By Sara Barnes on October 28, 2020
In Afghanistan, there are a number of deserted war tanks, stationed as a constant reminder of combat and violent conflicts. Luckily, Iranian artist Neda Taiyebi has stepped in and is finding another use for them. She has reimagined the abandoned vessels in Kabul, Afghanistan by adorning them with colorful motifs including fruits and flowers, as well as swirling geometric designs. The immobilized Soviet-era vehicles are covered from top to bottom in art, and their appearance offers a stark contrast to the surrounding landscape of dusty plains. The joyful artwork evokes a sense of play and invites kids to climb atop of them like a jungle gym.
Taiyebi moved to Kabul from Tehran in 2015 with the intention of starting an art magazine. But once she got there, she realized that there was little opportunity to make that happen. She then decided to address the tanks that occupied the landscape. “In Kabul, you cannot find any place to sit and just enjoy, just for your eyes’ pleasure,” Taiyebi said at the time. She decorated the tanks with colorful things she saw in Kabul—the fruit carts and flower shops.
The obvious interpretation of Taiyebi’s painting is a political one, but she insists that she is “no activist, no voice of the oppressed,” and that her reason for decorating the vehicles is a practical one. Simply, there are very few areas for children to have fun and be kids; her public art is offering them a place to do so. And in her lively, optimistic artwork, they might imagine a bright future, too.
Iranian artist Neda Taiyebi has reimagined Soviet-era tanks in Kabul, Afghanistan with brightly painted designs that add some optimistic color to the dusty landscape.
Learn more about Taiyebi’s work in the short video below:
All images via Imgur unless otherwise noted.
Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met and Manager of My Modern Met Store. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled ‘Embroidered Life’ that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.Read all posts from Sara Barnes