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Arts and culture

To Be A Woman: Middle East women seen by women from Iran

BEIRUT | - February 25, 2016, 07h55

The exhibition To Be a Woman will be held at ArtLab in Gemmayzeh from March 3 till 26. The artists' works, all members of the Matrix collective, deal with the concept of feminism within the Middle East, specifically Iran.

Matrix is a collective mainly consisting of young women who have grown up in post-revolutionary Iran. Their works explore their experiences of patriarchal society and the difficulties they face living in such a society. The Iranian artists taking part in the To Be A Woman exhibition are Hoda Najafi (40 years old, she has held solo exhibitions in Germany, Sri Lanka and Iran and participated in group exhibitions in Iran, Japan and Italy); Yalda Khajehzadeh (42, she has held solo and participated in group exhibitions in Iran); Samira Alborzkouh (31, she has participated in group exhibitions in Iran and France); and Layla Fathizadeh (38, she has participated in group exhibitions in Iran and Canada).
In biological terms, a matrix is the space between two other areas. In this sense Matrix represents the area between the patriarchal societies of the Middle East and the artist's own experience. Each artwork attempts to define the artist's own experiences, critical, contradictory, often humorous, their work is certainly contemporary and most definitely important social commentary.
Taking a dialectical approach, "To Be A Woman" is a study of women's historical role within Iranian society and through their work the artists of Matrix take on the patriarchal elements of Middle Eastern society and present women in a different context.
Each work explores an obstacle that society has placed in the way of their women. By exposing the inherent inequalities within society, the collective challenges the overarching patriarchy found throughout the region by referencing biased traditions and historical roles.
The symbols of repression are toyed with, revealing the contradictions and limitations the current social and political environment places on women and local norms are placed under the microscope.

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