Iran acid attack victims find new identity in art

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


Six classic car films to watch as women in Saudi Arabia prepare to take the wheel

Updated 23 June 2018
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Six classic car films to watch as women in Saudi Arabia prepare to take the wheel

DUBAI: In celebration of women in Saudi Arabia getting behind the wheel on June 24, we take a look at six classic car films — female-driven flicks included — that are guaranteed to get your adrenaline going.
‘The Italian Job’ (1969)
“You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!” It’s an iconic line known the world over, but have you actually sat down to watch this Michael Caine-starring classic? The plot centers on Caine’s character and his crew of gangsters who pull off a dazzling heist while driving a bevy of Mini Coopers. It’s fantastically fun and even inspired a 2003 remake. If it’s your first time, however, we suggest sticking to the original — they don’t build ‘em like they used to.
‘Thelma and Louise’ (1991)
It may have a controversial ending, but many see this film as the high octane, feminist version of “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and it is revered in film culture. Directed by Ridley Scott and starring Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon, the film sees the pair flee after they kill a rapist and follows them as they fight until the very end — and meet a very young Brad Pitt on the way.
‘Crossroads’ (2002)
It may have received lukewarm reviews at the time, but this film was loved by teenage girls the world over. The flick stars Britney Spears (alarm bells, anyone?) and tells the story of three childhood friends who rekindle their connection on a cross-country trip.
‘Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby’ (2006)
The humor may be eye-roll inducing, but this film has too many fans to discount. The film pokes fun at NASCAR and sees Will Ferrell play the role of Ricky Bobby, a driver who was at the top of his game but loses it all to a snotty Frenchman.
‘Drive’ (2011)
It’s dark, it’s gritty and best of all it stars Ryan Gosling. He is known for his deadpan, inexpressive face (and oh, what a face) and skillfully portrays a Hollywood stuntman who moonlights as a getaway driver and ends up risking it all to protect a woman and her son from vengeful criminals.
‘Baby Driver’ (2017)
You can’t discuss this film without giving special mention to its epic soundtrack — it features everything from James Brown to Beck and will have you wiggling in your seat throughout the movie. Ansel Elgort plays a brilliant young getaway driver with a penchant for seriously good music, stunningly choreographed car chases and the primal desire to escape a mob boss with the girl he loves.