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Solo Exhibitor 2020 – Samaneh Roghani (IR)

‘Roghani has created a very special and important work which presents an innovative approach to its constituent media (video, sculpture, installation) and notably manages to render the artist’s personal story moving, relevant, and significant. A unanimous jury was captivated by her ability to work formally and spatially while also convincingly and stringently coupling this to the work’s statement and content.’ The jury 2019

Last year’s jury decided to award the Iranian-born artist Samaneh Roghani (born 1984) the Charlottenborg Spring Exhibition’s Solo Award 2019 for her work Barzakh (Limbo). Based on the artist’s own personal story, the work addressed emigration, leaving your home country in order to pursue a better life, and taking a stand against inequality. According to the artist, her fears originate from having grown up under a regime that rules by instilling fear into individuals and citizens in order to keep them passive and submissive. Those who stand up to oppression and fight for justice end up in prison or may even be hanged.

For the Charlottenborg Spring Exhibition 2020, Roghani has created a new photo installation in two parts titled For the Silenced and For the Forgotten. The installation consists of self-portraits printed on ceramic tiles. Each tile represents a person, but also part of a prison wall. For the past year, Roghani has made numerous tiles and, for each one, she imagined herself being a prisoner unfairly locked up, carving notes and marking the days on the walls.

Some of the tiles hang in ropes from the ceiling and represent prisoners who have been imprisoned for a long time and perhaps forgotten. Those who got life sentences, for example. And those whose future is uncertain.

Other tiles show self-portraits of the artist with her eyes closed. They are placed around a pool filled with red liquid, symbolising those who were imprisoned and then executed or disappeared.

Like Roghani’s work Barzakh (Limbo), exhibited at the Charlottenborg Spring Exhibition 2019, the photo installation For the Silenced and For the Forgotten takes its inspiration from the artist’s personal story and experience of fear, which she elaborates as follows:

‘Fear is a feeling that I’ve lived with ever since I decided how I wanted to live my life and learned my rights as a woman. These matters can’t be taken for granted and attaining them is a struggle. There’s fear of being violently suppressed or ending up in prison. As experienced by countless others who have been engaged in this struggle, it can even lead to death.

Totalitarian regimes rule by fear and executing one person becomes an important method of silencing many more by the fear that it generates. Still, women and men put their lives at risk in demanding our rights, justice, and peace.

In Iran, the country where I come from, many women are imprisoned in bad conditions. Women who defended and fought for mine and other women's rights. Rights that the regime took away from us. Now they imprison us because they fear us.

I want to be a voice for those who are fighting against injustices and have been imprisoned just for demanding their rights.

For those who never came out of the dark prisons.

For those whose eyes never got the chance to open to the light again.

For those who never give up, who end up in prison, but maintain the hope of getting out to see the fruits of their labour.’

Samaneh Roghani lives and works in Malmö, Sweden. She holds a BA in Photography, Art & Architecture from the Faculty of Azad University, Tehran, Iran (2002–2007) and a BA of Fine Art from Malmö Art Academy, Lund University, Sweden (2015–2018). She is currently studying for an MA of Fine Art at Malmö Art Academy, Lund University, Sweden (2018–).