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(Archive) Crafted Liberation

From headscarves to stadium seats, Crafted Liberation celebrates Iranian Women's resilience in the pursuit of gender equality

This project was part of DDW 2023

Crafted Liberation is an exhibition showing unity and empowerment among women of Iran. With headscarves donated by Iranian women globally, we transform them into stadium seats composed of recycled headscarves, telling stories of their struggle against political and societal constraints.

Collective Action to Initiate Change

Gender inequality and restrictions on women's freedoms have been persistent issues in Iran for years. Crafted Liberation was conceived as a direct response to the recent tragic death of Mahsa Amini. At 22 years old, Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish-Iranian woman, was arrested and died in Iranian ‘moral’ police custody in 2022 due to an improper headscarf violation. Her death sparked widespread protests among Iranian women worldwide, demanding justice for Amini, despite the risk of arrest and persecution.

To voice for those often silenced, we launched a collective call for action, inviting Iranian women globally to donate their unwanted headscarves for this transformative project. Their contributions led to the creation of the exhibited stadium seats and collectively we transform a traditional symbol of oppression to a beacon of empowerment.

Stadium Seats As Objects of Empowerment

Since 1981, Iranian women have been banned from attending men's sporting events in stadiums, justified by preserving modesty and gender segregation. We aim to redefine these seats by crafting a grandstand from donated headscarves. It symbolizes rejection of deep-rooted oppression and the empowerment of women.

Using a combination of lamination and compression moulding techniques, we created a unique material by combining the donated headscarves with recycled polymers, while honoring the composite materials traditionally used in stadium seat construction. The mixed materials are transformed into sheets and formed into bucket seats, through Talon Technology’s 'WasticFibre’ process.

The headscarves donated by Iranian women enable us to create the grandstand, embodying the shift from enforced tradition to empowered liberation. Our vision is to reimagine a future where headscarves are a matter of personal choice, not compulsion, and where every Iranian woman enjoys equal rights and freedoms.

Collaboration with Innovative Australian Manufacturing Partners

This exhibition was made possible through collaboration with Australian manufacturing partners, Talon Technology and Defy Design. Nila Rezaei, an award-winning designer with a deep commitment to positive societal and environmental impact, was pivotal in forging this partnership.

We worked closely with Talon Technology, harnessing their expertise in developing innovative materials and products often involving fiber technologies. Talon’s initiative, 'LPM: Local Plastic Microfactory' aims at making recycling accessible in small communities. LPM’s patented 'WasticFibre' process, which combines waste plastic bags with textiles to create flexible composite sheets, enabled shaping the iconic bucket seats that now form the heart of our exhibition.

Our collaboration with Defy Design, specialists in crafting impactful products from recycled plastic waste, provided invaluable insights and access to facilities for process and material experimentation. Nila's vision and dedication, alongside our partners' capabilities, transformed a concept into a tangible reality, allowing us to present ‘Crafted Liberation’, a testament to the power of collaboration, innovation, and artistic expression.