Negar Ahkami, an American artist and the daughter of Iranian immigrants, grew up in the suburbs of New York City and uses the negotiation of her cultural heritage as impetus for her art making. In Persian Dolls, Ahkami takes the traditional form of Russian matryoshka (nesting) dolls and “Iranifies” them. The outermost figure is cloaked in the typical black chador of the Islamic Republic, reflecting Western stereotypes of Iranian women. As each smaller doll emerges from inside the larger, the women become both younger and more Western, showing the multiple ways in which Iranian women align themselves with beauty culture under the rule of law that forces them to cover in public. Through the structure of the multilayered matryoshka doll, Akhami reveals the complex existences of the women of Iran.
Persian Dolls, 2009
Hand-painted sculptures on shelf
Courtesy Leila Taghinia-Milani
Photo David Plakke