Eleven girls use their pens, paints and voices to share their memories and experiences since the Taliban took power in 2021 and offer their hopes and dreams for a better future.

Eleven girls
With our hearts full of hope and desire.
With tears in our eyes and trembling legs, with no way to escape.
We are sitting in our bedrooms in Afghanistan and slowly dying.
Every time we rise to show ourselves, our legs are showered with bullets.
Eleven girls who only ask to be allowed to study, to travel, to let our hair fly in the wind and, from all the riches in this world, own a bicycle. Is it too much to ask? Is it too much if I want to become a psychologist? Or a painter?
Too much if I want to fall in love and have my heart broken? Too much if I prefer freedom over longing?
What it my hair turns grey, and my lips are never kissed?
We never wanted our share of the sky to simply be able to gaze at the moon from our bedroom windows.
I want to swim in the sky. Do I want too much?
Eleven brave warriors, standing against the Taliban’s oppression with our pens, art, poetry, and music.
Ay Kash is the voice of a nation sleeping in blood, the voice of a wounded geography.
Don’t let our desire to swim in the sky, rot in our hearts.
Don’t let the desire to take hold of our pen and fight, disappear.
#StandwithAfghanwomen #ThePeninsteadoftheGun
Text: S
Photo: Rhea Schmitt / Design: F

Since the withdrawal of the US in August 2021, the situation for women in Afghanistan has spiralled into despair. Women do not even have rights to be violated. They have lost the ability to learn, graduate, fall in love, travel alone, go for a walk in the park, or ride a bicycle. Ay Kash / ای کاش / If Only is a hybrid performance featuring live on-stage action and filmed “interaction” with eleven young women in Kabul & Herat, Afghanistan. Their true identities will remain hidden because it is simply too dangerous to do otherwise, but what they want to tell you will be given life and poetic space. And they want to tell you many things: they want to tell you the history of their country from their perspective, their personal stories since the Taliban have taken power, the stories of their mothers, their grandmothers and their hopes and dreams for the future. All this and more will burst into life with the help of song, object theater, storytelling and AI. The performance also features animations designed to protect the identities of the eleven young women by Berlin artist Anna Benner. In addition to the live performance, there is a touring exhibition featuring artwork, texts and soundscapes by the young women.

Under the Starry Afghan Sky are eleven young women aged between 15 – 23 living in Kabul & Heart, Afghanistan under Taliban rule. The collective evolved out of the work of Herat Online School founded by the educational activist Angela Ghayour who herself fled Afghanistan in 1992 and is facilitated by Rachel Karafistan of Cosmino Productions.

The Ay Kash / ای کاش / If Only exhibition featuring artwork, soundscapes and audio recorded by the young women from the Under the Starry Sky collective will take place at Graumaleri, Reuterstraße 82, 12053 Berlin from September 7 – 20. (Vernissage: September 7 at 7pm).

The project is entirely funded by public donations. You can donate to our project HERE.


  • Thurs, September 14, 2023 | 8pmMain Stage
  • with 2 additional performances until Sep 16th

Under the Starry Afghan Sky collective
in collaboration with Cosmino Productions