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‘Suicide by police shot’: Interactive exhibition displays victims of Iranian repression

Artwork by Iranian artist Sadaf Ahmadi presented in an exhibition "Concrete" in Forcalquier, southern France.
Artwork by Iranian artist Sadaf Ahmadi presented in an exhibition "Concrete" in Forcalquier, southern France. Copyright Sadaf Ahmadi
Copyright Sadaf Ahmadi
By Doloresz Katanich with AFP
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Iranian artist Sadaf Ahmadi has created an interactive exhibition in Forcalquier, southern France, where visitors break concrete to reveal the faces of victims of Iranian repression.

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Iranian artist Sadaf Ahmadi offers the opportunity for members of the public to break the concrete off her canvases to reveal photographs and information about victims of the Iranian repression.

Through her exhibition "Concrete" hosted by the museum La Maison des Chapitres in Forcalquier, in the south of France, she encourages visitors to become aware of and support the women's liberation movement underway in her country.

One of the pictures underneath a concrete layer reveals little by little the portrait of 23-year-old Kia Hannaneh. Under her smiling face is ironically written: "Suicide by the police".

Since I’ve seen these kids in the street being killed, I felt they were all a part of me.
Sadaf Ahmadi
Iranian artist

"This young protester was shot dead by Iranian forces who wanted to hide her death by saying it was suicide, the excuse they give for all protester deaths. She had married a month before," says Sadaf Ahmadi.

Kia Hannaneh is one of the thirty victims to whom the artist pays tribute through this exhibition. 

The significance of concrete in the Iranian history

"My work is inspired by the protests of the 1980s in Iran during which thousands of people were executed by the Islamic regime", says the artist. "Not knowing what to do with the bodies, they threw them in mass graves and then covered them with concrete so that they would be forgotten,” she adds.

"The government of Iran has been trying to cover their crimes, like with concrete. This project is for me to ask people to come with energy and help us to break this concrete. Our goal is to find other people and appeal to their humanity and desire for freedom."

Ute Muller
Iranian artist Sadaf Ahmadi is standing in front of her exhibition hosted by the museum La Maison des Chapitres in Forcalquier, France.Ute Muller

The price of protesting for women's rights in Iran

In September 2022, 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died after the Iranian police arrested her for an alleged violation of the Islamic Republic's strict dress code. Her death sparked protests across the country. 

Since then, actions of defiance of the regime have continued, despite a crackdown that resulted in the death of at least 481 people killed by the security forces, the hanging of four people in connection with the demonstrations, and the arrest of around 14,000 people, states Oslo based NGO Iran Human Rights.

The exhibit will be displayed in Paris at the Espace des Blancs Manteaux from the 1 April, and in June it will continue at a museum in Boras, Sweden.

Watch the video above to see the artworks being revealed behind the concrete.

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