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.


Elton John signs with Universal ‘for the rest of his career’

Updated 22 September 2018
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Elton John signs with Universal ‘for the rest of his career’

LONDON: Elton John has signed a deal with Universal Music Group for his back catalogue and any new work as well as brand management, merchandising and licensing rights, the company said on Friday.
Under the agreement signed with John’s company Rocket Entertainment, Universal Music Group (UMG) will represent the veteran British singer’s new music “for the rest of his career” on top of his work from the last 50 years.
“The multi-faceted agreement marks the beginning of a new era of expanded collaboration between Elton John and UMG and significantly expands their global business partnership,” the company said in a statement.
The agreement covers publishing rights to John’s “iconic song writing catalogue to be administrated by Universal Music Publishing Group long into the future.”
The group’s brand-management company Bravado will work with Rocket on merchandising, branding and retail licensing around the singer’s three-year final world tour, “Farewell Yellow Brick Road.”
No financial details of the deal were given.
The 71-year-old kicked off the tour in the United States this month. John, who has two children with husband David Furnish, has said he wanted to stop traveling to focus on family life.