Another Utopia

Photographic impressions by Fatemeh Rezaie and Nina Mokhtarbaf

Location: Altenessener Str. 77, 45141 Essen

Exhibition Opening: 8.03.2023 at 6:00 pm

Duration: 8. – 18.03.2023

Opening hours: Weekdays 4:00–7:00 pm

Organized by Academy in Exile in cooperation with the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities (KWI) Essen, the Folkwang University.

About the artworks:

Ajenda (2021–2022), The Stranger

Fatemeh Rezaie

After the Taliban took power in August 2021, many people were forced to flee Afghanistan. In particular, women had to leave their homeland because of the threat of persecution and the exposure to acts of revenge and violence. Many women went into hiding because of their previous positions, opinions, and political and social activities. The ones who decided to leave their home are now stranded in a new environment, facing challenges that include having to cope with new social and economic roles, different community structures, and the lack of familiarity with the working practices.
At the same time, they seek to reconstruct familiar lifestyles because their wearing of the hijab is not accepted by the new society.
In this sense, women are both agents of change and sources of continuity and tradition, but in the new society, they cannot have both. Therefore, they either try to find a new identity or stay at home away from society, isolated with their old way of thinking.

As a photographer, Fatemeh Rezaie decided to depict this issue, with the goal of expressing the problems that exist even after emigrating from Afghanistan.

A Battle of Life

Nina Mokhtarbaf

Daily battles are one aspect of the young female athlete’s daily life.

Shabnam Shahrokhi is a woman who has proven that hard work, determination, and hope are always the factors of success. 

Shabnam was born into a large extended family in 1981. As long as she was living with her family and her strict father, she was not able to start her professional career. 

She started kickboxing at the age of 26 and met Picasso, a professional kickboxer fighting in the German league, who became her coach.

Individual awards earned during her career include a silver medal at the international championships in Spain in 2013, a silver medal at the international championships in Portugal in 2014, and a silver medal in mixed martial arts.

Although Shabnam is a mother and has a busy personal life, she had to prioritize and focus on getting physically ready to participate in a 2017 competition. 

In her job as a women’s sports photographer, Nina Moktharbaf has noticed that female athletes need something that goes beyond hard work and training to win. 

Not only do female athletes lack support, but they are also struggling hard to participate in competitions on their own. 

Shabnam is always trying to be the best she can be, and she looks forward to a future where women can make their paths easier through the continued efforts of the women before them.