Artists including Cindy Sherman, Kara Walker and Marina Abramović have signed an open letter in solidarity with protestors in Iran following the death of Mahsa Amini in September. The letter, launched by an anonymous group, reads in part: “We, artists, writers, academics and cultural practitioners from across disciplines and various countries, support the call of our Iranian colleagues to stand in solidarity with their struggle against the repressive and despotic Islamic state in Iran.”
Other artists and curators who have signed up to the statement include Kara Walker, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Nari Ward, Arthur Jafa, Hans Haacke and Robert Storr who tells us: “Yes, I did sign it and would gladly do so again if there is any doubt.” The letter asks the international community to “boycott governmental institutions of the Islamic state of Iran and their covert affiliates and prevent them from having any presence in international arenas of arts, culture and education”, among other demands.
The signatories also “support our counterparts and collaborators who stand against the atrocities and abuses of human rights in Iran, using our intellectual and cultural leverage and capabilities”. Other figures endorsing the open letter include the artists Barbara Kruger, Amy Sillman and Eyal Weizman (of Forensic Architecture).
Known as the “Woman, Life, Liberty” movement, the protests in Iran began on 16 September after Amini died in custody following accusations of breaching Iran’s modesty rules. Although the authorities have imprisoned protestors, the demonstrations have continued to grow, in particular among students and young people.
The artist Shirin Neshat meanwhile continues to post protest statements on her Instagram feed. Earlier this week she posted: “We wake up to the horrific news that the 23-year-old protestor Mohsen Shekari has been executed. Our hearts bleed, we are at rage with this fascist regime for the most cruel act of war against the people of Iran.” Shekari was hanged 8 December after being found guilty by a Revolutionary Court of having committed “moharebeh” (enmity against God), state media reported.
According to the London-based curator Vali Mahlouji, scores of artists and photographers are among those incarcerated since the protests began and the number is growing. “Our main humanitarian focus is to mount international pressure on the regime to halt further executions of protesters,” he says.
Demonstrations in solidarity with the ongoing protest movement in Iran have been staged at museums across the United States, including at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, SFMOMA, the Guggenheim Museum and, most recently, the Metropolitan Museum.