In Honor of… is a multi-faceted project of art, literature, and performances, in remembrance of hundreds of men and women who have been taken as political prisoners in Iran in recent years. They have fought for social justice, civil liberties, and worker and environmental rights. Today, they are behind bars for wanting to speak freely, practice their faith peacefully, join a union, receive fair wages, or protect the environment. The Iranian regime, however, has continued to deny them this voice and freedom.
In Honor Of … was initiated in spring 2019 by curator/artist and CAMP Board member Shaghayegh Cyrous and produced and presented by CAMP with co-presenter Artists’ Television Access (ATA) throughout the month of October, 2019.
You can view the initial two weeks HERE.
IN HONOR OF … CLARION ALLEY MURAL PROJECT
In Honor Of … Mural by Shaghayegh Cyrous
In Honor of … a new mural that features seven women who are currently in prison in Iran. Each of the seven women in the mural is a strong advocate of various civil rights movements. It includes portraits of Nasrin Sotoudeh, a lawyer and human rights activist sentenced to 33 years in 2018 for exercising her freedom of choice; Athena Daemi, known for her child rights activism, and sentenced to seven years in 2014; Niloufar Bayani, an environmental activist arrested in 2018 with 55 others by Iranian security forces; Sepideh Gholian, a social and civil activist arrested and sexually assaulted in 2018 during a protest with labor activists; Zeinab Jalalian, an activist, was arrested in 2008 and sentenced to death, but then reduced to life in prison; Shokufe Yadollahi, one of the Gonabadi Dervishes, was arrested in 2018 along with hundreds of Dervishes, including her three children; and Azita Rafizadeh, a professor at the Baha’i University of Iran (BIHE) was arrested with her husband for teaching Baha’i students who were unable to study at Iranian universities.
A participatory Performance by Mehregan Pezeshki
Every Wednesday in the month of October, 2019 there was a performance by Mehregan Pezeshki in front of the mural In Honor Of … on Clarion Alley.
Iranian women have had a very contentious history with the Hijab, the Islamic covering often mandated by Islam to prevent the sexual arousal of men. Previously optional, this mode of dress was declared illegal in the 1930s, as Reza Shah, the ruler of Iran tried to force Western modernity on the population. After the Islamic Revolution of 1979, the pendulum swung in the other direction, with the Hijab being mandatory and strictly enforced with beatings and incarceration. Extreme punishment, however, has not dissuaded Iranian women from their fight for freedom.
In 2014 Masih Alinejad, an Iranian journalist and activist based in United States, started a movement called My Stealthy Freedom, where women were encouraged to post photos of their uncovered heads on social media. More publicly, on White Wednesdays, women would wear a white headscarf in public as a gesture of support for freedom of choice (with or without Hijab). This movement grew to draw attention to other social injustices facing the women of Iran. The government’s reaction was to crack down with further arrests and imprisonment, resulting in sentences as harsh as 24 years and many women leaving the country for a life in exile.
In this project I will use the rhythmic beatings of a percussion instrument to symbolize and draw attention to the repression of Iranian women. Audience participation will be encouraged by distributing additional instruments for the audience to accompany the performance and thus support and be the voice of Iranian Women.
This drum circle is being held every Wednesday in October from 4:00pm to 5:00pm in front the new Mural “In Honor Of…” at Clarion Alley.
Feel free to join me to show your support and appreciation of the bravery of those who put their life in danger for a change.
IN HONOR OF … at CO-PRESENTER ARTISTS’ TELEVISION ACCESS (ATA)
Window Installation: Snuggle for Survival: Hidden Faces
Performance: Hijab by Mehregan Pezeshki
Iranian women have had a very contentious history with the Hijab, the Islamic covering often mandated by Islam to prevent the sexual arousal of men. Previously optional, this mode of dress was declared illegal in the 1930s, as Reza Shah, the ruler of Iran tried to force Western modernity on the population. After the Islamic Revolution of 1979, the pendulum swung in the other direction, with the Hijab being mandatory and strictly enforced with beatings and incarceration. Although many Iranians voted for Islamic Republic, they didn’t expect to go through such intense dictatorship.
Hijab is a performance that shows how every individual got trapped by their own mistake. A woman is sewing a Chador (Islamic Uniform), then gets trapped in it and try to break free out of it.
Window Installation: Everybody was Waiting by Sholeh Asgary, Shaghayegh Cyrous, and Sahar Delijani
Sholeh Asgary, Shaghayegh Cyrous, and Sahar Delijani:
Everybody was Waiting is an audio visual installation that activates the windows of ATA into listening devices of waiting and remembrance. Viewers are invited to explore the space by pressing their ears tot the glass.
A collection of songs and poems, these voices belong to now adult children whose parents were political prisoners in the aftermath of the 1979 revolution in Iran. Some of these children were born in prison. Some have lost a parent to the mass executions of 1988. Some of them continue living in Iran. Some are in exile.
Through song and space, this installation looks into the notion of waiting for both those inside and outside of prison. Exploring the intimacy of sound and absence of presence, the windows are amplified with the voices of these children, which can be felt as well as heard. Weaving in and out, disparate but existing together, they tell a non-literal story of a still silenced experience.
Book Reading: Children of the Jacaranda Tree with conversation between author Sahar Delijani and CAMP co-director and artist Megan Wilson, accompanied by Q&A
About Children of the Jacaranda Tree:
Sold in 70 countries around the world, translated into 25 languages, hailed by Khaled Hosseini, author of And the Mountains Echoed and The Kite Runner, who calls it “a celebration of the human heart’s eternal yearning for freedom.” This is Children of the Jacaranda Tree.
Neda is born in Tehran’s Evin Prison, where her mother is allowed to nurse her for a few months before the arms of a guard appear at the cell door one day and, simply, take her away. In another part of the city, three-year-old Omid witnesses the arrests of his political activist parents from his perch at their kitchen table, yogurt dripping from his fingertips. More than twenty years after the violent, bloody purge that took place inside Tehran’s prisons, Sheida learns that her father was one of those executed, that the silent void firmly planted between her and her mother all these years was not just the sad loss that comes with death, but the anguish and the horror of murder.
These are the Children of the Jacaranda Tree. Set in post-revolutionary Iran from 1983 to 2011, this stunning debut novel follows a group of mothers, fathers, children, and lovers, some related by blood, others brought together by the tide of history that washes over their lives. Finally, years later, it is the next generation that is left with the burden of the past and their country’s tenuous future as a new wave of protest and political strife begins.
Children of the Jacaranda Tree is an evocative portrait of three generations of men and women inspired by love and poetry, burning with idealism, chasing dreams of justice and freedom. Written in Sahar Delijani’s spellbinding prose, capturing the intimate side of revolution in a country where the weight of history is all around, it is a moving tribute to anyone who has ever answered its call.