy of the artist.
Shamsia Hassani, ‘Rote Fabrik’, Switzerland, 2013. Image courtesy the artist.
I can’t help but notice that you use the colour blue in many of your paintings. Why?
Blue is my favourite colour. I really like it. Maybe too much! I feel comfortable with that colour, and at the same time I hear people say that blue is the colour of freedom. For me, freedom is not the removal of the burqa. For me, freedom is to have peace.
Is contemporary art in Afghanistan important? Why?
Yes. People are getting tired of words [without action]. If you show them some image, it’s the same as words. The image has more effect. As you know, one word is just a word but an image, is lots of words. One image let’s us talk with others in a friendly way. We are discussing [sensitive topics] with art and we can change [old] ideas with art. We can make positive changes with art. We can open people’s minds with art.
Afghanistan is now like a new born [baby]. It is like a child, learning to walk on its own. Other countries are trying to help it stand on its own two feet.
Shamsia Hassani and El Mac, Ho Chi Minh City, 2012. Photograph by the Propeller Group.
Shamsia Hassani and El Mac, ‘Ho Chi Minh City’, 2012. Photograph by the Propeller Group.
Beyond Kabul
Do you have any plans for exchanges with artists from outside to come to Afghanistan?
Not yet because we have no money now. We are working with some proposals to get some funds and then we have lots of plans to work on.
Is it important for Afghan artists to have international recognition and opportunities? How could they be better supported?
Yes. They really like to have international programmes and do art programmes with other countries. As an artist, I like to share my ideas with others outside of Afghanistan. Some artists have this opportunity but not all of them.
I like to travel. Some artists have different reasons [to travel outside Afghanistan]. My reason is that I like to meet other people from different countries then I can change other people’s minds about Afghanistan. Afghanistan is famous because of war. If people see that there are artists and art there, then slowly perhaps we can change the topic of Afghanistan. Then people can change their image of Afghanistan. I hope so.
There is war, but behind it there is also art. We want to make the level of art higher than the level of war.
Do you have any upcoming international exhibitions or projects?
As you may know, I just returned from a trip to Switzerland. In September 2013, I will have a chance to visit Denmark because of a youth programme called “World Images in Motion”. Also because of the graffiti workshop, I will be traveling to America in October 2013. There are lots of invitations and some of them are not confirmed as they are being held at the same time. I do have some difficulties taking time off from the university because of my travel opportunities. I just try to manage it some how.
Shamsia Hassani, 'Dreaming Graffiti with Banksy', 2012. Image courtesy of the artist.
Shamsia Hassani, ‘Dreaming Graffiti with Banksy’, 2012. Image courtesy the artist.
Do you have any plans to collaborate with street artists from other countries?
I would love to connect with the artist Banksy. I have used his work for some of my “Dreaming Graffiti” work. There is a series that I call “Dreaming Graffiti in Collaboration with Banksy”. I like to use some of Banksy’s graffiti and then I paint my “Dreaming Graffiti” behind his artwork. I hope to connect and collaborate together with him some day.
Lisa Pollman
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