Beyond the Veil


Born in 1990 in Kandahar, Malina Suliman is one of a small number of female artists who have emerged from war-ravaged Afghanistan. After studying Fine Art in Pakistan, Suliman was inspired by the potential of street art. When she began working as a street artist in Kandahar, her work garnered global attention. One of her most iconic motifs was the skeletal form dressed in a blue burqa which highlighted the issues of identity, inequality, and oppression in Afghanistan. As a woman using a guerrilla art form against unyielding conservatism in her country, Suliman attracted the attention of the Taliban as well as the international media. When suspected Taliban members shattered her father’s legs, her family fled to India. Suliman then moved to Holland, where she is finishing her studies.

Beyond The Veil – A Decontextualisation, created in London with the support of Art Represent, marks a new direction in the artist’s career. Bringing together, sound, video and substituting the graffiti wall for a burqa, Suliman’s decontextualisation of this highly charged item of clothing reminds us of how context can shift meaning.

From the banal to the poignant, the space is filled with the hopes and wishes of Afghans alongside a collection of international voices captured by the artist. A selection of these can be seen in Persian calligraphy on the burqas, now stripped back to their basic form as a piece of material. These are accompanied by two juxtaposing video pieces featuring burqa-clad women filmed discretely walking through the streets of Kabul and Amsterdam. In the former the item of clothing, enforced by the Taliban, is commonplace; in the latter, where a partial ban was very recently passed, the women are heavily scrutinised by passers by.

The exhibition will be on view at Art Represent from 28 May until 27 August, 2015 at Art Represent, 264 Globe Road, London E2 0JD. Opening hours are 10 am - 7pm Monday to Friday and by appointment on Saturday.

  • beyond the veil – a decontextualisation
  • malina suliman
  • afghanistan
  • street art
  • burqa
  • graffiti
  • kandahar
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