In 1990, the artist and poet Farkhondeh Shahroudi left Iran with her son and arrived in Germany. “I had to learn everything all over again,” she says. “I had to find a place for myself, learn a new language and get to know the art scene here. I have to say, I was quite brave.” Three decades later, the Tehran-born artist’s intimate and resonant work – exploring themes of displacement, migration and connection – has just won her the prestigious Hannah Höch Forderpreis (Advancement Award). This prize, exclusively for Berlin-based female artists, provides €10,000 in funding and the opportunity to put on a solo show at the Kuperstichkabinett, Berlin’s Museum of Prints and Drawings, accompanied by a publication.
I had to find a place for myself, learn a new language and get to know the art scene here. I have to say, I was quite brave.
For the upcoming exhibition, Shahroudi has prepared an enormous slingshot made from the boughs of a tree, ready to fire a giant ball formed out of traditional Persian rugs – a wry nod to the magical flying carpet trope. Oriental rugs often depict bounteous garden scenes teeming with flowering trees and shrubs, so by turning them into a projectile, she creates an absurd visual metaphor for exploding seed bombs. “My work is never just critical in nature,” Shahroudi explains. “It may be political and poetic, but it’s full of irony and humour.”
Regarding the current political situation in her birthplace, the Iranian artist is deeply moved by the widespread protests sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini after her arrest for allegedly not wearing her hijab correctly. “I am astonished by the actions of the new generation, these 17 and 18-year-olds, young girls just like I once was,” she says, pausing to compose herself. “They want to bring about change and finally complete the revolution that was stolen from us.” In 1979, when Shahroudi was a teenager, the Iranian Revolution toppled the existing monarchy, but this led to the establishment of a repressive Islamic political system that is the target of these protests. “Nowhere does it state that you have to wear a hijab, yet it is enforced,” she explains. “It is a chaotic situation. The women are fighting for the choice to wear one or not. It is about women’s freedom.”
The €10,000 prize money will allow Shahroudi to spend more time in the studio and further develop her unique synthesis of visual art and poetry. Composing stream-of-consciousness poems in both German and Farsi, she chooses to only use her left hand to write in German. This technique puts her more in touch with her thoughts, she explains, and allows her to transcend borders imposed by language. “Being an artist is so wrapped up in my identity,“ she says, “there is really nothing else that I can do. I have always worked a lot in my studio and can’t wait for the opportunity to have a catalogue of my work published.”
- Kupferstichkabinett, (Matthäikirchplatz)
- Nov 2-Feb 5
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