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Protest Installation to Document Prisoners in Iran

Originally posted at: http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/

The “Inside Out” project, created by the Parisian street artist J R, joined forces with the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center in a pop-up protest against the incarceration of journalists, artists, feminists and other activists in Iran on Tuesday morning outside the United Nations. Like the J R project, in which large portraits of ordinary people are plastered on walls and sidewalks, the installation at the protest included portraits of 11 people who are currently imprisoned in Iran, and two who were recently executed. A second protest, originally scheduled for noon in SoHo, has been postoned until Thursday because of the weather, a spokeswoman for the center said on Tuesday morning.

“This display is a juxtaposition of those who have been imprisoned, tortured and hidden, featured in the global metropolis of New York City,” Gissou Nia, the executive director of the center, said in a statement. “It’s a vivid and commanding statement of those being unjustly silenced at a time when significant diplomatic focus is being placed on Iran and its renewed engagement with the world.”

Speaking for J R, Marc Azoulay, the project manager for “Inside Out,” said in a statement that J R’s work is meant to provide “a global platform for people to share untold stories and showcase issues of global importance. We believe in the power of public art and the importance of freedom of expression.”

Among the prisoners portrayed in the installation are Hossein Ronaghi Maleki, a dissident blogger; Mohammed Seddigh Kaboudvand, a Kurdish journalist; Saeed Abedini, an Iranian-American Christian pastor; Omid Kokabee, a physicist; Bahareh Hedayat, a campaigner for women’s rights in Iran; and Abdolfattah Soltani, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah and Mohammad Seifzadeh, lawyers who founded the Defenders of Human Rights Center to provide free legal assistance to Iranian prisoners. Also included are Hashem Shabani and Hadi Rashedi, teachers who were executed in January. Their portraits will be distinguished by a splash of red paint.

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