The Afghan artists who combat fear and fatality


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.