A new generation of artists is taking to the streets of Tehran. Armed with paint brush, spray can and a desire for self-expression, their street art has become increasingly popular and widespread in Iran over the past decade.
One anonymous underground artist, known as Black Hand, has been garnering media attention both domestically and internationally and drawing comparisons to famous British graffiti artist Bansky for the subversive and often satirical socio-political commentary implicit in both artists’ work. Popping up on public walls across the city, Black Hand’s stencil graffiti is created for a public audience largely excluded from the private galleries and elite gatherings of the Iranian art world.
Inspired by current events, Black Hand recently told the Guardian, “I work on the issues that are happening in my country. We wake up with them, we live with them and we sleep with them. Art aside, being able to express these issues by itself can help you find peace.”
The issue of sexism was at the forefront of one of the artist’s latest works. While Iranians were gripped with World Cup fever, Black Hand drew the figure of a woman dressed in Iran’s national jersey and rubber gloves holding dish soap above her head in a triumphant pose. This satirical piece was an open condemnation of the status of women in Iran and the ban imposed on them at football stadiums. While the authorities were quick to paint it over, Black Hand had the last laugh returning to the same spot just hours later with a new graffiti entitled “The End”.
Black Hand – 1, Censorship – 0