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Research Network: Global Re-Visions

Talk Veiled Allusions Katy Shahandeh and Maria Kheirkhah

23 Jul 2020
  • Date

    Thursday 23 July 2020

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  • Admission

    Free, booking required

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Join us for a lecture with artist Katy Shahandeh and Maria Kheirkhah on the iconography of the veil in the works of contemporary female Iranian artists.

In the past four decades, the veil has come to represent a multitude of frequently opposing ideologies and is often used to emphasise women’s bodies as sites of social contention whereupon discordant visual signifiers compete. This presentation will examine the iconography and semantics of the veil in post-revolutionary Iranian visual culture and explore how women artists (both in Iran and the diaspora) use this signifier in their imagery to convey the situation of Iranian women and their paradoxical lives.

Watch the event recording


Katy Shahandeh is a PhD candidate (SOAS), teaching assistant (SOAS) and artist (mixed media painting). She has a Combined Honours BA in Philosophy and History of Art (UCL) and an MA (Distinction) in History of Art and Archaeology (SOAS). Her academic interest is in Contemporary Middle Eastern art and culture (with a focus on Contemporary Iran), and art that addresses the semiotics of gender, state and society. Her research is based on the works of contemporary Iranian women artists and is entitled: “Rising from the Ashes: The Semiotics of Subversion in the Works of Female Iranian Artists of the ‘Burnt Generation.’” She has presented a paper at “Symposia Iranica” at St Andrews University last April (2019) and is invited to present at the “The Association for Iranian Studies” at the University of Salamanca in Spain (August 2020), as well as at “The Association For Art History” at Newcastle and Northumberland Universities (April 2020).

Maria Kheirkhah is an Iranian-British artist whose work explores systems of knowledge, power and culture. Reflecting on her own multi-disciplinary art practice Kheirkhah investigates systems of representation through a practice which is generated by the interplay of history, politics and media within contemporary Western visual culture.

Kheirkhah’s research interests in the past decade have focused upon the impact of Orientalism and Islamophobia on women artists of the Muslim diaspora. Kheirkhah is an associate curator at 198 CAL and has initiated a series of curatorial works since 2010 championing the work of women artists underrepresented within the visual arts in the UK. Among her numerous exhibitions and presentations are: Portraits of a Belly Dancer, asc shopfronts (2006) | Conversation Pieces, 1001 questions, Tate Britain (2009) | The Psychology of Fear, 198 Gallery (2008) | PARAXIS: Art in Times of Uncertainty, Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary art, Greece (2009) | The Anatomy Of Ignorance, Current thinking, Tate Modern (2007) | Black & White, Passing Mediterranean Passing Muslim, Triangle Gallery (2019).

Image: Shadi Ghadirian, Like EveryDay Series, 2000-2002.