Zehra Doğan, an exiled Kurdish artist and journalist, went viral on Twitter Monday after staging a performance in which she smeared blood on the Iranian Embassy in Berlin. The performance, she said, was staged in solidarity with Iranian women protesting the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old from the Kurdish city of Saqqez.
In video of the protest performance that Doğan posted to social media, she lathers a mixture of what she described as hair, henna, and menstrual blood on a gate near the embassy. Two policemen arrive, and one quickly hauls her away. The tweet with the video has received almost 2,000 likes.
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According to the Art Newspaper, Doğan was briefly detained and has since been released from custody. “They have not given any punishment now, but later on the Iranian consulate may demand a fine for damaging the property,” a spokesperson for Doğan told the publication.
On Twitter, the artist wrote, “We are in front of them with what they curse; menstrual blood, henna and hair. We are not alone, we are everywhere!”
She also said that Ulaş Yunus Tosun, the journalist who filmed her performance, had been detained and later released from custody.
Amini died on September 16 in Tehran. She had been arrested by the Iranian “morality police,” allegedly for failing to follow the country’s dress code for women.
Police in the country have claimed that Amini died of a heart attack after being taken into custody for her “immodest clothing.” Her family has disputed the police’s narrative, saying that she was beaten in a detention facility. (That facility, according to Al-Jazeera, was a “re-education center” where women are taught how to obey the dress code.) The police have denied the family’s claims.
Amini’s death has touched off a wave of protests in Iran. Some in the country have captured videos that appear to show instances of police violence in which protesters are beaten and sprayed with tear gas.
The protests have gained international attention, and many artists across the globe have been watching them closely. Shirin Neshat, an Iranian-born artist who is based in New York, told Artnet News, “These protests are unprecedented in Iranian history and I believe it could lead to change, and yet the government is using every possible way to suppress this movement through violence and aggression.”
Within Turkey, where she was born, Doğan is well-known for her activism and her art, which she has used to protest the oppression of Kurdish people and women. In 2017, she was imprisoned for making a painting that explicitly represented the destruction wrought by Turkish forces in the Kurdish town of Nusaybin. She was released after serving a sentence that lasted almost three years.