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.


Abu Dhabi Festival reveals exciting 2019 lineup

Updated 10 December 2018
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Abu Dhabi Festival reveals exciting 2019 lineup

  •  Dubbed ADF19, the festival will feature more than 100 events across 25 venues in Abu Dhabi, including 18 productions, two co-productions and two commissioned artworks
  • The festival will also shed light on artists with disabilities, with the central theme announced as “Culture of Determination”

The month-long Abu Dhabi Festival, set to be held in March 2019, announced its art-and-culture filled lineup in a press conference at the Emirates Palace hotel on Monday, with the packed itinerary set to entertain culture vultures in the capital in what will be the festival’s 16th edition.

Dubbed ADF19, the festival will feature more than 100 events across 25 venues in Abu Dhabi, including 18 productions, two co-productions and two commissioned artworks. If that isn’t enough, the festival will also feature more than 500 artists from 17 different countries.

The festival’s headline program includes performances by the Korean National Ballet — set to perform “Giselle,” a romantic ballet about a peasant girl with a passion for dance — and the Korean Symphony Orchestra. Korea has been singled out as ASF19’s “Country of Honor” and organizers are focusing on sharing its classical talent with audiences in the Middle East.

“Abu Dhabi Festival… has been contributing enormously to the region’s intercultural competence, so I’m very happy that Korea could be a part of the wonderful celebration,” the Republic of Korea’s Ambassador to the UAE Kang-ho Park told the press via video link on Monday.  

The festival will also shed light on artists with disabilities, with the central theme announced as “Culture of Determination.”

Festival founder Huda I. Alkhamis-Kanoo took to the stage alongside Peter Wheeler, CEO of the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi, to sign a cooperation agreement at Monday’s press conference and a March 16 concert titled “Stand Up For Inclusion” was announced as one of the main events during next year’s festival.

The festival will also host an exhibition called “Distant Prospects,” presenting the history of European landscape painting through renowned pieces by key figures in the Late Renaissance and Baroque eras.

Other highlights include a performance by award-winning US jazz pianist Justin Kauflin on March 11, a dance show by the Sara Baras Flamenco Ballet Company on March 21 and a full-length, three-act plotless performance by the Paris Opera Ballet, backed by the Pasdeloup Orchestra — the oldest symphony orchestra in France — on March 29 and 30.