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Woman Life Freedom event shows solidarity with Iranians through art

January 23, 2023
<p><span style="background-color: rgb(248, 248, 248); color: rgb(29, 28, 29);">Programs from the "Woman Life Freedom" event at the Broad Art Museum. Each program cover was painted by Iranian artists, depicting struggle and solidarity in Iran. </span></p>

Programs from the "Woman Life Freedom" event at the Broad Art Museum. Each program cover was painted by Iranian artists, depicting struggle and solidarity in Iran.

Over 100 members of the MSU community gathered to show solidarity with the people of Iran Friday at the Broad Art Museum. The event, called “Woman Life Freedom,” included music and performance art which expressed the sentiments of the Iranian people under the oppressive regime. 

The event was organized by assistant professor of graphic design Parisa Ghaderi, who felt it was her duty to show solidarity with the people in her home country.  

“(This is important to me) because first, I'm a woman, second, I'm from Iran,” Ghaderi said. “I’m just trying to pay my dues as a fellow citizen, but I think this is important because we're not there. We're not fighting with them, and I think that … this is the smallest action that we can take in order to amplify their struggle, their protest. They are not voiceless, but they need to be heard.” 

As an artist, Ghaderi decided art and performance would be most effective in creating an “outlet for this outrage.” 

“I think that I'm an artist, and that's my superpower,” Ghaderi said. “So I thought that maybe because we are bombarded by all the news, and all these statistics about what has happened, all these horrific stories that are coming out — I thought maybe this could be a nice visual representation of what's happening, and it could be more effective and impactful because sometimes seeing is stronger than reading, and it stays with you and people can relate.”

The art showcased at the event included traditional Iranian music played on Iranian instruments and orchestral instruments, as well as an interpretative dance. One of the musicians was associate professor of mechanical engineering Mohsen Zayernouri.

Zayernouri said the event was important because it was an opportunity to create a conversation about human rights breaches in Iran. He said these honest conversations among Iranians, international students and people from the U.S. were the most important part of the project. 

“Perhaps the most important goal of the whole project is to have another way of communication, not through the media, not through the propaganda of the regime, but rather to be heard as ordinary people of Iran who are now living here,” Zayernouri said.

Zayernouri said he was especially compelled to have these conversations because he is also from Iran. Now that he lives in the U.S., Zayernouri said he has the freedom to speak, while Iranians at home are silenced. And, he said the most effective way for him to speak is through art. 

Zayernouri was also involved in selecting the music, which was chosen based on the feelings of sorrow and energy in each piece. He felt that by selecting this music, he could narrate the Iranian struggle most accurately. 

Many audience members enjoyed the selected music, including mechanical engineering PhD student Kian Kalan, an Iranian audience member. Kalan was moved by the image of fighting back against the oppressor.

“I was crying,” Kalan said. “The performances were really, really successful in transferring the message of pain and anger and just being brave under difficult circumstances and difficult times. I was really touched and moved by all of (the dancers’) small movements.”

This reaction is exactly what Ghaderi hoped the event would evoke. After the final performance, Ghaderi said her mission as an artist was accomplished, and she was also inspired to continue her work. 

“I hope that we can see the peace coming,” Ghaderi said. “Not only Iran, but all the countries who are struggling, and they're fighting for their freedom. I think until that day, we have to keep this momentum going, and we have to keep moving forward.” 

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