As past Wednesday we celebrated international women’s day, work from artists like Aman Rasouli help us realise that there’s still a long road ahead towards worldwide equality.
The Afghan photographer and documentary maker, who fled her native land when the Taliban regime rose back to power, expresses through emotional imagery her view on the suppressive regimes she’s been confronted with throughout her life. I was particularly struck by the series featured here, named Where is my face?, which tackles Aman’s complicated relationship with one of the most visible symbols of fundamentalist religious practice in Afghanistan, the Burqa.
In three animated photographs, accompanied by the hauntingly sparse tones of Yusof Javadi’s music, we witness our heroine’s tragic journey. "How does it feel to not be blind but live like the blind?" we are asked in the text accompanying the works, as a water-drenched unveiling shows us the nearly broken spirit of Rasouli’s model, her sibling Faeze. Surrounded by floating flowers, we’re reminded of a Middle Eastern Ophelia, who seems fated to only find her long for liberty by taking her breath away. This desperate triptych does offer us hope, as the artist assures us that one day, we will see her rise again on behalf of all Afghan women. The bright illumination of the frames contrasts the profound sadness of the pieces and the striking gaze of Faeze in the second work is nothing short of heartbreaking. The subtle animations of the water give the pieces a more three-dimensional feel and help make the confessionals feel even more intimate.
I found it important to share Aman’s work with you as it offers a unique view of how it feels to grow up as a woman in a harsh religious dictatorship. Sadly, having escaped one tyranny, the artist now faces more of the same in her new home of Iran. But hopefully, the slow revolution that started there can still blossom and provide us with a world where women can make their own choices in life without being suppressed or bullied into what others think they should do.