300 Demonstrators Recreate the Hair of Iranian Teenager Nika Shahkarami


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French street artist JR is known for creating photorealistic installations around the globe, oftentimes using his art as a means of spreading awareness for important social-political causes. His latest project took place at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms State Park in New York City, where he organized 300 volunteers to recreate the black hair of Iranian teenager Nika Shahkarami. The 16-year-old was recorded burning headscarves in protests in Tehran against the conservative Islamic Republic regime on September 20, before she was reported missing. More than one week later, Shahkarami was confirmed dead, believed to have been killed by the Iranian security forces.

This tragedy follows the story of 22-year-old Mahsa Jina Amini, whose death by the morality police for wearing the hijab incorrectly sparked protests across the country. Shahkarami was one of the many women and girls who participated in the demonstrations, risking her life to combat the regime. JR honors her bravery with this installation, which was joined by many Iranian Americans. The participants were organized in such a way that their bodies completed the grayscale portrait of Shahkarami, becoming her mane of dark hair.

As the demonstrators created the image, they also chanted, “Women, Life, Freedom,” which derives from the Kurdish slogan used during the protests in Iran. The installation in New York City is the second creation of the image, after JR first assembled it in Brazi. He intends to continue the series to bring much-needed attention to what is happening in Iran. “Those three words—Woman, Life, Freedom—say it all,” JR said. “Everything I'm trying to do with my work is to summarize those words as an image, to bring photos of Nika alive, to make her hair longer and longer every city we go to.”

Street artist JR organized a demonstration at the Four Freedoms Park in NYC, where 300 people recreated the hair of Iranian teenager Nika Shahkarami, who was killed after participating in a protest against the conservative Islamic Republic regime.


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A post shared by JR (@jr)

JR: Website | Instagram | Facebook
h/t: [CNN]

All images via JR.

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Margherita Cole

Margherita Cole is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and illustrator based in Southern California. She holds a BA in Art History with a minor in Studio Art from Wofford College, and an MA in Illustration: Authorial Practice from Falmouth University in the UK. She wrote and illustrated an instructional art book about how to draw cartoons titled 'Cartooning Made Easy: Circle, Triangle, Square' that was published by Walter Foster in 2022.
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