The Afghan artists who combat fear and fatality

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An exhibition is showing in the southern French city of Marseille showcasing 60 works by 11 contemporary Afghan artists. The installations, brought together under the title "Kharmohra: Art Under Fire in Afghanistan", reflect the horrors of war, terrorism, religious bigotry and the subservience imposed on women, but also the extraordinary courage of a generation of artists who refuse to be cowed. Jean-Pierre Perrin reports.

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The word kharmohra, borrowed for the title of an exhibition of contemporary works by 11 Afghan artists now showing in Marseille ("Kharmohra: Art Under Fire in Afghanistan"), is a phonetic translation from the Dari language which literally means “the stone of the donkey”. This is often oblong in form, and of a clear beige colour, and can still be found, but not without difficulty, from a few street sellers close to the Shah-Do Shamshira mosque in the centre of the Afghan capital Kabul.