On 21 November 1998 Parastou Forouhar’s life was changed for ever. On that day, her parents, both political dissidents, were assassinated in their home in Teheran on the orders of the Iranian secret service. Knowing full well that shedding light on this crime was not only important to her and her family, but was also a matter of much wider political interest, Parastou Forohour became a public figure. As an artist, she has tended not to channel her trauma, grief, anger and feeling of powerless into her creative work. The documentation presented here addresses the murder of her parents and her own persistent efforts to find out who was behind it in a purely informative way. Through letters, newspaper articles, interview transcripts, press releases, correspondence with politicians, officials and institutions, the artist gives an insight into the events and their aftermath. All the material has been photocopied. The papers are neatly arranged on cardboard boxes, with international media reports, letters and a selection of replies to them pinned to polystyrene panels. A photocopier is provided for visitors to use so that they can take their own copies with them.
The documentation shown here focuses on one single, unique case. What is not unique, however, is what the documentation reveals about behaviour and attitudes. It paints a dark picture of the machinery of state power and of a regime so incapable of trusting the individual that it resorts to control, repression and even murder in order to legitimise and hold on to its dubious and regressive power. The decision to present her own personal story within the context of art was a difficult one, for several reasons. One of them being that Parastou Forouhar risks being defined primarily by her biography rather than through her work. What is crucial, however, is that in doing so she shows a slice of life and puts it in a public form.
Text by Natalie de Ligt translated by Ishbel Flat