Iranian American Women Put Protests at the Center of New Work

 by Justin Ebrahemi

 

 

‘The struggle continues’

For many women who grew up in Iran, subservience was inculcated at an early age. “Learning was intertwined with religious indoctrination,” says Pantea Karimi, a San Jose visual artist who left Iran in early 2001 after experiencing harassment on multiple occasions from the morality police. “I was subjected to this systematic brainwashing to make me a religious female product.”

Now, Karimi draws from her experiences in post-revolutionary Iran to create work that simultaneously celebrates and protests Iranian life. One symbol reappears: the Kaaba (or “cube” in Arabic), the most sacred Islamic site.

“Some of the women, cutting their hair, had tears in their eyes, and their hands were shaking,” Karimi recalls. “It’s a meaningful gesture, when a woman cuts her hair in solidarity.”

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