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.


British rockers Wolf Alice upset odds to win Mercury Prize

Rockers Wolf Alice picked up the £25,000 prize. (AFP)
Updated 21 September 2018
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British rockers Wolf Alice upset odds to win Mercury Prize

  • Wolf Alice's critically-acclaimed album charted at number two in Britain on its release in September

LONDON: Rockers Wolf Alice defied the odds to win Britain’s prestigious Mercury Prize on Thursday for their second album “Visions of a Life,” beating off competition from heavyweights Arctic Monkeys and Noel Gallagher.
“This means so much,” said emotional frontwoman Ellie Rowsell as she picked up the £25,000 ($33,000, 28,000 euros) prize, which is presented annually for the best album released by a British or Irish artist, according to a panel of judges.
The north London four-piece, who released their debut album in 2015, join past winners including Primal Scream, Franz Ferdinand, PJ Harvey, The xx and grime star Skepta.
The band, whose critically-acclaimed album charted at number two in Britain on its release in September, closed out the show with a celebratory performance of album track “Don’t Delete the Kisses.”