Art as Activism Exhibit "Eyes on Iran" Opens with Sec. Hillary Clinton, a Performance by Grammy winner Jon Batiste, Iranian Artists, Activists and more
New York City — November 28, 2022 — Sec. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Vital Voices President & CEO Alyse Nelson, and Vital Voices Board Member Zainab Salbi, alongside Iranian artists Sheida Soleimani, Aphrodite Désirée Navab, Z, Icy and Sot, Shirin Neshat, Mahvash Mostala, Sepideh Mehraban, and Shirin Towfiq, with artists Hank Willis Thomas and JR, activate New York’s FDR Four Freedoms State Park with a provocative multi-day and multi-media art installation facing the United Nations entitled Eyes on Iran, November 28, 2022 – January 1, 2023.
Timed for the U.N. initiative, 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, the installations are focused on the power of collective sight, with eyes facing the U.N., signifying the world’s eyes on Iran. ‘Eyes in the Sky’ flying billboards featuring artworks by Thomas and Mostala will fly on December 3 in New York City and on November 28 and 30 in Miami. An interactive installation by artist JR will take place on December 4. Eyes on Iran aims to amplify the mission of Woman, Life, Freedom, a campaign demanding that the Islamic Republic of Iran is removed from the Commission on the Status of Women.
The New York installation was unveiled at an event featuring the former U.S. Secretary of State and Vital Voices cofounder (Clinton), Human Rights Lawyer and Director of the Strategic Litigation Project at the Atlantic Council Gissou Nia, artists Sheida Soleimani and Shirin Neshat, actor and singer Sepideh Moafi and more at FDR Four Freedoms State Park with a performance by Grammy award-winner Jon Batiste and Iranian Musician Mehrnam Rastegari.
“We are calling on the world to take more action, starting at the United Nations. We must remove Iran from the U.N.’s Commission on the Status of Women. The fact that Iran is a member is a bitter irony,” said Clinton. “What we are seeing is a revolution led by young women who are just not willing to live with the loss of freedom being imposed upon them.”
November 28 is significant because it is the anniversary of the 1943 Tehran Conference where Allied leaders, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin met in Tehran to coordinate the Allied military strategy and also stated a shared desire for the maintenance of the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Iran. Today, Woman, Life, Freedom shares the call for human rights for the people of Iran.
“The world’s eyes have been focused on the courage of Iranian citizens in their quest for freedom, in the face of increasingly grave danger,” said Nazanin Afshin-Jam Mackay, a human rights activist of Iranian descent. “The Islamic Republic has censored them and attempted to blind the world to the potential of this movement. Eyes on Iran is our response to their call for a free Iran.”
“When we say that we must keep our ‘Eyes on Iran,’ we mean that what is happening deserves not only our attention, but our vision. In solidarity with the courageous Iranians who are risking their lives to express their human rights, many artists throughout the diaspora and beyond are bringing our vision to bear to ensure international audiences and institutions remain aware of what is happening in Iran, in their eyes and in their hearts, and feel moved to respond,” said artist Shirin Neshat.
An interactive installation by artist JR will take place on December 4 at FDR Four Freedoms State Park. Eyes on Iran aims to amplify the mission of Woman, Life, Freedom, a campaign demanding that the Islamic Republic of Iran is removed from the Commission on the Status of Women. Additional artists featured online include Emily Elise, Mahdis Nikou, Priscillia Kounkou Hoveydam, Ernesto Yerena, Hourdad, Golnar Adili, and Anonymous Artists.
In October, the campaign published an open letter in The New York Times with a petition signed by women leaders from more than 14 countries, including Clinton, demanding the U.N. Member States remove the Islamic Republic of Iran from the Commission on the Status of Women. Within days, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand, Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, and Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly, along with nearly 100,000 others, signed the petition.
The Woman, Life, Freedom campaign is a partnership between artist collective For Freedoms, a coalition of Iranian women leaders and Vital Voices Global Partnership, a non-profit elevating women leaders.
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Vital Voices Global Partnership celebrates 25 years of directly investing in more than 20,000 women leaders across 184 countries since 1997. Driven by the universal truth that women are the key to progress in their communities and nations cannot move forward without women in leadership positions, Vital Voices has provided early support for leaders who went on to become Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, U.S. Youth Poet Laureates, prime ministers, award-winning innovators, pioneering human rights defenders, and breakthrough social entrepreneurs. www.vitalvoices.org
For Freedoms is an artist collective that centers art and creativity as a catalyst for transformative connection and collective liberation. By wielding the power of art, we aim to deepen and expand our capacity to interrogate what is and imagine what could be. Together, we seek infinite expansion.
Four Freedoms Park Conservancy (FFPC), founded in 2011, operates under a Friends Agreement with New York State Parks to produce and curate public programs at Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms State Park. The park, designed by American modernist architect Louis Kahn, is among the greatest architectural masterpieces in New York City. By leveraging this spectacular architecture and the unique location of the park, the Conservancy produces events, installations,public art, and partners with local organizations that, together, serve a singular purpose: igniting the conversation around the Four Freedoms and the legacy of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.