Iran acid attack victims find new identity in art

1 / 4
Mohsen Mortazavi, an Iranian victim of acid attack, presents his work at the Ashianeh gallery in Tehran on February 28, 2018. (AFP)
2 / 4
A woman looks at art work made by Iranian victims of acid attacks at the Ashianeh gallery in Tehran on February 28, 2018. (AFP)
3 / 4
Iranian victims of acid attacks present their work at the Ashianeh gallery in Tehran on February 28, 2018 to raise awareness and money. (AFP)
4 / 4
A woman looks at art work made by Iranian victims of acid attacks at the Ashianeh gallery in Tehran on February 28, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 03 March 2018
0

Iran acid attack victims find new identity in art

TEHRAN: Massoumeh Attaie does not want to be defined only by the evil that drove her father-in-law to blind her with acid in her face. She wants to be known as an artist.
The 35-year-old Iranian never got justice for the brutal attack eight years ago that left her permanently disfigured.
Her father-in-law threw acid in her face because she had sought a divorce, but under Iran’s Islamic law, her two eyes were worth only one of his.
And in the end, the family threatened that the same punishment would befall her son if she pressed charges.
“I chose my son over justice,” she said — a terrible choice she says she has put behind her and refuses to let crush her spirit.
This week she joined a group of other victims of acid attacks presenting their work at the Ashianeh gallery in Tehran to raise awareness and money.
“I don’t want to be known as a victim, I want to be known as an artist,” she said.
Attaie makes pottery, sculpted bowls and statuettes.
She now lives in Tehran with her 12-year-old son, having fled her family in Iran’s third city of Isfahan, gives art classes to other blind people and proudly says she is “totally independent.”
“I hope this exhibition is encouraging for others like us to give them a bit of morale to come out from hiding away in their house and come back to society,” she said.
There have been repeated outbreaks of acid attacks in Iran.
A spate of attacks in 2014 triggered protests and claims the culprits were targeting women wearing “immodest” clothing.
The most infamous case came in 2011 when a young woman, Ameneh Bahrami, was blinded by a man after rejecting his offer of marriage.
Public pressure meant the courts granted her full retribution, ordering him to be blinded in both eyes, though she spared him at the last moment.
Not all of the attacks have targeted women.
Also presenting his work at the Tehran gallery was Mohsen Mortazavi, who was disfigured by a jealous colleague.
His artwork is a highly intricate type of portrait known as moaragh, made from wood offcuts.
Half of his self-portrait is how he once looked, the other half is obliterated by a dark blotch.
“I wanted to show the moment it happened,” he said.
“We wanted the public to hear our voice, our cry, the cry of those who have been burned like us. The best way we could find was with art,” he said.
“It’s great to see how this show has brought people back to the world,” said Zahra Safari, a visitor at the exhibition this week.
“The fact that they can use their hands to express their feelings and the fact they express their interior strength and that their face becomes less significant — that they are enjoying themselves.”
Money raised by the show went to Iran’s Association of Support of Acid Attack Victims.


Sharqiah Season features interactive Van Gogh show at Ithra

A Vincent Van Gogh interactive exhibition opened at the King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) as part of the 17-day Sharqiah Season in the Eastern Province. (Supplied)
Updated 28 min 49 sec ago
0

Sharqiah Season features interactive Van Gogh show at Ithra

  • The initiative is lin line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 program

DAHRAN: The story of Vincent Van Gogh has been brought to life in an interactive exhibition at the King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture (Ithra), through mesmerizing images projected on the walls and the voice of Lebanese actor of Jihad Al-Atrash.
Al-Atrash, who is famous for his role in “Grendizer” in the Arabic cartoon channel Spacetoon, narrates the story in Arabic, while Van Gogh’s famous paintings, such as “The Starry Night” and “Sunflowers,” fill the walls.
“It’s not only entertainment, it’s also cultural and educational,” said Khalil Itani, project manager of the exhibition, which is part of Sharqiah Season, a 17-day festival that’s taking place in the Eastern Province.
“There will be an English voiceover soon. The 30 minutes and 40 seconds describes the important timelines of Van Gogh, his struggles and achievements, his thoughts. He was an awakened and spiritual person, but he was very sad; no one understood him. Also, the voiceover explains each phase of his life and the most important paintings of his, and explains these paintings and their story, and the techniques and colors.”
Itani told Arab News that many artists have visited the exhibition. “It’s very inspiring too for artists to know how he lived — this is the added value of the Van Gogh exhibition in Ithra.”
Raghad Al-Blowi, a 20-year-old Saudi visitor, said that Van Gogh was one of her most cherished artists, and her favorite painting is “The Starry Night.” Commenting on the Arabic narration, she said: “It makes visitors really get into it in Arabic more. Locals can understand and learn about Van Gogh.”
Colombian visitor Audrey Rincon said that she also enjoyed the exhibit. “It is different from the usual exhibitions, because the paintings are displayed in an interactive and creative way. And he is my favorite painter. I love the colors he used in his paintings, and ‘Sunflowers’ is my favorite painting.”
Sharqiah Season is organized by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage in collaboration with the General Entertainment Authority, General Sports Authority and General Culture Authority. The initiative is in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 program, which aims to improve the quality of life for Saudis by providing enriching cultural pursuits and shows.
The festival, which began on March 14 and runs until March 30, has seen more than 80 entertainment and sporting events take place across nine different cities.