Iranian Artists Plead for International Support 

After a month and a half of consistent protests and state-sanctioned violence in Iran, the news cycle is beginning to lose the pulse on Iran’s coverage, prompting artists and activists to create more spaces for the public to find their inner power to assist with the revolution.

On social media, a circulating invitation encourages anyone and everyone to participate in an “International Call-In Day” tomorrow, Thursday, November 3, to inundate politicians and media outlets with reminders that the world is still watching. “The intention behind doing this all together in one day is to overwhelm the global news agencies to make sure that Iran’s situation is not forgotten,” student Sana Ebrahimi wrote in the caption of a post sharing the flyer, beneath a QR code leading visitors to a wealth of geopolitical resources and how-tos in both Farsi and English for this demonstration.

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And in New York, a protest-performance in Washington Square Park this Saturday, November 5, organized by Woman Life Freedom NYC, calls for participants to bring “a flower to mourn with us, a sign to protest with us, and a scarf to dance with us.”

It has been over a month and a half since the Islamic Republic of Iran’s morality police brutalized and murdered 22-year-old Mahsa (Zhina) Amini after her hair slipped out from beneath her hijab, sparking a nationwide and international protest on the behalf of women’s freedom. Amini’s face has become the global emblem for artists raising awareness of the contemporary Iranian revolution, and Iranian artists of the diaspora continue to draw eyes back to the Islamic Republic’s human rights atrocities by stimulating strength in numbers.

In an action at the Guggenheim, banners depicted the face of Mahsa Amini and the phrase “Woman, Life, Freedom.” (courtesy Anonymous Artists for Iran)

Last month, an anonymous collective of Iranian artists staged an action at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, releasing 12 red cascading banners printed with multiple iterations of Mahsa Amini’s face alternating with “Woman, Life, Freedom,” in Farsi and English text. And in another New York action imitating the original demonstration targeting the fountains of Tehran, anonymous artists dyed the main fountain of Manhattan’s Washington Square Park with red pigment, simulating blood in a nod to the fact that “the practice of dyeing fountains has particular importance in Iran as a method of memorializing the dead, especially the martyrs of the 1979 revolution and the 1980s Iran-Iraq war.”

Darya Kharabi, a first-generation Iranian-American artist and activist based in Pittsburgh, believes that “in every push for liberation, there is always a necessity for art.”

“Art is a form of translating imagination to reality, and imagination is that which fuels the goal of liberation,” Kharabi said. “Without the imagining of stability, dreams of safety, and fantasies of freedom, there is no hope to fight for.”

“After participating in some discourse and listening to suggestions by artists in the Iranian diaspora, I centered on one form of action people of all kinds could take: telling legislators to seize the assets of Islamic Republic officials and their families, and expel them from the country,” Kharabi said, sharing a petition she recently launched online. “To date, we’ve sent almost 200 letters, but more is always better in this case!”


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