Mahsa Amini: high school teachers save work depicting the young Iranian martyr - FB


Mahsa Amini: high school teachers save work depicting the young Iranian martyr

The fragile recovery of one of the most symbolic and representative works of the XIV Florence Biennale made possible thanks to the intervention of the Liceo Artistico di Porta Romana (Florence). Call for a bronze copy

12 March 2024

The initiative was called 'Save Mahsa' and in the end everything went well. The work Mahsa Amini is saved. Once again, the expertise of Italian restorers saved international art.


The Direction of the Florence Biennale. International Exhibition of Contemporary Art and Design and the Liceo Artistico di Porta Romana (Florence) announce that they have completed the restoration and securing (cast and plaster cast) of the sculpture depicting the head of Mahsa Amini, a woman-symbol of the protests unleashed by the Iranian population against the regime following her killing for not wearing the hijab correctly.


The sculpture was created by Iranian artist Partin Bastan and his wife Marjan Najafi on the occasion of the XIV Florence Biennale, where it established itself as one of the most symbolic, powerful, and representative works on the theme "I Am You. Individual and Collective Identities in Contemporary Art and Design", so much so that it received a "Special Commendation from the Jury" and a worldwide media response: the video broadcast by the BBC in which the artist sculpts and models the work together with his wife, during the Florence Biennale, had millions of views.

The 'born' work on show at the Fortezza


Invited by the Florence Biennale to take part in the project 'I Am Mahsa. Women, Life, Freedom', Partin Bastan and his wife had come out of Iran, thanks also to the support of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Italia Foundation, which had provided accommodation for the couple. The two had then started sculpting the work as soon as they arrived in Florence, during the days of the exhibition, continuing the work in progress for almost the entire duration of the event. In particular, during the presentation of the 'I Am Mahsa' project, the live sculpting turned into an impressive performance, realised while various Iranian women artists and designers recounted their dramatic experiences live and a moving singing performance and the screening of the film 'I Pity My Garden' by Hamed Momenighomi, inspired by the poem of the same name by the Iranian writer Forugh Farrokhzad, took place.

Italy 'adopts' the sculpture


Considering the danger of their return home following the media exposure, the artist and his wife left immediately after the end of the event to seek refuge in another European country and entrusted the work to the Florence Biennale.


Within a few weeks, however, the sculpture had progressively and rapidly deteriorated, revealing cracks that were on the verge of shattering the work. Thanks to the intervention of the teachers at the Liceo Artistico di Porta Romana - in particular Claudia Chianucci, Elena Quirini and Rocco Spina, who immediately made themselves available for restoration work and plaster casts - the work was saved: "When Mr Cordoni (Event Manager of the Biennale, ed.) contacted us, accepting his request was an honour and a duty for us. We had admired Partin Bastan's sculpture during our visit to the Florence Biennale in October, together with our students. And we had reflected on the significance of Mahsa's gesture and courage, as well as that of the artist who, through his work, bore witness and passed on the memory. It was a formative moment of great significance that accompanied our reflections even in the days following the visit. Occasions like this, where school meets art in the service of human rights, have great educational and cultural value. Being able to show the children the work needed to safeguard Mahsa's sculpture was an important experience that left a mark and showed how culture, and with it art, is still the most powerful weapon and response against violence".

The Artist thanks and reports


Huge satisfaction from the artist, who stated: "It was a great honour for me to create the sculpture of Mahsa Amini in the presence of respected artists and visitors to the Florence Biennale, which had participants from all over the world and hosted the performance together with my wife. Now the professors of the Liceo Artistico di Porta Romana have restored this important sculpture. The world witnessed that the revolutionary movement 'Women, Life, Freedom' moved with great strength and breadth with the presence of women and the Iranian people after the killing of Mahsa-Gina Amini because of the mandatory hijab. Our people demand and deserve to live, security, gender equality, economic prosperity and democracy. The Iranian people are engaged in a silent war, and the government, by plunging people into poverty, creating terror, fear and executions, is trying to silence the voice of the people, and incredibly, we are witnessing countless casualties every day in our country. The name Mahsa-Gina Amini is a symbol of light that has emerged from the darkness and will continue. My wife and I, as artists, felt it our duty to show our role in this journey with our art in creating Mahsa's innocent face and draw the world's attention to the violation of women's rights and human rights in Iran. Florence Biennale's philanthropic and courageous role in this regard is highly commendable, while many organisations have chosen silence and tolerance towards the oppressors in this regard. With the hope that we can all win on the road to peace and preserve equal rights of human beings worldwide".

The call


And it is precisely to make this hope even stronger and more tangible that the organisers of the Florence Biennale are making a call to institutions and private individuals to support the final phase of this project, hoping that the work will be cast in bronze and finally placed in a public context that guarantees its usability not only for the citizens of Florence, but also for tourists and visitors from all over the world, promoting peace, women's rights and, more generally, respect for human rights with the highest conviction.