From Jenny Wenhammar Portrait Series on Femen Goddesses on display at De Balie #CelebratingDissent Festival in Amsterdam during 30 August – 1 September 2019. Here Jenny explains the portrait:

Maryam Namazie has challenged the Islamist war on women’s bodies covering her naked body with the Islamist flag of Iran ripped apart. Exposing her breast instead of the stylised Iranian Islamist dictatorship centrepiece emblem in the name of Allah on the flag since forty years surrounded by the takbīr repeated twenty two times saying Allahu Akbar. Our answer is that Allah is not the greatest and not the only one.

In my portraits I add words and symbols that are important to the one portrayed.

Maryam Namazie chose the slogan NEITHER GOD, NOR MASTER and a phrase from a poem by Forough Farokhzad; I have sinned a pleasurable sin. Also written in Farsi. Two symbols she wanted was the pomegranate and the heart. So I have actually painted the portrait sitting beside a pomegranate tree, while studying its artistic use as a stylised vagina and discovering the history of this ancient Persian fruit and symbol – becoming fascinated with how the pomegranate is by some said to have been the original forbidden fruit Eve gave to Adam.

I also found that early crowns where made as stylised pomegranates. I decided to crown Maryam with a pomegranate crown and its orange flowers. I painted the pomegranate tree standing beside me standing beside Maryam, growing out of an organic heart, but when I showed this latest FEMEN GODDESSES painting to a De Balie staff member and asked her which symbols she saw, she saw a snake. As pictures come to me from I don’t-know-where while I’m painting, I’m amazed to now after finishing see how the organic heart can actually be seen as the head of a snake coming down from a tree, in transformation. Patriarchal religions turned female goddesses and symbols into diabolic representations, and the snake representing sexuality became a sin, where sexuality had before represented fertility and new life.

The facet pattern I chose for the tree/snake and Maryam’s left arm, and also all the hearts on the left side of the painting are to symbolize her heartful engagement for universal humanist values and diversity.
Last but not least; the flag of the Islamist republic in Iran on my portrait of Maryam Namazie glitter in the colours of the Pride flag.


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