Samaneh Atef

Out of place​

Vernissage: Wednesday November 8, 2023 – 6:30 pm

On view: November 9 – December 22, 2023

After the stop in Turin, at GliAcrobati gallery, Samaneh Atef arrives in Milan at Maroncelli 12 with the exhibition “Fuori posto / Out of place”. The Iranian artist (1989, Bandar Abbas, Islamic Republic of Iran) presents around twenty works, in an obsessive repetition of graphic signs, suspended between the dramatic and fairy-tale, which investigate the intimate and profound dimension of women and denounce their wounds and abuses.

Samaneh studied Software Engineering Technology and sought her independence by initially working as an engineer with difficulty, in an often ostile family and social context. In a moment of depression she discovers Frida Kahlo’s painting and how the Mexican artist trasformed her life and her suffering into a power visual language. And so she began to paint, as a self-taught artist. Atef’s work also focuses on women but it eliminates their power and femininity. The artist depicts the universal feminine and all the difficulties it had to face. The naked body is both a place of punishment and a weapon. The emphasis of numerous eyes refers to Nazar amulets as a symbol of salvation: the (blue) eye has the power to ward off the devil’s eye. Her art is not compatible with the mullahs’ regime. Atef is forced to flee the country. Since 2020 she had lived in exile in Lyon, also following an internal exile before her escape. Expatriate woman: she feels “out of place” both in the Western artistic culture that hosts her and in relation to the theocratic country of origin from which she managed to escape. 

“The originality of Samaneh’s work – the art historian Bianca Tosatti writes in the text in the gallery catalog – appears in the mnemonic glimpses of her trance in which pain and suffering emerge as closely intertwind with the matter of her being a female. She is a female with a bleeding body with a wound that expels ob-scene interiority, a generative destiny imposed and betrayed, full of surgeries and amputations. She is also a female as a collective subject, a woman made up of an anonymous swarm of women, with innumerable bodies… because all experiences of great depth require intermittences of brooding thought, fatigue and pain, repetition and return”. And again: “Infact there is the hand that repeats small notches like the seamstresses repeat the stitches of an embroidery whose general design cannot be controlled. This is a bit like what happens in the carpets, in which everything speaks and at the same time hides, everything is connected, ecverythings enters something else in a fabric in which the crescents of the moon, the constellations, the tendrils and flowers, men and animals… all pass through each other”.

We are honored to have brought to Italy, in collaboration with GliAcrobati gallery the work of this artist which allows us not only to admire the originality of her creations but also to keep the focus of the international community on the cruel reality of the Iranian dictatorship. One year after the murder of Mahasa Amini by the hands of the moral police, another young woman, Armita Geravand, 16, was placed in a coma because she was not veiled, just a few days before the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to women’s rights activist Narges Mohammadi, imprisoned by the Iranian authorities since May 2016. “Woman, life, freedom” is not only the protes cry of Iranian women but the motto we make our own with this exhibition.