Sara Jamshidi | Essays

Black Hand: Iranian Banksy?

A few weeks ago Black Hand — an Iranian graffiti artist — painted an image of a young woman wearing Iran’s soccer national team’s jersey and raising a bottle of dish-washing soap (called Jaam which means championship cup in Farsi). The graffiti refers to prohibiting Iranian women from going to stadiums to support their teams and reinforces a political culture that encourages women to stay at home.

It didn’t take the government too long to cover Black Hand’s graffiti with red paint, and soon enough the whole wall was covered. But the conversation continued on social media when the people of Tehran saw a new painting on the exact place by someone who might be their very own Banksy. This new artwork employed the same collage and painting style and showed a bearded man with a conservative shirt— closely resembling the same people who painted over his original graffiti.

According to IranWire, in April 2014 Black Hand exhibited his work on the walls of a historical building in central Tehran, devoting each room to a unique social issue. Iranian artists use graffiti and street art, among other media, both to express themselves and negotiate public space to discuss social issues.  Black Hand is only one of the numerous underground artists in Iran and his exhibition is neither the first — nor will it be the last — underground exhibition of its kind. 

“This white wall is not white.”

“Enough fighting, continue with diplomacy.”

Posted in: Arts + Culture, Social Good

Comments [2]

It amazes me that we have countries and religious entities in 2014 that still view women as property. It boggles my mind. Thanks go out to Black Hand for fighting the good fight.
Marissa Groom

Thank you for this post. I love it and always find it fascinating to hear of new artists around the world expressing and making known social issues that are still so prevalent all around us. Over the past year I have been following Banksy more and more and was exciting to come across this post about Black Hand. Although a lot of graffiti can be ugly and an eyesore, it always gets me excited when Banksy or artists such as Black Hand appear with a new piece. I am glad to see that people are still expressing themselves in none violent ways and doing it in such creative and beautiful ways. It will be interesting to see what other campaigns underground artists will come up with in the near future and also where they will be popping up? And as you put in your post, “both to express themselves and negotiate public space to discuss social issues.”, it will also be interesting to see if there will be more works popping up that hit on social issues or will it be more about the artist themselves? Again thank you for this post it brings up a lot to explore and to think about in the increasing underground works of all of these artists.
Jon Paul White

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