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I speak of the extremity of night

I speak of the extrimity of darkness

and of the extremity of night.

If you come to my house, O kind one, bring for me a lamp

and a window theorugh which to look upon 

the happy swarming street.

-Forugh Farrokhzad, The Gift

In “Through the Window,” I explore central concepts of the body as home, home as shelter, and the window as a connection between public and private spheres. This project explores themes established in my earlier work regarding issues of censorship and the body, particularly women’s bodies. It responds to my own personal experiences, whether in the government censorship rampant in Iran, my native country, or in the subtle, everyday forms of silencing and erasure that I have encountered in the United States. In these pieces, the steel frames represent windows while the canvas is a curtain: more specifically, a purdah. In Farsi, the word purdah has several meanings beyond a window curtain; for instance, as a verb, one can say "lifting the purdah'' to mean revealing the truth. As a noun, purdah is frequently used as a metaphor for virginity or the state of being immaculate, or more literally, it means a woman's hymen.

I was raised in an enormous apartment complex in west Tehran, called Shahrak Ekbatan. The Ekbatan, which has over 15,000 units, was built in 1975 to accommodate growing housing needs. It was designed by two Iranians, Rahman Golzar and Architect Dr. Fereidoun Azari, and an American architect named Jordan Gruzen, and entirely built by an American company named Starrett. My family moved to Shahrak Ekbatan from a small town an hour away from Tehran when I was 4. The area felt so labyrinthine that my siblings and I were afraid to go outside alone, in case we got lost. We lived on the fifth of twelve floors of the apartment and passed the time by looking out the window and watching everyone go about their life. I still have dreams of looking through those windows.

In 2023, when the Women Life Freedom movement began in Iran, Shahrak Ekbatan was one of the most active places of protest. Those residents who didn’t want or need to leave simply remained by their windows, protesting from their homes. It was painful for me to watch the movement from here in the United States, so far from the action, when I wanted to be in the streets with the others. All I can do is bring all the spirit of resistance to my paintings. In these paintings, I’m thinking about the tension between being visible/invisible, silent/chanting, indoor/outdoor, resilient/oppressed, and all those diametrically opposed concepts which shaped me as an Iranian woman who was born after the Revolution, and who moved to a country equally composed of opposites.

Insallation / Sculpture

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