In English

Iranian women speaking through art in European Parliament

Speech: Inauguration of Unexposed exhibition 29.1.2013

Dear friends,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to host this truly unique exhibition in the European Parliament.

I would like to quote Ms Fery Malek-Madani, the curator of this exhibition. Ms Malek-Madani wrote these beautiful words: 'The sky is clearing, the hurricane is behind us. Blue skies await the country and this younger generation of Iranians. Above all, what will come after the storm is the rebirth.'

For us in Europe the idea of freedom of artistic expression is closely linked with the idea of democracy. The very fact that the artworks of these 40 young Iranian women were never shown, and they could have not been shown, at their home country is the vivid example of lack of political and not only artistic freedom.

Dear friends,

I think this exhibition is a sign of a dialogue between our peoples and cultures. We in Europe believe in diversity and freedom. I can see that these works of art have been made with the same love and appreciation for diversity. I am by no means an art expert, but as a viewer I can not help but admire this wide range of styles and artistic voices. Indeed eclecticism prevails over stereotypes and black-and-white vision of the world.

This has been the guiding principle in our work of Iran delegation in the European Parliament. We take a very wide view on Iran and discuss many crucial aspects of Iran's politics, society and relations between Europe and Iran. In our debate on Iran we aim not to look at it as the external Other but as a complex society with a multitude of links to Europe. In this spirit we have discussed the current dire situation with human rights, in particular the situation and rights of women.

The very name of this exhibition - Unexposed - reveals the complexity of this problem of women's identity and roles in Iran's society. As we know from reports from Iran, women are expected to go by as unexposed and when they chose to expose themselves in any way as a citizen and artist, they face sever ramifications. Women-artists, women-lawyers, and teachers in Iran, they are the ones who constantly have to strike the delicate, and often dangerous balance, between shadow and light.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Indeed, this exhibition comes at a very important time for all of us in light of the forthcoming presidential elections in Iran. What we hope for is that the elections in June this year will be free and fair.

Let us celebrate this exhibition; let us celebrate the artists and their wonderful eclectic voices and let us hope these voices will be heard not only in Europe but in Iran too.

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