Welcoming In The Front Door


Welcoming In The Front Door


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Elisabeth Friedman


My research and my studio practice are on the concepts of home, our displacement from it, and the suffering that is endured inside or outside of it. I believe that our bodies, our domestic spaces, and our home countries function as three parallel homes on different levels. Our definitions of these three ideas of home are related to our definition of Us versus Others. These definitions and their relationship to borders and boundaries can be problematic and cause otherness and cultural alienation. The borders, and the lines we draw around ourselves and others also leave open possibilities for authorities to enforce unjust laws; even obviously brutal and antihuman ones suffer from a lack of public awareness. This is the case with the current regime of my country, Iran. The homeland that I left behind three years ago. This experience of displacement and of residing in a foreign land for the first time has shaped the path I took in my research, though it was not my first experience of displacement as a female artist from Iran. In my country, living under the dictatorship of the Ayatollahs has meant most of us Iranians, are already strangers in our own homeland: a primary displacement from our own government. The regime in Iran is actively and blatantly fighting our traditions and culture to replace them with their own so-called ‘purified’ version. Laws inside the country are fundamentally designed against us, and international laws do not extend far enough. Borders and boundaries create a paradox in which they provide safety while creating a barrier to aid if one is in need. The contradiction between these concepts is expressed in my paintings through vulnerability, flesh, fluids, and open lacerations in contrast with the durability of the cold, rusty, and earthy nature of the metal doors. I use the imagery of metal doors to talk about what is going on behind the “closed doors” of domestic spaces on one level and to evoke the severe and ongoing brutality towards women within the borders of my country on another level. My doors function as the household’s skin, conveying information about those inside. Through their damage and oxidation, they depict possible scars, traumas, and lacerations suffered by family members within. The overall goal of my research is to attract attention to the human rights violations in Iran, especially towards women, in hopes of putting an end to them.


Funded in part by Illinois State University Friends of the Arts.

Welcoming In The Front Door