Woman, Life, Freedom: An Archive of Defiance

The notion of ‘explosion’ elucidates the burst of aesthetic resistance in Iran. In September 2022 the state murder of a 22-year-old Jina Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish woman, inflamed Iran. Jina was arrested by the ‘guidance patrol’, a security force signifying the multifaceted state machinery of violence. She was accused of wearing her veil improperly. It is conceivable to unpack layers of more than four decades of deep grievances of a nation in the headline news of Jina’s death. The spontaneous revolt of people in Iran, led by young women and followed by instantaneous solidarity actions across the Middle East and the world, have intensely captured the imagination of artists and activists.

The ‘explosion’ in the production of digital resistance art, inside and outside of Iran, to express rage, pain, fear, hope, defiance, though decisively demanding justice, freedom, and democracy, is unparalleled in any other revolt in Iran. This is significant in particular when we consider this extraordinary level of creativity within a short period of time. Artists/activists using different medium of illustrations, photography, multimedia performances, animations, graphic designs, short films, poetry, rap, choirs, and music, are all engaged with this revolt and use their art to give visual and performative meaning to Woman, Life, Freedom.

This archive intends to create an aesthetically inspired resource for transnational feminist revolutionary pedagogy. Selected visual materials representing Woman, Life, Freedom are curated in this archive.

Most of the artistic materials are produced by both un-known and well-established artists. They are often circulated in popular social media platforms such as Twitter, TikTok, WhatsApp, Instagram, Telegram, or YouTube. To navigate these platforms and select relevant materials for teaching, presentation, or overall pedagogical purposes is not easy. In this archive, these resources are organized based on the art forms, and where necessary a brief description of the content, artist names, place, date, and time is provided.

Revolutionary feminist ‘defiance’ constitutes the core theoretical, political, and pedagogical anchor of this archiving and curating art project.

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