‘Eyes on Iran’ art activation in New York directs urgent attention to the United Nations

Including work by JR and Shirin Neshat, ‘Eyes on Iran’ is a group public art activation in New York timed for the UN initiative, 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence

image of eye painted onto steps, new york skyline in background 'Eyes on Iran' against gender-based violence
Shirin Neshat, Offered Eyes, 1993 on the stairs at New York’s FDR Four Freedoms State Park
(Image credit: Courtesy For Freedoms. Photography: Austin Paz)

Unveiled on 28 November 2022, Eyes on Iran is a multifaceted public art installation, punctuating the spaces of New York’s FDR Four Freedoms State Park. Eye motifs have been staged in different scales throughout the park to examine the power of collective sight, with eyes facing the UN, signifying the world’s eyes on Iran.

In attendance at the opening ceremony for the exhibition, which took place yesterday, were former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, human rights lawyer and project director at the Atlantic Council Gissou Nia, as well as artists and singers supporting the liberation of women in Iran. The installation runs in line with both the UN initiative, ‘16 days of activism against Gender-Based Violence’ (25 November until Human Rights Day on 10 December 2022). And with the goal to amplify the mission of ‘Woman, Life, Freedom’ – a global campaign demanding that the Islamic Republic of Iran be removed from the Commission on the Status of Women, the UN's dedicated gender equality branch.  

pink painting of clutched fist with burning fabric, canvas in public space

Sheida Soleimani, Mahsa, 2022. On show at New York’s FDR Four Freedoms State Park

(Image credit: Courtesy For Freedoms. Photography: Austin Paz)

Artworks in the park have been created by Iranian artists Sheida Soleimani, Aphrodite Désirée Navab, Z, Icy and Sot, Shirin Neshat, Mahvash Mostala, Sepideh Mehraban, and Shirin Towfiq, conceptual artist and co-founder of For Freedoms Hank Willis Thomas, and French artist JR. 

Throughout the installation’s brief lifespan, billboards will be flown over New York on 3 December, and during Miami Art Week 2022 featuring works by Hank Willis Thomas and Mahvash Mostala. Within the park, an interactive installation by artist JR will take place on 4 December. 

On the wider role of the show, artist Shirin Neshat remarks ‘many artists throughout the diaspora (...are presenting) our vision to ensure international audiences and institutions remain aware of what is happening in Iran and feel moved to respond.’

'Eyes on Iran' runs until 1 January 2022 at the FDR Four Freedoms State Park, New York. forfreedoms.com (opens in new tab)

brick on floor, new york skyline in background

Icy & Sot, Bricks of a revolution, 2022. On show at New York’s FDR Four Freedoms State Park

(Image credit: Courtesy For Freedoms. Photography: Austin Paz)

land on left hand side, water on right hand side, new york skyline in background

Z, Baraye, 2022, facing the United Nations building in New York. On show at New York’s FDR Four Freedoms State Park

(Image credit: Courtesy For Freedoms. Photography: Austin Paz)

trees in two lines with green and white painted bandanas tied to them

Aphrodite Désirée Navab, Uproot the Roots, Rise up: Woman/Zan, 2022. On show at New York’s FDR Four Freedoms State Park

(Image credit: Courtesy For Freedoms. Photography: Austin Paz)

Martha Elliott is the Junior Digital News Editor at Wallpaper*. After graduating from university she worked in arts-based behavioural therapy, then embarked on a career in journalism, joining Wallpaper* at the start of 2022. She reports on art, design and architecture, as well as covering regular news stories across all channels.