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.
Shirin Neshat, Hank Willis Thomas, Sheida Soleimani, and More Call For 'Eyes on Iran'
Earlier this fall, artist-led collective For Freedoms and Vital Voices launched a solidarity campaign to raise awareness around the Iranian revolution. As the United Nations makes a pivotal vote today on Iran’s position on the Commission on the Status of Women, the artists speak to CULTURED about the importance of the project that combines policy with public art.