Iran is Pink

This project explores the issue of women’s freedom in Iran, the form of control that religion and (or hence) the State are exercising over the population. The title “Iran is Pink” plays with the idea of the color pink, which usually associated with women it has been a sign of fragile femininity and domesticity for long time, while from the '80s turned into its opposite.

In reaction to an objectification of the woman, from the '70s onwards pink has become a sign of revolution, a strong socio-political statement. The Ramones and The Clash made it punk, Madonna made it strong and powerful.

Pink has gone from being feminine to be feminist.

The project started on the Maharlu Lake, a shallow salt basin (hence pink); when dry, vast areas are left exposed, which allows people to walk in the middle of this pink desert. So couples and families started going to the Maharlu to be far from everybody's eyes, to be able to lower the hijab on their shoulder and feel some sort of freedom of normality. They can hold each others' hand or simply dance (women are not allowed to do so in front of other men who are not part of the family). This obviously goes against all the laws limiting personal freedom, that were introduced after the Revolution of ’79, such as the mandatory veiling and restricted public dress code for women. These restrictions continue to be justified with reference to national values and the state-sanctioned interpretation of Islam, but despite the Iranian government anti-feminist stance, there is today an emerging feminist generation; not only feminist, but progressive. Needless to say that the enforcing of those laws in Iran is extreme: just less than a year ago civil rights activist Saba Kord Afshari was sentenced to 24 years in prison for taking off her hijab in public, which Iranian authorities say promoted "corruption and prostitution". The hijab is one of the symbol of this form of control, reason why it became one of the main subjects of the project: symbol of denied femininity and yet, the decorative and colorful element that women can show to be themselves.

The way the color pink has been perceived by society has changed over the years, from being considered feminine, and erotic, to being kitsch, then sophisticated till transgressive, hip and androgynous. There is something complex and controversial about this color which seemed appropriate to use it as a thread to document different aspects about this complex Country: from a lake symbol of freedom to cotton threads and fabrics, from Nasir al-Mulk Mosque to a soft light that turns everything pink. 

 © 2023 Claudia Orsetti 

Freelance Photographer

Claudia

Orsetti