January 5, 2018 – February 8, 2018
Robert J. Shiller once said “Oppression thrives on distance, on not actually meeting or seeing the oppressed.” The works by artist Sheida Soleimani in the exhibition Oppress(er)(ed), seek to resurrect and memorialize the women that have been imprisoned, executed and otherwise erased from existence by the Iranian government. The women’s likenesses have been reproduced from low-res file photos into fabric sculptural effigies and photographs of elaborately constructed shrines.
Soleimani has been able dredge up the last remaining photos and digital residue that proved these women have ever existed and has created new works in memoriam to spread awareness of their ultimate sacrifices and the atrocities of the Iranian state. Soleimani references Albert Badura’s “Bobo Doll” experiments of 1961, where he was able to find the ease in which children adhere to violence after observing adults demonstrating aggression towards inanimate stuffed dolls. Often women are executed in public in Iran. Children are encouraged to watch and even participate in these executions. By creating soft sculptures of her own in the vein of the Bobo Doll, Soleimani seeks to overturn the learned apathy of the fate of these victims and uncover the state-endorsed violence towards women and dissidents of Iran. The women’s portraits in both soft sculptures and the photographs work to bring visitors into intimate moments of mourning, while simultaneously surrounding the entire space with depictions of their executioners.
Installation images by Jeffrey Enriquez.