A mix of artists and activists (ArtLords) are on a mission to re-claim their city. Arming themselves with paintbrushes, the ArtLords use the many defensive walls that have sprung up around high profile buildings, due to escalating security issues, as their canvases.
By adorning the high security walls across Kabul with eye-catching graffiti images and potent messages; the group are attempting to change how the residents think about themselves, each other, their environment, and their future.
We had the chance to speak with ArtLords co-founder and renowned activist Omaid Sharifi about how the group began, the renowned painted murals and what they hope to achieve in the future.
Can you tell us more how ArtLords started and what you do?
A team of 4 friends started ArtLords in 2014. ArtLords is a grassroots art for social change movement. We aim to turn Kabul as the capital of graffiti in the world. ArtLords paints the ugly blast walls around Kabul city and all over Afghanistan. The murals have messages of anti-corruption, transitional justice, human rights and peace.
ArtLords works with school and universities and we use art a tool to change behaviours and attitudes to promote critical thinking.
The ArtLords platform is an open stage for people to voice their concern regarding pressing social issues.
What are ArtLords main objectives?
- Initiate innovative ways of problem solving (Finding solution in the heart of the problem)
- Promote critical thinking
- Peace building through mutual understanding and respect
- Reintroduce lost values that defined Afghanistan as a united & proud nation
- Foster empowerment and responsibility
To what extent do you see art as a ‘tool’ for peace building and bringing about social change?
We use the medium of visual arts for Peace building through mutual understanding and respect.
The painted murals around Kabul are particularly striking, what kind of reception have they had from the public and government?
The feedback from citizens and the government is outstanding. This is an open platform and we’ve involved over 200 people on painting each of the murals. We had Minister Generals and street kids painting with us. They feel they have the ownership and it is their own graffiti.
Have you got any future projects / plans lined up?
We are reaching out to other provinces of Afghanistan and also starting a cultural exchange program with our neighbours and other countries.
– Harry Dougall
For more information: https://twitter.com/artlordsworld
Also check out our ArtLords Curated Collection on the app: https://appsto.re/gb/YTCQ-.i