Monday, May 26, 2014

Following My Stealthy Freedom آزادی یواشکی زنان در ایران

My Stealthy Freedom آزادی یواشکی زنان در ایران

This week I have been closely following My Stealthy Freedom آزادی یواشکی زنان در ایران and I have their site on my notifications and I re-post their pictures often.

This morning was one of the most shocking things I've watched. Maybe because I've been re-posting these women's pictures and communicating with a few of them. They look so free and happy!

I went to bed last night uneasy and worried- 

 could this become violent, this mini-revolution of removing their hijab and posting their picture-
flaunting the Iranian government dress laws. A woman's head must be covered- for them it is law.

I awoke to check my Facebook thinking- they've been up a whole day ahead of me- I bet there's some great  photos (of course I'm thinking more happy pictures!).

So I open up and there's a video. Here's the link to the video on the original site it was posted: Tavaana توانا: آموزشکده جامعه مدنی ایران  A warning: it's tough to watch and listen to and I've decided on a link rather than the video because this is supposed to be a happy and uplifting blog so the choice is up to you to find it.  Granted it's 9 months old, but I gather from other comments that this is business as usual, especially as warm summer months appear and people wear lighter clothes.  The screaming was enough to unnerve me! Apparently this woman was dragged off the streets by Morality Police who are out in mass in the beginning of summer and she was arrested for not wearing her hijab properly- mind you- not for not wearing it!

I'm asking for anyone that this touches to please re-post this and follow My Stealthy Freedom آزادی یواشکی زنان در ایران  themselves and re-post their pictures.

 If enough of us care maybe we CAN make a difference.

Perhaps even contacting anyone in government that might be able to influence things. I posted to Chelsea Clinton's Facebook site.

Politically if we were to pressure the Iranian government to relax their Modesty Laws 
I believe it could have a positive ripple effect. It might seem unimportant to some, but granting freedom to the women to choose their dress and encouraging a more Moderate government could have positive results in other areas. It could even go so far to improve our relations with this people, after all the women must be almost half the population and obviously many do want to be free.

 And I'm not talking about a freedom against the hijab, but the freedom to choose, because many might choose to wear it for religious reasons. But wouldn't it be more beautiful if it was freely worn? 

Let us show these women our support in however ways we can from small to large- just "I'm with you" in the comments and the country you're from is great!

I think change can come about if everyone supports these women on Facebook and elsewhere in the media and alerting our politicians that we do care! Because of the worldwide spread of internet and Facebook, Internationally we are starting to see Governments and even rebellious Terrorists respond to worldwide media attention to situations (like in the taking of the African girls- the group that took them are responding to the world-wide attention, whether this is to the good in this instance remains to be seen). 

All our efforts count, even the small ones, like drops in the ocean they might seem small and insignificant but I believe that with all of us saying a resounding "No" to this Modesty Law and supporting the women in Iran that change can and will be made.

Just because they are on another side of this planet does not mean they do not count or are not important.

We live such sheltered lives here in America. To help make a change for the better for others is such a small thing we can do with hopefully large repercussions- just re-post and support their posts of themselves being so BRAVE!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Freedom From Hijab


Marco Ryan Photography: 3rd prize in Polaris International Photo Contest

I must admit, just last week I was thinking how beautiful women were with a traditional Hijab on or any head covering. From my perspective I only saw beauty. It's a touch of color when traveling through New York City.

Even on the news if there is tragedy- I think the women are so beautiful, even covered.

 So coming across photos of women "liberated" from their scarves made me pause. My, it never occurred to me some (if not for many) this isn't a choice they made, but foisted on them.  This article challenged my thoughts: The Facebook Page Where Iran’s Women Are Unveiling Online.  A photo from the Facebook page collecting women from Iran that are unveiling: My Stealthy Freedom آزادی یواشکی زنان در ایران

"Protest ... An Iranian woman posted this photo of herself taking off her headscarf, writing 'Hoping for the day when all my nation’s women can taste freedom with their whole bodies and souls.' "My Stealthy Freedom آزادی یواشکی زنان در ایران

For some this is a freedom song.

and yet for others to wear a Hijab is an either expression of their religious beliefs or a fashion statement, or both.

 Some have fought to have the right to wear their coverings in France and in Canada.


So what is right? Ultimately. Perhaps just the freedom of choice. I think it is fear that propels laws. Fear that society will run amok without guidelines, and certainly that is understandable, especially for a Islamic country. But perhaps freedom to wear or not wear a Hijab would bring interesting results. One journalists noted that in the 80's wearing the Burqa and Hijab in Egypt had seemed to be declining and then a decade later there was a come back and now again most are covered, part of this is a religious resurgence and further it has become a fashion statement in itself.  Hijab fashion in Egypt: A lot more than meets the eye

                                                                                         Cairo Ladies Subway

Please note that while I celebrate with those who wanted Freedom from the Hijab, at the same time I do respect and in a way admire those who chose to wear it for their own personal Religious reasons.

 Hence, choice is the deciding factor: we must all have Freedom to choose what we wear and why we wear a headcovering or not. 

No one should be forced to wear one thing or another, as if owned as a slave. So let's celebrate the Freedoms found for some and do remember that respect is also important for those who do wear one.

Further Reading- Pro & Con Hijab:

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Never Take Your "Happy"ness for Granted

Never Take Your "Happy"ness for Granted

Last week Iranian young adults were arrested for creating a video in tribute to Pharrell Williams video: "Happy".  The video was directed and filmed by Siavash Taravati and showed the group dancing on a rooftop in Iran. 

Many posted online to free them:

 Yesterday they were released, their producer was not and they still face charges of dancing in public, lewdness and for the women not wearing their head covering, a hijab, which is law in Iran. 

The police stormed Rayhaneh Taravati's apartment (the producer's sister) who is an artist and photographer . Searching and smashing everything inside including her artwork and photos. Everyone was arrested and spent 3 days in prison, a very unpleasant experience- especially for the women who were strip searched by a female officer.

At the end they were forced to be filmed recanting their actions, saying others made them to do it.

Rumors on Facebook from someone in Iran said the parents were fined the equivalent of $10,000 to have their children released yesterday and their lives were threatened if they talked to the media. Personal equipment was confiscated: computers, cameras, and phones.

Can you imagine being arrested just for making a video about being "Happy"?!

Their video:  

At the end of the video they have posted: "We have made this video as Pharrell William's fans in 8 hrs, with IPhone 5S.  'Happy' was an excuse to be happy. We enjoyed every second of making it.  Hope it puts a smile on your face." In the background they are speaking Farsi and giggling, they're just kids!!!! 

Revolution often starts with the young and guns, but I wonder if it has ever started with laughter and dancing? A very powerful statement in dance and music.

When freed Rayhaneh Taravati posted this on Instagram: "Hi I'm back 🙏 thank you @pharrell and everyone who cared about us love you all so much and missed you so much ❤️❤️❤️"

Perhaps Pharrell Williams has started a freedom revolution. With a smile on his face and a beat to his step.  When he heard of what happened he was quoted on Facebook as saying: "It is beyond sad that these kids were arrested for trying to spread happiness." 

Sources & Additional Reading:

Monday, May 12, 2014

Treasures Refound

      Long Lost Artwork by Masters Recovered

The German Cornelius Gurlitt who had horded Modern artwork in his Munich apartment stolen previously by the Nazis from Jews died this past week.


 He bequeathed his hoard of artwork to the Bern Art Museum in Switzerland. But since the actual ownership is in question they are not quick to celebrate. Heir to priceless Nazi-era art hoard dies aged 81 and German recluse leaves art amassed under Nazis to Swiss museum


The man was originally investigated in 2010 by custom officers because he was suspicious on a train traveling from Zurich to Munich with a wad of undeclared money and his father was a famous art dealer for the Nazis. Ends up he never paid his taxes or registered with the government, they didn't know he existed.

Later he would be pursued for tax evasion. Here is an account in a German paper (translated a bit awkwardly): "But after a long search, the investigators found his apartment in Munich. The old man lives alone, they shadow him. And in 2011 they get a search warrant. Hit! All rooms are cluttered, shuttered windows and balcony door. Amidst the chaos, the 1500 paintings, prints, sketches. Max Hollein, head of Frankfurt's Städel Museum told BILD:'I know of no similar wealth.' "  Nazi treasure discovered in trash apartment!

Otto Griebel’s ‘Kind am Tisch’ (Child at a table)  

How did he get all these treasures, some never seen or even known about?  The German paper goes on to explain: "His father Hildebrand Gurlitt († 1956) was an art dealer in the Third Reich. On behalf of propaganda minister Goebbels he desperate Jewish art collectors for little money, sold by the Nazis expensive abroad. But many works, he kept to himself -., And bequeathed it to his son." 

                (Here in this picture Goebbels inspects the "Degenerate Art Exhibit in 1937)

"Adolf Hitler looks at works of art at the"Schreckenskammer" ("chamber of horrors"), a forerunner of the great travelling exhibition "Entartete Kunst" ("Degenerated Art") in Dresden August 17, 1935." Hoard of looted Nazi art may lead to more

Here another work found in Gurlitt's home   

The goes on to say: According to 'Süddeutsche Zeitung' Hildebrand Gurlitt told after the war, his art camp was burned in the firestorm of Dresden" (Historical Note:The City of Dresden was repeatedly bombed by the allies and a firestorm resulted making a devastation of the city and killing a half a million people over 14 hours. The WWII Dresden Holocaust - 'A Single Column Of Flame' )

                                                             Max Liebermann

But apparently his collection wasn't destroyed and was passed down to his son who hid it in his German flat in Munich. Cornelius Gurlitt was a reclusive man who had stashed over a 1,200 works of art that his father had brokered for the Nazis as their art dealer. His work was discovered two years ago during a tax evasion investigation. He had sold individual pieces over the years to live on. Now these pieces are of uncertain ownership.Heirs Without Opportunities

                       "Femme à sa toilette" - pastel by Degas sold Cornelius Gurlitt 1988


 When they confiscated all his artwork "Cornelius sat bereft in his empty apartment." The Devil... Later he was said to feel lost without the artwork and declared all of it legally owned by him. He was to have said in an interview: "I want them back," the reclusive 80-year-old accused of hoarding a collection worth £850 million said in his first interview. Cornelius Gurlitt told Der Spiegel magazine that the paintings, including works by Marc Chagall, Otto Dix, Max Beckmann, Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, were his only source of pleasure...

                                                              Otto Dix

'What do these people want from me? I'm just a very quiet person. All I wanted to do was live with my pictures. I won't speak with them, and I won't voluntarily give back anything, no, no,' he told the magazine. 'When I'm dead, they can do with them what they want.''They have to come back to me,' Cornelius Gurlitt demands Nazi-era art hoard back  But he did start returning some works that had sketchy backgrounds.

                                                       Liebermann self-portrait

Vanity Fair Magazine in a wonderful piece written about the discovery of this large body of work entitled: "The Devil and The Art Dealer" describes the reclusive collector and how the art was found. "Cornelius Gurlitt was a ghost. He had told the officer that he had an apartment in Munich, although his residence—where he pays taxes—was in Salzburg. But, according to newspaper reports, there was little record of his existence in Munich or anywhere in Germany. The customs and tax investigators, following up on the officer’s recommendation, discovered no state pension, no health insurance, no tax or employment records, no bank accounts—Gurlitt had apparently never had a job—and he wasn't even listed in the Munich phone book. This was truly an invisible man." The Devil and the Art Dealer

                “Woman in Blue in Front of a Fireplace,” circa 1937 by Henri Matisse     
(This piece was actually the first piece in works of art to be returned to their original owners by Gurlitt. This went to Anne Sinclair, a descendant of  the Paris-based art collector Paul Rosenberg who lost his art in Germany. Family, ‘Not Willing to Forget,’ Pursues Art It Lost to Nazis)                                        

                                               1921 painting Odalisque by Henri Matisse

In the article "The Devil and The Art Dealer" it goes on to say: "Then there was that name. Gurlitt. To those with knowledge of Germany’s art world during Hitler’s reign, and especially those now in the business of searching for Raubkunst—art looted by the Nazis—the name Gurlitt is significant: Hildebrand Gurlitt was a museum curator who, despite being a second-degree Mischling, a quarter Jewish, according to Nazi law, became one of the Nazis’ approved art dealers. During the Third Reich, he had amassed a large collection of Raubkunst,much of it from Jewish dealers and collectors. The investigators began to wonder: Was there a connection between Hildebrand Gurlitt and Cornelius Gurlitt? Cornelius had mentioned the art gallery on the train. Could he have been living off the quiet sale of artworks?" The Devil and The Art Dealer

                                                                Gustave Courbet 'Village Girl with Goat"

                                                             William Lachnit

                                                          Bernhard Kretzschmar (an unknown work of his, he was a Dresden resident who lost many of his work in the firestorm, 1889-1972)

The Nazis had considered much Modern work "Degenerate" and took it to try and cleanse their society from what they considered artwork done by diseased minds. These are works by Chagall, Matisse, Picasso, Renoir, Max Beckmann, Otto Dix and others.  Again the article "The Devil and The Art Dealer" explains this well: "...a tragic saga, which begins in 1892 with the publication of the physician and social critic Max Nordau’s book Entartung (Degeneration). In it, he postulated that some of the new art and literature that was appearing in fin de siècle Europe was the product of diseased minds." The Devil And....

 So for us, The World, this artwork has been "set free" and we get to enjoy it, again.


Don Quichote and Sancho Panza, by Honoré Daumier



Eugene Delacroix (1798-1863)


Girl at a Table, by Wilhelm Lachnit




For further follow up on this story read this article on how in the final days of Gurlitt's life he decided to redeem his name and his father's and have the works either returned to original heirs of owners and the rest donated to a Swiss Museum: Inside the Deathbed Deal With Cornelius Gurlitt to Return Art Looted by Nazis