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I AM – About the participants

If women in a society are not free, no one is free. Everyone should realize this.


If women are not free to make their own choices, if they do not have the right to self-determination, there is gender inequality. Gender inequality is a result of existing social systems and often leads to oppression, persecution and violence. Women in Southwest Asia are fighting for freedom and equality to pave the way for future generations so that their daughters can study, work and live in freedom.


The exhibition shows portraits of strong women by the participants below.


The title 'I am' refers to the protest action that arose worldwide after the 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman Jina Mahsa Amini was arrested by the moral police in Iran in September 2022 because she wore her headscarf too loose. She had to pay for it with death. Women all over the world showed solidarity, took to the streets and chanted 'Woman, life, freedom', cut off a lock of their hair and took selfies 'I am' (Jina Mahsa Amini). However, 'I am' also refers to statements by William Shakespeare, 'I think, therefore I am', and René Descartes, 'Cogito ergo sum', or 'I think, therefore I am'.


Maryam Yazdani made the self-portrait I am in 2022, inspired by the above-mentioned protest actions. It is shown with the poem Vrijheid (freedom) by Gerry Toenders from Oirschot.

Yazdani also shows a video about gender inequality and works from the series Ignored (2018), about women from traditional societies who stand up for their ambitions and rights. The series depicts contradictions such as femininity and strength, freedom and oppression, tradition and modern, dark and light.


Photographer Maryam Yazdani (1975) grew up in Iran, studied graphic design, photography and art in Tehran and conceptual photography at the Fotovakschool in Boxtel. She lives in Eindhoven.


Gilda Wilpstra Gouhari incorporated several photos of Maryam Yazdani from the series  Ignored and her own cut braids in the sculpture Woman, Life, Freedom, also in solidarity with Jina Masha Amini.


Visual artist Gilda Wilpstra Gouhari (1975) grew up in Iran, studied graphic design, photography and art in Tehran. She lives in Assen.



Maryam Saeedpoor posted portraits of women without a headscarf on social media, against a background of traditional carpets, thus establishing a relationship with tradition. “Apart from the religious aspect, the hijab (headscarf) is part of Iranian tradition, as is the Iranian carpet. Wearing a headscarf has been made mandatory by the government and this creates a division in society. If women were free to make their own choices, women in Iran would live peacefully side by side.”


Photographer Maryam Saeedpoor (1984) studied photojournalism and art and photography in Tehran (Iran). She lives in Tehran.



Shaghayegh Moradiannejad paid attention to Women of Afghanistan with poetic images. “Despite the heavy burden of years of war on the shoulders of women in Afghanistan, the women strive for freedom, even though they wear a burqa.”


Social documentary photographer Shaghayegh Moradiannejad (1979) grew up in Iran, studied agricultural engineering in Tehran, media and journalism in Denmark. She lives in Canada.


A photographer in Iran who wishes to remain anonymous made the series Eye (Iran, 2022-2023): Portraits of women and also of men who had the courage to demonstrate against the regime and were deliberately injured in one of the eyes by the security service. In this way they are stigmatized as demonstrators. Doctors in hospitals are prohibited from providing medical care to protesters. Many victims have fled the country.


The Roulah Foundation logo refers to the non-profit organization dedicated to helping women, children and marginalized groups, providing safety, education and assistance in ending violence against women.


Marielle van Uitert traveled to Bangladesh/Dhaka in 2014 to draw attention to the plight of women who suffered from an attack with hydrochloric acid.

Portraits of women who have suffered from an attack with hydrochloric acid.

With the attack, the perpetrator deliberately damages the beauty of the woman he wants to possess so that no one else wants her. The women's stories show that they continue their ambitions after years of revalidation. Van Uitert gave the series the name Just Perfect.


Documentary photographer Marielle van Uitert (1973) attended the Fotovakschool in Amsterdam and Boxtel, made various reports in war zones in Southwest Asia and South America. She lives in Vught.



Martin & Inge Riebeek have been working for years on the series The Essential, in which they ask interesting people in cities all over the world what the essence of life is for them. For I AM, under the name Power, they selected six video portraits of strong women who show their resilience despite their (traumatic) experiences with gender inequality. Most of them now live elsewhere.


The artist duo Martin (1957) and Inge (1964) Riebeek have been working together on the series The Essential since 2010. Both studied at the St. Joost art academy in Breda, the city where they live.


With Beyond the veil (2019), Malina Suliman shows an installation with video, audio and textiles. The fabrics of burqas are painted in calligraphy with wishes of the Afghan people. The burqas are handmade and testify to craftsmanship but also to the maintenance of women's separation in society. In both videos, women walk in Afghan burqas. One film shows the reaction of bystanders in Afghanistan, the other the reaction of bystanders in Amsterdam. Wishes from passers-by in Afghanistan and wishes from passers-by in Amsterdam can be heard via loudspeakers.


Visual artist Malina Suliman (1990) grew up in Afghanistan, studied at art academies in Karachi (Pakistan), Mumbai (India), ArtEZ (Arnhem) and Jan van Eyck (Maastricht). She lives in Eindhoven.


With Shame Less, Lina Geoushy presents portraits of women who participated in her research into systematic sexual violence against women in Egypt, both verbal and physical.

Courageous women talk about their experiences in a patriarchal society where their stories are not heard.


Visual artist and photographer Lina Geoushy (1990) grew up in Egypt and studied photojournalism and documentary photography in London. She lives alternately in London and Cairo.


The photo report Jinwar. The village of free women (2019, photographer unknown) gives an impression of life in the Jinwar commune in northern Syria (Kobane), where only women live with their children. The women carry out all the work themselves, both in construction and on the land. Besides work, there is time for education, discussion and relaxation. Jineolojî, the science that studies what a free society can look like, forms the basis for life in Jinwar.


Jineolojî encourages women to explore their histories, circumstances, dreams and struggles and gain greater self-awareness. Jineolojî is more than an academic theory. Jineolojî encompasses all areas of society. Jineolojî is living and learning through practice and reflection. Jineolojî strives for a society that takes into account the needs of all living beings, so that people and nature can live together sustainably.


The term Jineolojî was coined by the Kurdish leader Äbdullah Öcalan. 'Jin' is the Kurdish word for 'woman'. 'Jinelojî' is the 'science of women and life'. 'Jîyan' means 'life'. In these words, women and life are inextricably linked. And it is especially the Kurdish women's movement that gives meaning to the word Jineolojî.


In the context of the exhibition 'I AM', the Eindhoven Kobanê working group of Vredesburo Eindhoven, together with Jineolojî Center Brussels, is organizing a Jineolojî workshop at Pennings Foundation on Friday, April 19, 2024.



The group exhibition I AM is on show until June 1, 2024.

Want to know more about Jineolojî? Register here for the workshop on Friday April 19, 2024.

Want to make your own cyanotype inspired by the exhibition's themes of freedom and gender inequality? Click here for information and registration for the workshop on Saturday April 13, 2024.

Photos exhibition: Lieke Winters, Martin Riebeek (Power)

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