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.