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  • Writer's pictureNasrin Golden

Contemporary feminist voices - Iranian Diaspora

Updated: Aug 13, 2021

In an Iranian city, the presence of a woman in the public space without the chador is not accepted, leading to arrest. Similarly, in the Arab world, women are often required to cover with a hejab when on the streets. An artist from Iranian descent, Nasrin Golden (Tehran, 1980), has, after leaving her natal country to Malaysia, started reflecting on her former situation.

On a concrete criticism to restrictions concerning women in Iranian society, Nasrin covered her face with a burka and veiled herself to the camera. The challenging atti- tude captured shows a woman’s rebellion against conformity and the artist’s idea on «how she should think, act and look» within that repressive environment. The freedom desired will be obtained «through inner change, as [a woman] begins to think and act in a different way»5. The message the artist conveys represents conflicting values between the individual and the society she is inserted.

Nasrin notes that «everyone suffers in Iran», where societal norms trap people’s life. In the work Outside the Box (2010) the artist photographs herself inside the house, par excellence the place of women’s dreams. This woman seeks to break free from repres- sive and man-made constructs, which are «represented in the metaphor of the box»7she penetrates into. Due to her ability to personify these situations, she performs, by depicting herself inside the house fridge – closely related to the sphere of domesticity –, or on top of a bed structure – the structure of coupling, where women many times lie in a position of subservience.

The stereotyped woman wears a white dress – a paradoxical element on Iranian feminism. In this society, the white dress refers simultaneously to two significant life entries related to a woman’s domestic life: marriage and death. The myth of the ‘scary bride’ emerged from these stories, of the introduction of women in married life – one where purity and faithfulness rule – and the after life. With this performance, the artist not only narrates a story, which was transmitted by her elders, but also penetrates the sphere of women’s fears and limitations. Equally, in this work, Nasrin manages to pen- etrate the distresses of Western women: the same white dress signifies the-bride-to-be and the anxieties of not having accomplished this fantasy. The ‘scary bride’ is translat- able into ‘the Cinderella’. Leonor Viega

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