The project “Emergency Exit” manifested from stories of struggle, resistance and triumph during a field research in Iran in the spring of 2019. Those struggles faced by the people I met in Iran are a more obvious and sometimes macro versions of universal struggles: the fight for women rights, for economic stability, for workers rights and naturally, the struggle to be heard. Hence, the techniques of resistance, of refusal, of withstanding are also important to learn from. The nearly internationally adopted emergency exit sign here became a symbol of our shared reality. While remaining aware that sometimes we many in the west don’t feel these struggles in the same ways, the reality of our globalized world has made it so that at all times we are at one end or the other of the same battle. The sense of precarity, of uncertainty about the future, of being untethered, of insecurity is felt deeply by Iranians. Yet, their awareness of their precarity helps them to face their reality, to not accept the future that is forced upon them and to resist. Their refusal to sweep the dirt under the rug is what makes their path to revolution that much more palpable.
Dounya Salehi is a visual artist currently living and working in Berlin, Germany. She was born in Iran and immigrated to Canada as a child. Over the last 5 years Salehi has focused on how art can enter into and impact the space of everyday life. This interest has lead her to step outside of the safety of the White Cube and explore the diverse and the rich settings that public spaces have to offer. Participatory art, artistic interventions, public installation and performative research has been central to her artistic practice. Dounya considers making art as a way to respond to the world around her, to place some stones in the river in the hopes of slightly changing the course of the water.