Art People

Shirin Neshat, Hank Willis Thomas, Sheida Soleimani, and More Call For 'Eyes on Iran'

Woman Life Freedom, Flying Eyes over New York with Statue of Liberty, by Mahvash Mostala, 2022.
Mahvash Mostala, Woman Life Freedom, Flying Eyes (installation shot), 2022. Photography by Austin Paz. Image courtesy of the artist and Woman, Life, Freedom.

It feels so personal, as if a member of your own family is about to be killed,” Shirin Neshat says after hearing the news that another young protester is set to be executed in Iran. The artist, who left her hometown of Qazvin at the age of 17—five years before the 1979 Iranian revolution—is known for photography and film that reflect her lived experience, oftentimes with Iranian figures as the canvases of religious text. But these days she isn’t touting her work, she’s trying to reconcile the gravity of revolution in her home country once again. Pained, Neshat discusses the Iranian regime’s methods to paralyze international action by imposing a sense of defeat. The cadence of her voice changes as she describes an image of an Iranian woman unveiling in front of a revolutionary guard. “Standing eye-to-eye,” she continues. “It speaks volumes about how brave these women are.” Neshat insists we all have a responsibility to counter that with instances of hope. It’s why she joined a team of artist-activists including, Sheida Soleimani, Aphrodite Désirée Navab, Mahvash Mostala, Shirin Towfiq, Hank Willis Thomas, and JR for a campaign entitled Eyes on Iran. Echoing the calls from the women on the ground, the series of art installations signify the support of a free and democratic Iran.

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