Would you like something to eat or drink? You are welcome in our own MILK café.
Qoqnoos has caught fire. The flames lick at her feathers, from her beak sounds her song. The time has come for this creature—who according to Iranian mythology has a call to silence all other birds—to fall silent. The blazing flames climb higher, and blend together with Qoqnoos’s red-orange feathers. The fire embraces her and scorches her wings, until there is nothing left but smoke and the echo of her song. But from the ashes Qoqnoos rises again, to live another one thousand years, and die in flames once more.
The biggest feminist movement of our times has been taking place in Iran for a few months now, where people are taking to the streets en masse since the death of the Kurdish-Iranian Jina Mahsa Amini. With the rallying cry ‘Jin Jîyan Azadî / Zan Zendegi Azadi’ (Women Life Freedom) they declare to the whole world that there is no freedom until all women are free. From her home in the Netherlands, photographer and filmmaker Tina Farifteh follows the protests in her motherland.
Resistance is nothing new to Iranian women; women and the LGBTQIA+ community have been fighting against all forms of oppression and for equal rights every day for centuries. The movement we see today is a culmination and a continuation of years of protest. At times the resistance is subtle, invisible, silent and stretches boundaries millimetre by millimetre. At times the resistance is disruptive, and finds its way out in an outburst. Anyone who hears the never extinguishing slogans and battle songs knows: you can’t burn women made of fire.
Ahead of the International Women’s Day, Melkweg Expo invited Farifteh to curate an exhibition on this urgent feminist movement with works by women from Iran and the Iranian diaspora. The exhibition presents video art works, photography, installations and multimedia works by multiple Iranian female artists: Elnaz Assar, Niloofar Azimian, Tina Farifteh, Golshan, Sara Kazemimanesh, Nastaran Razawi Khorasani (in collaboration with Davy Pieters), Afsaneh Ghafarian Rabe’I en Newsha Tavakolian.
The battle for equal rights is never finished; women’s and human rights are not absolute and each generation is responsible for upholding them anew. With the exhibition, Farifteh hopes Qoqnoos’s eternal flames and persistent power inspires all women to find their own form of resistance.