Jin*, Jîyan, Azadî / Zan*, Zendegi, Āzādi / Woman*, Life, Freedom / Frau*, Leben, Freiheit
On the Revolutionary Process against the Islamic Republic and the Role of the Arts
On 16 September 2022 Jina (Mahsa) Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, was killed by the so-called morality police while in custody in Tehran. Since then, people in Iran have staged protests against the terror perpetrated by the state, while calling for a change of regime. To date, more than 18,400 people have been arrested during the uprisings and many protesters have been abused and tortured. Over 500 people have been killed, including a large number of children, teenagers and students. The political slogan “Jin*, Jîyan, Azadî” (“Woman*, Life, Freedom”), originally from the Kurdish women’s movement, figures at the heart of the uprisings, as well as its translation into Persian: “Zan*, Zendegi, Āzādi”. It is the basis for a revolutionary movement that is spearheaded by women and those subject to discrimination on the basis of their gender identity as well as by Kurds, Lurs and Baloch and other ethnic groups, university and school students and striking workers.
The programme of performances, discussions, a concert and a screening of the interactive film documentation Big Village takes place in solidarity with the ongoing protests. Admission receipts and donations will go to the transnational feminist collective Woman* Life Freedom.
Video/performance to be, or to be by anonymous
Welcome by Jeanine Meerapfel, President of the Akademie der Künste, Berlin
Keynote address by Ali Fathollah-Nejad
Discussion with Maryam Aras, Sanaz Azimipour, Solîn Bayram, Ali Fathollah-Nejad and Omid Rezaee
Moderation: Johanna M. Keller
Film screening Big Village (directors: Beri Shalmashi, Lyangelo Vasquez, 2020), presented by Sham Jaff
Poetic intervention by Tanasgol Sabbagh
Concert by Kimia Bani, Nazanin Noori, Shabnam Parvaresh and Azin Zahedi
Maryam Aras is a literary critic, freelance writer and scholar of Iranian Studies, whose work appears in a range of media outlets including Die Presse, Berliner Zeitung and Deutschlandfunk Kultur. She curates and moderates literary events, sits on the jury for various literary prizes (such as the Leipzig Book Fair Prize) and works as a translator and literary intermediator of Persian-language poetry and prose. As a scholar, she focuses on postcoloniality, women writing in Iran and the patterns of reception of BPoC authors in German-language literary criticism. She is currently writing a story collection about her father, who lived in exile in Germany, where he became an activist in the 1960s in the struggle first against the last Shah of Iran and then against the dictatorship of the Islamic Republic.
Sanaz Azimipour is an author, activist and speaker who writes for various media on the subject of movements, social justice and feminism. She moved to Germany from Tehran in Iran to study business mathematics, logic and gender studies. She is co-founder of the migrant organisation MigLoom e.V. and the initiative Not Without Us 14 Percent, which calls for the political integration of first-generation migrants. Azimipour is a member of the transnational Woman* Life Freedom collective in Berlin.
Kimia Bani is a musician and poet who has lived in Germany since 2018. She has studied dramaturgy, performing arts and compositional theory and worked as a percussionist, music teacher and composer for 15 years. She has given concerts with international music groups in Iran and Germany and produced and composed music for film and television. With many of her activities she supports women in the music scene and expands her knowledge of styles of music in different countries. She is currently studying for a master’s degree as part of the musik.welt – Cultural Diversity in Musical Education programme at the University of Hildesheim. In 2021 she won the Tamburi Mundi Frame Drum Award.
Solîn Bayram, political activist and feminist, works at the Kurdisches Frauenbüro für Frieden CENÎ e.V. (Kurdish Women's Office for Peace CENÎ e.V.). The office has been doing public relations and information work since 1999 to strengthen the international solidarity of women for peace processes in Turkey and Kurdistan, in the Middle East and worldwide. The Women's Office organizes the annual Zilan Women's Festival, initiates events, projects and actions as well as delegation trips to Kurdistan. In addition, transnational cooperation with various women's organizations is one of its main tasks.
Dr Ali Fathollah-Nejad is a political scientist whose focus is on the Middle East (especially Iran), Western foreign policy and the post-unipolar world order. After receiving his PhD in International Relations and Development Studies from SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London), he was a postdoctoral fellow in the Iran Project at the Harvard Kennedy School. He is the author of, among others, Iran in an Emerging New World Order: From Ahmadinejad to Rouhani (2021), The Politics of Culture in Times of Rapprochement: European Cultural and Academic Exchange with Iran (2015–16) (2020) and The Islamic Republic of Iran Four Decades On: The 2017/18 Protests Amid a Triple Crisis (2020), where he already suggested the start of a long-term revolutionary process in Iran.
Sham Jaff is a journalist and political scientist. She was born in Kurdistan in Iraq and grew up in Germany. In 2014, after studying political science and economics at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg (FAU), she started the English-language newsletter “what happened last week”, which has attracted more than 15,000 subscribers from over 100 countries. In 2020, Jaff was nominated for the CIVIS Audio Award for her podcast “‘Wir schaffen das!’ Wie ein Satz Deutschland veränderte”, and in 2021 she won the Grimme Online Award for her podcast “190220: Ein Jahr nach Hanau”. Jaff lives in Berlin.
Johanna M. Keller has been Head of programmes at the Akademie der Künste in Berlin since October 2022. Prior to that she worked for the Goethe-Institut in Syria, Lithuania, Egypt and Germany. As director of the Goethe-Institut Lithuania (2010–15) and head of the cultural section at the Cairo-based Goethe-Institut for the North Africa / Middle East region (2015–18), she initiated and ran numerous interdisciplinary programmes; in 2019 she established a department for managing third-party funding at the Munich headquarters. She studied international relations in Dresden, Florence, Berlin and Damascus.
Nazanin Noori is an interdisciplinary artist who lives in Berlin. Her work includes sound art, installations, texts and directing theatre and radio plays. Noori is interested in the fusion of sound, space, sculpture and post-dramatic poetry, with a focus on atmospheric narratives. She studied theatre, film and media studies at Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main and worked at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin and Schauspiel Hannover. Her debut album FARCE came out in 2020. Her work AMBIENT ROOM was shown at EIGEN + ART Lab in 2021 and the installation APOLOGY was on view at the Akademie der Künste in 2022. In 2020 she received the Academy’s JUNGE AKADEMIE Berlin fellowship.
Shabnam Parvaresh is a clarinettist, artist and curator who studied visual arts and clarinet, first in Tehran and then at the Institute of Music in Osnabrück, where she embarked on a study of jazz clarinet in 2013. Parvaresh combines elements of Persian music with electronic sounds, improvised music and jazz. In 2020 she founded the Sheen Trio, whose debut album Gozar comes out in 2023. Besides her other work as a solo or ensemble musician, she is also active as a freelance artist and has put on solo exhibitions in Tehran, Osnabrück and the United Arab Emirates. In 2022 she was nominated for the Osnabrück Art Prize and started curating the Sound Window at hase29, a concert series for improvised music in Osnabrück.
Omid Rezaee is a Hamburg-based journalist, who writes about Iran, migration and exile for periodicals such as taz, DER SPIEGEL, Der Tagesspiegel and nd. Rezaee became an amateur journalist while still at school; he went on to study mechanical engineering in Rasht in Iran, during which time he founded a magazine that was banned, and he was arrested as a result. To avoid imprisonment, he fled to Iraq. Since then, he has reported on the situation in northern Iraq and Kurdistan for Iranian exile media outlets in countries like the Netherlands, the US and the UK; in 2015, he began doing the same work for different news media in Germany. He has been running his own multilingual website, perspective-iran.com, since 2017. He is currently writing his first novel.
Tanasgol Sabbagh is a Berlin-based poet. Her work moves between stage poetry and page poetry, in the form of performances, audio pieces, video installations and musical collaborations. She is a co-founder of the artists’ collective “parallelgesellschaft” and helped launch the event series of the same name, which is dedicated to exploring political art beyond the standards of German dominant culture. Together with poet Josefine Berkholz, she founded and hosts the auditive literature magazine Stoff aus Luft: its audio format tries to examine the poetics of spoken and sound-based literature in a format outside the frame of print.
Azin Zahedi is a Berlin-based musician. As a flautist and santourist, she has been involved in various orchestras and projects, including the Babylon Orchestra, Ensemble Resonanz, the Berlin Symphony Orchestra and the Lower Bavarian Philharmonic Orchestra, playing in major concert halls in Germany. The multi-instrumentalist helped found the electro-acoustic ensemble TEMBER, the wind quintet SolhMiDo and the alternative band Gorgyra. After studying in Essen, Würzburg and Berlin, she was an academist at the Komische Oper Berlin in 2018/19. Zahedi is also an instrumental teacher and gives lessons both privately and at state music schools in Berlin.