I was born on February 11th

Performance, 2009

I was born on February 11th, a date which held no significance beyond familial celebrations – until 21 years later, when it aligned with the Iranian Islamic Revolution, marking my 21st birthday as a momentous occasion for the entire country. It makes me wonder, had I been born two decades later, how different would my life be under the changed cultural and legal landscape? Would my appearance, my beliefs, or my comfort with societal norms be altered?

Before the revolution, Iran offered certain freedoms to its citizens, though it was far from a beacon of democracy. Men and women enjoyed more liberties, particularly in dress and behavior; women weren’t compelled to cover themselves extensively, and men faced fewer restrictions in their appearance and actions.

At my exhibition’s opening, during a ritualistic performance, I envelop myself in fabric while a recorded narrative of my voice shares my reflections on this transformation: What lies beneath the layers a woman wears? What does she conceal, and does it alter her identity? Is she perceived differently by others than she sees herself? And would my moral outlook change if, from a young age, I had been required to cover my head?

I cover myself. Yes. I cover myself to protect men from committing errors. I cover myself because I'm a nice person. I cover myself because men cannot cover their eyes. It's not convenient. I cover myself to show others that I don't belong to them and I'm different and I'm humble. Others are not. I was not, when I wasn't covering my hair. My hair has an immense power. It attracts men and demons. My body attracts them too. So, I don't want to show it. I cover it with fabric. That saves me from the outside world. Others are open to outside...

I was born on February 11th, Grand Central Art Center, Santa Ana, California, 2009

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