Sheida Soleimani is an Iranian-American artist, currently residing in Detroit, Michigan, and is doing her graduate studies at the Cranbrook Academy of Art. The daughter of two parents that are political refugees, Soleimani references situations in relevance to her own and her parent’s past, while inserting her own critical perspectives on historical and contemporary socio-political occurrences in the Middle East.
Recognizing the cultural dualities in my upbringing, my work explores identity formed by personal memories and stories my parents expressed to me as a child. In the 1979 Iranian Revolution, my father was a political activist against the Ayatollah’s totalitarian regime, and was suppressed for his pro-democratic beliefs. In return, my mother was imprisoned and tortured while the government tried to learn about my father’s whereabouts. Their revolutionary stories regarding a time of societal upheaval in Iran were initiatives for me to create narratives in regards to my own critical perspectives on past historical issues, as well as their relevance today.
Through the changing of dictators within the past 35 years of Iranian political history, the national anthem of the country has been changed 3 times: each time suiting the more oppressive regime that has come into power. In my photographic scenarios, cultural symbols and signifiers are appropriated to create a narrative in regards to my position as an Iranian-American viewing the Middle East from an outside lens. The usage of specific colors and political figures form a symbolic lexicon that runs throughout the series, while party supplies hint at the doctrines of ‘political parties’. Each of the photographs addresses a specific time in Iranian history, while alluding to how both the East and West have responded to societal occurrences. Through incorporating multiple layers, the lexicon can be read and refashioned by the viewers’ ideologies, creating images that remain coeval, while acknowledging former origins.
To view more of Sheida’s work please visit her website.