Sheida Soleimani Dissects Iranian Politics Through Confrontational “National Anthem” Series

Sheida Soleimani - photograph Sheida Soleimani - photographSheida Soleimani - photographSheida Soleimani - photograph

Artist Sheida Soleimani has translated her frustration with her home country Iran and it’s politics into a captivating and symbolically complex photographic series called National Anthem. Her parents fled the country in 1979 after the revolution that overthrew the pro-western Pahlavi dynasty took place. (Both parents were targeted for actively opposing the regime – her mother tortured, and her father escaping across the border.) As a political refugee in America, Soleimani observed her country transition through several fundamental changes and decided to express her disdain visually. Each photographic scene is an exploration of cultural themes and symbols all representing different aspects of the last 35 years in Iran, and the many different dictators and leaders the country has seen. Soleimani says:

In my photographic scenarios, cultural symbols and signifiers are appropriated to create a narrative in regards to my position as an Iranian-American viewing the Middle East from an outside lens. The usage of specific colors and political figures form a symbolic lexicon that runs throughout the series, while party supplies hint at the doctrines of ‘political parties’. Each of the photographs addresses a specific time in Iranian history, while alluding to how both the East and West have responded to societal occurrences. Through incorporating multiple layers, the lexicon can be read and refashioned by the viewers’ ideologies, creating images that remain coeval, while acknowledging former origins. (Source)

Combining collage, installation, performance and object assemblage, Soleimani creates powerful, emotional art-as-activism. The fierce mark making, scrunched up images, burnt candles, and mutilated cultural objects all have the hand of an aggrieved survivor. Managing to turn her deeply personal history into a series of clever, sarcastic visual puns, Soleimani’s artistic therapy is beneficial to us all. Sheida Soleimani - photograph 14_soleimani_magiccarpet_650  Sheida Soleimani - photograph Sheida Soleimani - photograph  Sheida Soleimani - photograph Sheida Soleimani - photograph

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  • girl


  • girl

    It’s always the same subject matter with these Iranian artists, it’s getting old and it’s getting dull. Why not get out of your funk and be inspirational for a change? My family is from Iran, and sure it’s a political mess but why dwell on it so much? It is a drag and frankly, I’m tired of seeing these kinds of works, your vulgarity or showing of nude mixed with the hijab is an insult and disgrace. I am saying this as an iranian-american woman in her twenties. Show some dignity. This is not art, it is garbage, I’m sorry to say. This and so many iranian-artists in the same category can use a spiritual awakening. Don’t bother to respond because I won’t be coming back to this ugly page.

  • Craig Everett Jones

    Enjoyed the art, could be applicable to many allegedly religious political figures or structures, including the republican party in the U.S.

    Comment to the editor: *its is possessive, not “it’s”.

  • Ianpett

    What does “Confrontional” mean?

  • bdecay

    Whoops. that was an error. we fixed it. Thanks for catching it!

  • vladek

    well, i think you should not be on this page if you don’t get art. it’s a free world, nobody dragged you to see this page

  • Julius Granström

    make “better” art nothing stops you 🙂

  • H-Bombs

    I completely agree with your points….I feel that artists who want to make political statements really need to do some research so they can understand the the historically contingent discourses that they are entering.

    I feel the main achievement of this piece is the inherent bigotry and the hypocrisy of american liberalism…

  • LogicSpeaks

    Dignity? Vulgarity? Not art? I would love it if you could please define what art is for me. “Sure its a political mess” is an enormous understatement and you as an Iranian should be ashamed for making that comment. You do realize women in Iran are systematically raped then murdered in prison right? Typically, in Islam women who are virgins cannot be killed, however, once they’re raped they can. This has been documented time and time again. This is a country where homosexuals are hanged – this is not some American made liberal conspiracy. My goodness… shame on you and H-Bombs… what a disgrace.

  • LogicSpeaks

    Its also a shame that you fear nudity so much. You’re asking for someone to inform themselves who are vastly more informed than you are. The problem is people who are used to being disgusted by nudity and “gross” imagery often fail to see messages because of their instantaneous revulsion through them. American liberalism is the reason why you were able to come to this country, let alone have some actual human rights.

    Reminder: Khomeini is one of the most disgusting individuals known to humanity.

    Lastly, I don’t know if you noticed that it said her mother was tortured by the system (and this is not an isolated case). Art is power, whether you like the art or not.

    And finally, I agree with Julius below — please enlighten us with something that doesn’t disgust you. Create something that matters. Maybe draw us some beautiful flowers?