Meet the artist trying to heal Afghanistan, one mural at a time

Katie Grant@kt_grant
Saturday 05 September 2015 10:00

Setting the wheels of change in motion?

A Kabul-based artist is trying to make the Afghan city the graffiti capital of the world. Kabir Mokamel was born in Kabul but moved to Canberra, Australia, as a teenager. In 2010 the graphic designer shocked friends and colleagues when he announced he was returning to the country of his birth.

What drew him back?

Mr Mokamel said his motivation for returning was to help cultivate a return to the pre-conflict values he remembers before fleeing war.

How did he go about that?

He formed a group, named Art Lords, which uses street art to highlight social problems in Afghanistan after almost four decades of war. The blast walls that protect government buildings, businesses, and embassies are their canvas.

What kind of images do they produce?

Members of the Art Lords recently painted a group of street sweepers on a wall surrounding Afghanistan's secret service headquarters to honour Kabul's ordinary citizens. "I want people to define who really are the heroes of my city," Mr Mokamel explained. "It moves people away from the mentality of war."

Has it made an impact?

Volunteers and fans of the Art Lords' work come back day after day. One artist, Maryam Kohi, said: "These walls… make the city look like a prison… With these paintings we want to take our anti-corruption message to the people."

More: How many Afghan civilians have died in 13 years of war?

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