Afghan artist questions “patriarchal war” in Lyon

This November, Afghan visual artist Kubra Khademi is in residence at the New Generation Theater in Lyon. A loyal artist had to leave his country after performances that were considered sulphurous. A meeting with a woman committed against the Taliban regime.

It’s a very quick transition in the city, time to prepare your accommodation. This afternoon at the end of October, Afghan artist Kubra Khademi took a break in the Atelier building (at Lyon 2), the hall of the New Generation Theater on the peninsula. During November he is working on a new job in Lyon. For this he mobilizes religious and historical texts and the 7th century poetry of his country: Afghanistan. The country he had to leave seven years ago.

Only 33 years old, Kubra Khadami quickly takes on the stern face of a man who has already lived several lifetimes. The visual artist, hated by the Taliban regime, had to leave his country in 2015, long before their arrival. For good reason, his art has always been restless.

“Women’s bodies have always been highly politicized in Afghanistan, as everywhere else,” she says only in explanation.

His art intersects with two major issues that plague Afghan society: patriarchy and war. For a long time, his speeches in Afghanistan tried to mobilize on these issues. In 2013, he blocked the highway at the entrance to Kabul with a truck he had created as a bedroom. Purpose: to show the scene of everyday life. A simple 40-minute “stop” in the lives of Afghan drivers to bring them back to everyday life and out of the armed conflict.

“War takes the lives of citizens,” he said. The idea was to prevent that. »

“There was no serious change. The country has changed, but not me,” he comments.

Since his departure, he has remained constantly connected with news from Afghanistan. He receives information through social networks or relatives staying there. That’s how he watched the Taliban’s “horrific, inhuman” rise to power last year. His family had already fled them in the 1980s. Being part of the Hazaras, he and his family have always been a privileged target for the Taliban. Like 30 years ago, they had to go into exile.

“The war remains in our psyche. In fact, it remains in our artistic expression”

The artist, who is a deep feminist, believes that she has a responsibility: to tell and show what is happening in her country. There, women are not only the first victims of the Taliban, but also their first enemies.

For him, there is no doubt that women are the solution to many conflicts in Afghanistan. He does not trust the former Afghan government, which is “50% responsible for the situation,” nor the United States, which is there to “serve its own interests.” According to him, the correct answer will be given by the “girls” who were killed by the regime on the spot.

“There is resistance from women there. But they can’t do anything without guns,” he sighs.

Afghan artist in Lyon: women as conflict resolution

On his scale, the artist tries to attract women politicians. He wrote a letter to Angela Merkel to be aware of the situation.

“I asked her to come as a feminist to save the thousands of women and children living in our area,” she says.

In France, she is fighting for avenues to be renamed after women. In January, she replaced four plaques on the driveway of Commander Masood, a high-profile symbol of the Afghan resistance in the late 1990s, with plaques bearing the names of forgotten feminist activists.

“In this country [la France], we always talk about Massoud, usually shouts the one who lives in Paris. But where are the women? »

Frozan Saafi (killed by the Taliban), Fowzia Wahdat, Hoda Khamooch, Rokhshana Rezai… These heroes have names. Some have been assassinated, some are still leading the struggle from within. For Kubra, it’s about making their voices heard, like the voices of struggling women in Iran. A “powerful and inspiring” revolution among Iran’s neighbors for an activist who expects these battles to be recognized at their fair value. At least symbolically.

Why not, for example, name a street in Lyon after an Afghan fighter? There would be a place in the capital of the Gauls, where less than one in 15 streets are named after a woman. At a time when the environmental crowd has vowed to right this wrong, the idea may hold ground.

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