Installation Shots from A Shadow in the Depth of Light
Gibbs Street Gallery, VisArts, Rockville, MD
The exhibition A Shadow in the Depth of Light pays tribute to the Woman Life Freedom protests in Iran, which began in September 2022 after the murder of Mahsa (Jina) Amini by the morality police in Iran. The protesters have been demanding freedom, dignity, and equality for women, but the Iranian government has responded with brutal force, shooting, beating many, including children, and arresting nearly twenty thousand people. Many artists, poets, lawyers, athletes, and activists have been imprisoned simply for speaking out. The uprising has stirred up poignant memories of my own experiences growing up as a woman in Iran, struggling to cope with the restrictions that relegated us to second-class citizens, as well as the personal encounters with the morality police and the ensuing trauma. While the news of the uprising has given hope for change and a better future, the violence and brutality of the government have been devastating to witness.
This exhibition brings attention to the human rights violations and the courageous women behind the Woman Life Freedom protests in Iran. A Shadow in the Depth of Light features a dynamic installation that includes sculptures, hair, vinyl installation on windows, and elements of light and shadow. Upon entering the exhibition, viewers will be confronted with hundreds of 3D-printed hands, each bearing the name of a victim of the government crackdown. These individuals are protestors who have been imprisoned, tortured, or killed in their quest for freedom and equality. Each sculpture represents a human being who has made the ultimate sacrifice for the cause of justice. Positioned on reflective surfaces, the hands appear to emerge from the ground, prompting viewers to interact with them closely. The reflective surfaces also allow viewers to see their own reflections, suggesting that the world is observing these human rights violations. Through this installation, my aim is to honor the victims’ memory, raise awareness about the ongoing struggle for human rights, and remind viewers of the importance of speaking out against injustice.
The installation features an addition to the sculptures: pieces of cut synthetic hair, arranged in braids and various forms, hanging from the walls above. This hair serves as a poignant reminder of the bravery and resilience of the women who have taken part in the Woman Life Freedom protests. Following the murder of Mahsa Amini, many women in Iran have been cutting off their hair as a symbolic act of protest against the oppressive laws that regulate women’s bodies, and the government’s brutal response to peaceful demonstrations. In the context of the exhibition, the hair represents a symbol of resistance against the government’s enforcement of mandatory hijab, which takes away women’s right to choose how they dress and express themselves. Through the inclusion of these braids and locks of hair, the exhibition brings to light the oppression faced by women in Iran and honors the courage and strength of those who continue to fight for their rights and freedom.