iranian artist

Last year, Atena Farghadani drew a political cartoon depicting members of Iranian parliament as animals to protest a draft law that would limit access to birth control. Now, this Iranian-born artist is being imprisoned for 12 years and went on hunger strike for two weeks before suffering a heart attack earlier this year. This girl is a bonafide badass… a true superhero!

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Newsha TAVAKOLIAN, Listen

“Imagine a dream. Eyes closed, mouths open, as if in a dream. Standing facing us with their backs to the darkness, they sing, soundless; they have been standing here, singing for themselves for a long time, imagining us, hearing. Standing, facing days of tedium, facing a world that has adorned them with a false crown. Standing, waiting”.

For Listen, a project inspired by Newsha Tavakolian’s childhood dream to become a singer, she made six studio portraits of professional women singers, who are not allowed to sing solo, perform in public or produce CD’s in Iran because of Islamic tenets.

Inspired by her feelings about her society, she made six extra images, which are also imaginary album covers with titles for the singers. As a statement, the CD cases are left empty. The works are accompanied by a video installation with silent clips of the women singers performing.

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Photographic work coming out of Iran isn’t necessarily a rarity. But the vast majority of the work is either focused on political photo ops or, when it tries to go beyond that, depictions of anti-Western sentiments (billboards) or just street scenes filled with veiled women or men drinking tea and smoking hookahs. Francesca Manolino’s work is different, though. It is quiet, intimate and poetic. She traveled to Iran and went beyond the usual things we see. In Sight spoke to Manolino to find out how she did this.

Manolino said she was inspired to go to Iran some 10 years ago after seeing the movie “Persepolis.” In college, she studied anthropology, and Farsi calligraphy began to fascinate her. Later, when she was studying for a master’s degree in photography, she became enraptured by the work of the Iranian visual artist, Shirin Neshat. Fast-forward to last year when Manolino began following some Iranian photographers on Instagram.

See more: These stunningly beautiful photos show what ordinary life in Iran is like

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The Calendar Woman for 19th November is Monir Farmanfarmaian (born 1924)

Monir Farmanfarmaian is a prominent contemporary Iranian artist who lives in Tehran and collector of traditional folk art. Though she studied and worked for several years as a fashion illustrator in New York, Monir returned to Iran in 1957 and was inspired by tribal and folk art which prompted her redirect her artistic development to coincide with this Persian inspiration. Her new focus, inspired by a visit to the Shah Cheragh mosque in Shiraz, was mirror mosaics, created by cutting up mirrors and glass paintings that are later reformed.

A visit to New York to visit friends in 1979 stranded Monir in exile during the Iranian Revolution and though she attempted to continue with her mirror mosaics, the limit resources available in America forced her to develop other aspects of her art. For the years she was in exile, she focused on commissions, textile designs, and drawings before returning once again to Iran in 1992, where she continues to work and live. Monir is credited as ‘the first modern artist to achieve an artistic practice that weds the geometric patterns and cut-glass mosaic techniques of her Iranian heritage with the rhythms of modern Western geometric abstraction’.