Iran. Art. Resistance.

Lecture & Exhibition

Women’s Empowerment – Live the Change, Change Lives!
June 9 to 11, 2023
Foyer of Opera House, Dortmund, Germany

As part of the campaign “Women’s Empowerment – Live the Change, Change Lives!”, an exhibition was held in the foyer of the Dortmund Opera House from June 9th to 11th, 2023. This exhibition was planned as a supporting program for the performance of “The Little Black Fish” by Justo Moret from the We Do Opera initiative.

We are proud to introduce the participating female artists of this exhibition and present the concept behind its creation. When we explored the venue, the former ticket counter of the Opera House, we came across impressive but unused display cases that had been sitting there for years. Based on this amazing discovery, we had to develop a concept to make the best use of the space. Despite a tight preparation time of only one month, we managed to design a comprehensive concept that would be integrated into the Opera House’s program.

Originally, our plan was to create a schoolyard-like setting and use the display cases as a boundary towards the street. However, after careful consideration and research, we came across Anahita’s works, which depicted women inside and emerging from display cases. These images proved to be a perfect complement to the existing display cases. Since we didn’t have walls in this space, we had to consider further aspects to create a comprehensive exhibition.

Therefore, we decided to transform the original concept of a schoolyard into a cemetery. We placed wrapped women in cotton inside the glass coffins on the floor. These works were also created by Anahita and symbolized the deceased women who paved the way to freedom for future generations of their country. The women were still in a cocoon-like state, representing the process of emerging from the cocoon, transforming into a butterfly, and attaining the freedom to fly. The women had the right to their human rights, and their hands were free to protect themselves.

The artist expresses the challenges and experiences of Iranian women in her art. She uses glass showcases as a metaphor for her personal experiences and incorporates symbolic forms, textures, and colors from Iranian painting. Through digital pencil drawings on paper, she communicates with her audience and addresses the suppression of femininity and her Iranian identity. Glass bubbles symbolize the protection of women’s personal space.


To preserve the vulnerable women and their transformation, we used large protective walls in the form of talismans with spells and protective carpets as a metaphor. Some of these spells, which were already visible in previous works by Anahita, served as safeguards during the victims’ process of development. The talismans symbolized the protection and strength available to the women. Visitors had the opportunity to walk over the spells and observe the glass graves. Many visitors showed respect and moved cautiously along the edges of the magic carpets and graves. However, some hesitated to walk over the intricately designed heels or step onto the spells, possibly out of respect for their magical power or for other reasons. It was extremely interesting to observe the reactions of people to this encounter.

Outside the cemetery, the square symbolized the street where courageous Iranian women stood without headscarves. Through Ali’s artworks, strong women who challenged prevailing paradigms were portrayed. This representation emphasized the need for fundamental changes that have been difficult for us to imagine or understand so far. The artist intentionally emphasized the necessity of gender equality to bring about this transformation. The city represented more of a symbol for prevailing mindsets rather than a vibrant urban society. The presence of women without headscarves in the city is still a challenge and illustrates that women perceive the city differently.

The two entrances of the Opera House formed the two sides of the exhibition. Visitors to the Opera House had the opportunity to enter the exhibition through both entrances before attending the evening program.

On both sides of the entrances, we placed Bardia’s panoramic image “Sense of Freedom” featuring a courageous red-haired woman, as well as our own poster, designed by our friend and designer Raban, this time with enchanted eyes. These images complemented each other both in terms of color and theme, framing the exhibition space in a mirrored format.

Outside the two entrances, we placed two monitors showing video installations by two video artists, Maryam and Ali.

The exhibition was organized within a tight schedule of approximately one month and was only available to view from June 9th to 11th. Despite the short amount of time, we were able to reach a fantastic audience and enchant the visitors with the powerful magic of Anahita’s enchantments.

The lecture took place on Sunday. We presented our project to the audience and showcased a selection of resistance artworks. Additionally, we had the privilege of introducing our esteemed jury team. We screened three short films by Iranian artists: Shabnam, Alireza, and Bardia. Furthermore, a young singer named Ava S. performed the song “The Lonely Woman” during the event.

At this exhibition the artworks by the following female and male artists were presented:
Anahita Shams: Digital artworks by Anahita were exhibited in the showcase and on the floor.
Maryam Farahzadi: Video Art “woman. Life. Freedom”
Ali Ansari: Soundtrack, Video Art & Photographies of Ali were exhibited in the showcase
Bardia Sarshar: Panorama Artwork & animation “Sense of Freedom”

Furthermore, during the lecture, we highlighted a few exceptional resistance artworks.
Shabnam Abdian: Video Art
Video Art
Ava S.: Song “The lonely woman”

Raban Ruddigkeit: #welccl poster design
Mansoureh Rahnama: Curator

We would like to express our sincere gratitude to the Gender Equality Commissioner of the City of Dortmund, the Dortmund Opera and Theatre, and the We Do Opera organization for their unwavering support. Thank you for standing alongside us and championing gender equality. Your support has been invaluable and has helped us in making a positive impact. Special

The lonely woman (The song was performed by Ava S.)
With a voiceless voice
Like a mountain, high
Like a dream, short
There was a woman, a woman
With poor hands
With deprived eyes
With tired legs
There was a woman, a woman

At night with a black coffin
Sat into her eyes
The star died
She fell to the ground
Not even her shadow remained
Never behind her
Was upset and tired
All alone

With thirsty lips
A picture of a river
Didn’t arrive to see
The drop, the drop
The drop of water
Thе drop of water

In a quiet night
In this side, and that sidе
She fell to hear
The sound, the sound
The sound of footsteps
The sound of footsteps