Controversial Graphic Design: Why an Artist Can’t go Back Home

Alex Voight-Shelley, Staff Writer

This week, an Iranian graphic designer named Morehshin Allahyari was welcomed to State High to present her controversial works. Allahyari explained to students that in Iran, there are many pop culture items that are considered unsuitable for Iranian culture and are banned. Things such as The Simpsons, Barbies, and VHS tapes are all banned in Iran. She works to represent the controversial side of her country to bring awareness to the changes that need to be made. “The objects chosen for the first series are the objects/things that are banned or un-welcome in Iran by the government,” said Allahyari. “Owning some of these objects/things (dog, dildo, gun, necktie, satellite dish, etc.) means going to jail, or getting a fine, or constantly being under the risk of getting arrested or bothered by the moral police.”

One of her projects called Dark Matter, takes controversial objects, and turns them into comedic art. They include Buddha with the face of Homer Simpson, a woman with guns for arms, and a dog wearing a satellite dish.

Another one of her projects was in regards to when ISIS destroyed original art and sculptures at a museum in 2015. “Material Speculation: ISIS is a 3D modeling and 3D printing project focused on the reconstruction of twelve selected (original) artifacts (statues from the Roman period city of Hatra and Assyrian artifacts from Nineveh) that were destroyed by ISIS in 2015,” Allahyari said. She designed and modeled the broken statues to preserve their memory.

Her most recent project is called She Who Sees the Unknown. “She Who Sees the Unknown is an in progress body of work on Digital Colonialism and re-Figuring as a Feminism and activism practice.” said Allahyari. She began by researching dark goddesses and women in mythology, mostly taken from Middle-Eastern culture. She then selected twelve of these influences, and began to remodel them through 3D printing. In the end, she wanted her models to tell a story of Middle-Eastern culture, and its role on women.

Morehshin Allahyari is more than just a graphic artist, she is a woman of controversial works, looking to represent the changes that needs to be made in modern culture. She has stated that she would never be allowed to go back to Iran, because her works would certainly get her into trouble with the government. “I had a very strange moment where I realized everything could go back to zero.” said Allahyari. “But I love my works, and I would never go back.”

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