A huge facial portrait of an Iranian teenage girl in a park
In the middle of Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms State Park, a huge portrait of an Iranian teenager's face printed on a cotton canvas lay on the ground. More than 300 protesters lined up behind it and stood in waves to look like her long hair. The portrait is of Nika Shahkarami, a 16-year-old Iranian girl who went missing in September after she was filmed standing on an overturned trash can and waving her headscarf as it caught on fire. Her family found out she was dead after more than a week. Nika was one of the Iranian women and girls on the front lines of a revolutionary movement. They put their lives at risk by joining protests that started after Mahsa Jina Amini died in September. Amini, a Kurdish Iranian woman who was 22 years old, died after she was taken into custody by Iran's morality police for allegedly wearing her hijab wrong.
The New York installation looks like a woman with long black hair
People are angry about her death and have a lot of other problems with the Islamic Republic's harsh government, which has led to the protests. Even though some protesters have been sentenced to death, hundreds have been killed, and more than 14,000 men, women, and children have been arrested, the protests are still going on. When seen from above, the New York installation looks like a woman with long, black hair that moves in the wind. Back on the ground, the crowd's chants can be heard across the river and through the park. The #EyesOnIran project is a set of multimedia art installations in Four Freedoms State Park that focus on Iran. One of the goals of the project is to use art to push for positive change. The park's website says that by putting the art in front of the United Nations building in Manhattan, the series calls for "direct accountability" from the UN and other world leaders.
The installations are part of 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, an annual international UN Women campaign to end violence against women. The series, which runs until Saturday, which is Human Rights Day, was made in partnership with the artist group For Freedoms, a group of Iranian women leaders, and the non-profit Vital Voices Global Partnership.
The artist JR supports the #EyesOnIran project
The French street artist JR made the piece. He is best known for his huge photo installations that were all over Rio de Janeiro during the 2016 Olympics. JR made the same piece of art three weeks ago in Brazil, using a picture of Nika and protesters to show her hair. He wants to bring the same idea to other cities around the world. "Those three words—Woman, Life, and Freedom—say it all," JR told while standing next to his portrait. "Everything I try to do with my work is to turn those words into a picture, to bring Nika's photos to life, and to make her hair grow longer and longer in every city we visit."
Along with JR's art activation on Sunday, the #EyesOnIran project includes works by Iranian artists, such as Shirin Neshat's "Offered Eyes, 1993," a black-and-white photograph of an eye with her calligraphy printed on steps in the park. A group of people from Iran, including artists, activists, and lawyers, got together on Roosevelt Island last week to show off the series. At the event, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke, and Grammy-winning musical virtuoso Jon Batiste played the piano while Mehrnam Rastegari sang Hajipour's song "Baraye."