Utility Box on Enghelab Street

Hand-sewn tapestry made out of red organza, nylon thread, embroidery floss and beads. 4,36x2,30m. 2019.

After my stay at the Aria Residency in Tehran, Iran, I made a tapestry out of multiple layers of transparent organza based on one of the photos I took on the streets of Tehran.

The utility box in the image was used in protests in 2017 by the Girls of Enghelab Street, to protest the compulsary hijab and clothing restrictions for the people of Iran. On December 27th 2017, Vida Movahed climbed up onto this utility box, tied her headscarf onto a stick and wove it around to the crowd like a flag. She was arrested afterwards. Also, because of her actions, the government decided to install small rooftops onto the utility boxes so protesters can not climb on top of them anymore.

The utility boxes with their rooftops have become symbols of the protests held on top of them, silent relics of that what happened in the past. I wanted to honour those locations and the people (women and men) fighting for their rights.

The tapestry is made out of about 36 metres of red organza, 20 metres of embroidery floss, 10 glass beads and close to 400 metres of nylon sewing thread and is made entirely by hand.

Utility Box of Enghelab Street is part of the art collection of Museum de Fundatie, Zwolle, NL.

Above: on view at WG Kunst, Amsterdam, NL during the exhibition ‘Rebellen en Dwarsdenkers’, 2020. Below: on view in my studio in Utrecht.