PE Ledger

Tours Canada PaykanArtCar: A Driving Force Against Human Rights Abuse

How one Iranian artist utilised the landmark Paykan as a canvas to express his dissatisfaction with oppression.

The Paykan, Iran’s first automobile, has been a beloved national symbol since the late 1960s. Even though the car was discontinued years ago, Paykans may still be seen on Tehran’s streets. Alireza Shojaian, an Iranian-born artist, chose the Paykan as his canvas for a work aimed to protest human rights abuses in his homeland because the car is such an iconic emblem.

In reality, the Paykan limousine he painted is the same one that the Shah of Iran presented to dictator Nicolae Ceausescu when he was elected president of Romania in 1974.

Shojaian painted the storey of Ali Fazeli Monfared, who was only 20 years old when his family beheaded him in an alleged “honour killing” for being gay on the car’s metal panels. Shojaian, a homosexual guy, was ordered to leave his homeland years ago, and there are many others like him.

“Living in a nation that limits its residents from showing their genuine, authentic selves, and even openly denies their existence, has driven many in our Middle Eastern LGBT community to live in exile,” he said in a press release.

Iran has a dreadful track record when it comes to LGBT rights. Fines, jail time, flogging, and even execution can be enforced for engaging in same-sex intercourse or relationships. However, there is strong internal opposition to the government’s limitations on Iran’s LGBT community.

It is from this repressive culture that Shojaian had to leave, and it is this culture that he is now addressing through his art. Shojaian has reclaimed a national icon by painting the Paykan, transforming it into a billboard with its own compelling message: that Iran, like any other country, has deep-seated human rights issues that it must address.

“With the PaykanArtCar, I wish to bring the beauty and emotion of gay culture that has long been concealed in the region to light, and in doing so, pave the path for a world that is more open to acceptance [and] tolerance” Shojaian added.

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