Mashid Mohadjerin Exhibition, Freedom is Not Free, Opening Soon at Pananti Atelier in Milan

Curated by art consulting duo Twenty14, this latest show by Mashid Mohadjerin will explore the overlapping nature of the private and the public with a focus on the life of Iranian women who grew up after the Revolution of 1979. The opening night is on 16th November.

"Freedom is not Free" is the title of the upcoming solo exhibition of Iranian photographer Mashid Mohadjerin. The exhibition will take place at Pananti Atelier, under the curatorship of Twenty14. "Freedom is not Free" will open on November 16th 2021 and remain on show up until February 28th 2022. This will be part of the collateral events of the Photo Vogue Festival.

The project is the result of the homonymous artist monograph, which won the Rencontres d’Arles Author’s Book Award in 2021. In her long-lasting work, the artist navigates issues such as social injustice, displacement, and resistance, showing the complex dynamics at the base of the formulation of cultural identity.

In her work, Mashid Mohadjerin narrates the stories of women in resistance in the Middle East and North Africa. Her approach is multi-disciplinary, as it combines photography, text, collage, and archival images. Such a mixture blurs the clear-cut margins of time and space, creating a plurality in voices and experiences that finds a fecund common ground within the quest for self-determination. 

In particular, "Freedom is not Free" explores the intersecting nature of the private and public experiences of Iranian women who grew up after the Revolution of 1979, which is a key historical event that resulted in the implementation of an Islamic republic in Iran. Mohadjerin’s work finds a strong connection with the slogan and core argument employed by second-wave feminists, which claimed that “the private is political”. In fact, Mohadjerin illustrates how the agency of the women she depicts is profoundly conditioned by written and unwritten social norms that consolidated as a consequence of the Revolution, which still informs the life of Iranian women today. Furthermore, Mohadjerin questions the boundaries existing between her own life and those of other compatriot women, as she selects settings that represent meaningful points of reference in relation to her childhood.

This body of work unhinges the division between present and past, public and private, subject and object, and agency and structure.

The decision to often represent the subjects with their faces covered leads the viewer to reflect upon the very title of this exhibition. These faces are not only covered by the Islamic headscarf, but in Mohadjerin’s shots they are further obscured by flowers, bodily position, or waterpipe’s smoke. Ultimately, is freedom free?

In a reality where architectures are enveloped in futuristic lights, people have access to cosmetic surgery and higher standards of beauty are established, and new modalities of socialisation flourish, freedom is not straightforwardly free. In addition, although the information flow is ever faster, something is lost in translation.

This project shows how Iranian women are now navigating their bodies, their choices, and their actions in a time of change that is bound to past events and storylines, whilst being in motion towards new horizons that are conditioned by globalisation and social mobility.


All works © Mashid Mohadjerin from Freedom is not Free


Below you can find all the practical info.

Where: Pananti Atelier, Via A. Saffi 9, Milan, Italy

When: 17 November - 18 February 2021

Opening: 16 November 2021


Mashid Mohadjerin is an Iranian photojournalist and portrait photographer based in Belgium. Her work looks at the boundaries between art and documentary photography, focusing on social injustice, identity, and resistance. Follow her on Instagram.

Twenty14 is a Milan-based duo dedicated to curatorship and art consulting in the contemporary art world, for private clients and public institutions, companies and collectors. Follow them on Instagram.

Pananti Atelier is an art gallery and Milanese headquarter of Pananti's auction house, founded in 1968 in Florence.

Sofia Galli is a writer, poet, and expert in heritage studies. She studied at the University of Aberdeen and at the University of Amsterdam. Her focuses include the relationship between art and politics, the theory of mobilities in exhibitions, and the examination of expositions in non-canonical spaces. Follow her on Instagram.

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