Artistic encounters
in war and violent conflict

Monirah Hashemi

Monirah Hashemi Visual Artist / Performing Artist / Writer

Monirah is an artist from Afghanistan known for her roles as an actress, director, and playwright, she works around addressing social issues, preserving culture, and empowering women as storytellers

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Monirah Hashemi
Visual Artist /Performing Artist /Writer

Monirah is an actress, director and playwright. In 2005, she co-founded Simorgh Film Association of Culture and Art in Herat, Afghanistan, with a primary focus on utilizing film and theater as platforms to address social issues. She is also a co-founder of A Night With Buddha Festival, an event that was launched on March 11, 2013, in Bamiyan Valley, Afghanistan. The festival's core purpose is to facilitate discussions about preserving culture, both tangible and intangible heritage, with a particular emphasis on women as the primary narrators and storytellers.

Monirah's latest work is a trilogy titled "The Tale of The Stars," consisting of "Sitaraha / The Stars," followed by "Who Lights The Stars?" and "As The Stars Fall." This trilogy delves into the narratives of women, allowing them to share their lived experiences in their own voices and from their own memories of body and mind. Each play unfolds the unique experiences of different women as they navigate daily violence and war in various historical periods of Afghanistan.

My birth in Mashhad, Iran, around 30 days into the new year of 1986, was to a religious Afghan family. Due to certain reasons, my early years were marked by constant movement, from one village, region, city, and country to another. It was during this nomadic childhood that I began to comprehend the unique experiences that come with being a female.

The experience of bodies which are vast and diverse, yet oddly similar.

In late 2003, my path led me back to Afghanistan, a destiny that awaited challenge and change. It was here that I came to understand that our destiny is not preordained on the day of our birth, etched in the fabric of the universe or in the recesses of the human mind. Instead, it evolves with us, growing and changing like the course of a river. We are the authors of our own destinies, rewriting them with each breath we take.

I recall a mother's wisdom, passed down through generations, urging her daughter “... to be patient, yet vigilant. Each day unfolds at its own pace; hour, minute, second and time," she used to say. As they traversed mountains and deserts together, the mother's grip was firm, a symbol of strength. "Moving from one pillar of life to another takes time and strength," she always reminded herself. "No matter how much time you have, it means little if you do not have the energy to move your body and soul from one breath to the next breath. No amount of energy matters if you do not have the time to run from one second to the next second. 

My mother imparted a similar lesson: survival strategy. Something I learned to practice through art and storytelling.

I'm passionate about storytelling, especially the narratives of people's real-life experiences. I start from my own community and culture and focus on the voices and stories that often go unheard.

If we look at any society, we can see the influence of patriarchy at various levels. This system introduces structures and restrictions, with one gender having more privileges, freedom, and opportunities, while the other faces limitations.

Monirah investigates how these experiences are included or excluded from our conversations. This includes issues like gender divisions and restrictions. She is particularly interested in understanding how patriarchal systems work to suppress women's life stories and control the overall narrative.

Monirah further explores how patriarchy leverages religion, knowledge, culture, and tradition to maintain control in society. She maintains the importance of recognizing that controlling the narrative also means controlling the potential for change; when individuals share their stories, they reveal the resilience and power hidden of those trying to break free from these constraints.

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