These images are a part of a series of polemic visuals that draw upon my personal experiences as the basis of my graphic expression and theoretical research. As a woman who was raised in Iran and as an artist who worked under harsh censorship rules of the Islamic regime, I have developed a visual language, which expresses my view of the effects of social, cultural, and political censorship on Iranian women.
In the process creation of these artifacts, the combination of disparate elements represents the different perspectives that can be used to investigate the representational dilemma of Iranian women and a variety of visual symbols; motifs and ornament were used to give images a cultural accent. The veil was symbolically used the to depict restriction and it is used as a visual element that connotes more than a physical constraint. The fact that a large group of women cover themselves just because they are forced to is another theme that is explored in this series. I present the veil as death shrouds; that smother feminine vitality. The work is intended to suggest not only the deathly oppression but also a contested symbol of Islamic religious practice based on rigid interpretation of Islamic law that demand the subjugation of women’s rights and desires in Iran.
The visual methodology developed based on a variety of artistic experience such as, studio photography, drawing, and calligraphy that were digitally manipulated and rendered for the final representation. The textual content of the project draws on poems from Frough Farorrokhzad, one of the most famous female and feminist poet in Iranian history. During her life, she transgressed many traditional boundaries. She boldly described the sexual and emotional desires of women in ways that had never before been made public. Her poems raise questions about the fairness of observed traditional cultural beliefs and their impact on women. Her poems were censored for many years after the Islamic Revolution of Iran (1979) because of their critical views to traditional and social beliefs.
I believe that visual expression plays an essential role in the promotion of social awareness; therefore, this project raises questions about the situation of Iranian women and represents an intervention, which has been forbidden in longstanding practices of censorship. The goal was to create mysterious and poetic artifacts that raise questions about the social conditions of women in Iran. The project does not intend to find solutions to the problems by depicting them; rather, my purpose is to encourage the audience to think about Iranian women. The multilayered elements that were used in the visual work reflect ongoing questions about social, cultural, traditional, and political situations that affect Iranian women’s personal and public life.