The Women of Afarin Rahmanifar

From ancient Persian times to modern day America, women have struggled to find their place, to strike a balance between their power and their grace, their voice and their whispers.  They want to embrace beauty and ferocity, to have elegance and yet to never be taken for granted.

 My work is bound by my experience of living in exile from Tehran, the city where I grew up, in the aftermath of the Iranian Revolution.  My original thoughts and interests have always been with stories of women that have to do with politics, culture, religion, and sexuality within suppressed societies. As part of my work, I am concerned with the absence of women’s voice and hope to evaluate such diverse issues as subjectivity, knowledge, power, sexuality, memory, and collective cultural identity.  I depict women as protagonist characters in both Eastern and Western societies.  These ideal feminine figures are seeking to visually challenge the dominant power imposed by suppressed societies in both cultures.

My investigations led me to immerse myself in Ferdowsi’s epic poem, “Shahnameh” (The Book of Kings) written over one thousand years ago by Persian poet Ferdowsi. “Shahnameh” is the world’s longest poem written by a single poet and is considered to be one of the foundations of Iranian mythology. The shahnameh contains a large and varied cast of female characters, some of whom play a primary role in Ferdowsi’s narratives.  Ferdowsi describes these female characters as compassionate partners, brave, loyal, stable and engaged in courtship.  The women characters in the poem become the centerpieces within my multi-platform painting project.

Titled “WOMEN OF SHAHNAMEH”, my project seeks to engage the viewer with the examination of similarities and differences between both Eastern and Western culture.  This multi-platform project consists of 3’x10’ foot long mixed media paintings suspended from the ceiling, installation, and animated motion picture film.  To fully capture the energy and spirit of the stories, I have produced short films that introduce the original stories of love, dreams, demons, and political intrigue. The interplay of large scale mixed media painting on vellum paper coupled with the animated film capture the dreamscape and surreal world of “WOMEN OF SHAHNAMEH” evoking a fantasy of literature for a new and contemporary audience.

“WOMEN OF SHAHWOMEN OF NAMEH”, Currently Exhibiting through Dec 22 at SOHO 20 Gallery, 56 Bogart Street, Brooklyn, NY