The Burqa Issue. OF NOTE Magazine. 2016 The Burqa Issue. OF NOTE magazine. 2016 - Page 22

The woman in many of her pieces seems to be an avatar of Hassani herself. “The woman in [much of ] my work is like a character in a film. She is the main character of my movie,” she says. Her “main character” dons a burqa sometimes and not others. She is somber in her reflection of her surroundings in some pieces and celebrates the vivid beauty of her culture, heritage and city in others. Hassani does not wear a burqa on a day to day basis (Kabul is a more progressive city). However, when family visits from the more conservative city of Kandahar, she will wear a burqa to take pictures with them. She explains that some Afghani women Rajul Punjabi feel more comfortable in the burqa and are able to accomplish more. “People cannot see [the women] when they wear a burqa, but the women can see everybody.” While the burqa is often seen as oppressive, “It is not a cage, like people think it is,” she says. In her work as a whole, Hassani strives to reveal the woman under the burqa. She believes that freedom is not necessarily to shed the burqa, because if a woman takes it off she would still have problems with inequality. But for this artist, to graffiti the burqa on the walls of Kabul is to raise inquiry about what liberation means. Rajul Punjabi is a journalist and an adjunct instructor at City College of New York. With over seven years of magazine experience, Punjabi has written extensively about hip hop music and culture, race, social justice, art and gender. Her byline has appeared in The New York Daily News, Playboy, VIBE, GIANT, The Village Voice, and on Billboard.com and AOL’s The Boombox. You can fi nd her on Twitter @rajulpunjabi. (Photo: Shimeah Davis) Painted images from the “Dreaming Graffiti” collection. © Shamsia Hassani, 2012. Courtesy of the artist. 22 OF NOTE 23 OF NOTE