Home Without I: Constructing Humanity within Exile
Constricted by the totalitarian regime in Iran, humanity and individual dignity are often forsaken at the hands of the cultural schizophrenia afflicting their society. As such, enlightened thinkers and artists find themselves forced into exile in pursuit of the freedom mandated to create and evolve; a phenomenon manifested in the recent explosion of Iranian women writers and painters who work from America and Europe.
Examination of artworks by Iranian artists, prompts us toward defining an aesthetics of exile, both in the physical sense as well as the metaphysical. My paper explores the employment of tropes and their signifiers in order to consider the disparity between political and psychic exile, or if one even exists.
Given that these artists are forced to remain outside of their native lands in order to manufacture and sell their works, we must ask if the artist in exile can have a home. Can an Iranian be merely an expatriate or do international politics automatically render him or her an exile? As such, how do we distinguish between expatriate and exile? Could art escape such geo-political fetters so as to allow us a disinterested experience of a work without prejudicial influence invoked by the nationality of its creator?
Although living and creating in the West, often we find that these artists’ identities maintain an Iranian foundation. Thus, wherever they are, these Iranian artists yearn for a home that can no longer avail itself to them. Through this inspection, we find the significance of these works radiates not merely into dimensions of transnational politics, theology, and feminism. Rather, more importantly, they have the potential to posit a unique humanity to an Iranian society that finds its own savagely battered.
Keywords: Iran, Dignity, Humanity, Exile, Expatriate, Transnational Politics, Theology, Feminism, Diaspora, Aesthetics of Exile
PhD Student, Comparative Literature, University of California, Irvine