FREEDOM IS NOT FREE
What does freedom mean? Through the lens of her camera and through a kaleidoscope of history of women in resistance in the Middle East and North Africa Mashid put together a multidimensional work which, through its varied formats such as photography, collage, text, and historical images, takes the viewer on a dreamlike journey neither bound by space nor time. Mashid’s work is permeated with the duelling nature of documentation and art, past and present, pain and joy, war and peace, loss and creation.
This series was part of Mashid’s Artistic Doctoral Research at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts and the University of Antwerp, which started as a research on female freedom fighters and culminated in a very personal journey to her native Iran.
This resulted in an Artist’s book focussing on the private and public world of Iranian women who grew up after the Revolution of 1979 and on places of significance from Mashid’s childhood. For these women the political can no longer be separated from the personal – their bodies, their private and public life have been and continue to be influenced by the Revolution.
I left Tehran for the Zagros Mountains to follow a Sufi Sheikh and to witness the rituals. Upon my return to the capital, I see my aunt and my cousin Morvarid… I ask if she would go to Grandmother’s house with me. We drive there together through the area – where we used to set off firecrackers behind piles of dirt – and has now become a posh gated area. A guard hesitantly waves us through. In front of the house, I press the intercom, my heart racing. The new owner answers the door but politely refuses to let us in. We stand there staring through the gates into the garden where we once played hide-and-seek.
In 2019, I am in Tehran, during the celebration of the fortieth anniversary of the Iranian Revolution. President Rouhani holds an endless speech broadcast over loudspeakers on every street corner. On this cloudy day in February, darkly clad female figures wave their flags and slink around concrete streets and buildings. Outside the city, a new museum has been built in honor of the revolution and the Iran–Iraq war. During my visit to the museum, religious schoolgirls dressed in black walk in groups, experiencing the history of the only regime they have ever known.