Meta-Text: Woman, Life, Liberty
In the middle of preparing the summer 2022 issue of the journal and finishing course registration at the beginning of the new academic year, the “Woman, Life, Liberty” movement and widespread protests against the Islamic regime of Iran began to grow. Soon, everybody at Kaarnamaa realized that it would be mentally and physically impossible for us to proceed with our normal programme of events, classes and writing. We paused, and after careful consideration, it was clear that we had to cancel the Institute’s normal plans and activities, join the people, and redirect our efforts toward the “Woman, Life, Liberty” movement.
What you are now seeing is a product of that decision. Instead of a regular issue, we expanded the artist’s book project of the journal, the Meta-Text, into a long visual essay about “Woman, Life, Liberty.” From the beginning of the movement, the editorial board observed, collected, categorized, sifted through, and sometimes republished thousands of often traumatic, yet always powerful, images, videos, and screenshots shared by anonymous photographers and videographers on social media. These low-res, hazy, or otherwise “poor” screenshots formed the prevailing mood and the backbone of this narrative. In the terrifying absence of professional journalism, the youth used their cellphones to stand witness to their own spectacular protests and defiant actions: burning their hejaabs, embracing each other, singing, dancing, chanting; and getting beaten, arrested, killed, and executed for their righteous cause.
This artist book, which is structured on the three main tenets of “Woman, Life, Liberty,” is a snapshot of an epic chapter in the Iranian struggle for democracy, reflecting on both our hopes and our apprehensions. This artist book is an effort to stand witness to what we went through and profoundly felt during one of the most momentous and monumental episodes of our lives.
When we were not working with images or pouring into the streets, we were collaborating with and reaching out to fellow artists and writers, in Iran and across the world, to write and publish statements and organize actions in support of the movement. An unprecedented sense of unity among Iranian politicians, activists, and cultural practitioners against the brutal Islamic regime in Iran has now emerged, and that’s what keeps us hopeful.