Marjane Satrapi on Resistance in Iran: ‘A Real Revolution Is Cultural’

Marjane Satrapi, whose graphic novel series, “Persepolis,” about growing up in and leaving Tehran, won her international acclaim and millions of book sales, turned away from the form two decades ago and hadn’t looked back since.

Then, in the fall of 2022, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman named Mahsa Amini was detained by Iran’s morality police for allegedly violating the country’s hijab law, which requires women and girls to cover their hair.

A photo of Amini bruised and bloodied in a hospital bed after her encounter with the police went viral. Days later, she died, and her country erupted. The Iranian government has said she died because of underlying health issues, but her family said that she had none, and that she died because she was beaten by police.

Women took to the streets and tore off their veils in what became known as the “Woman, Life, Freedom” movement, one of the most significant cultural and political moments in Iran since the 1979 revolution. It is a widespread demand for women’s freedom that has been joined by men.

To document the moment, Satrapi has released a graphic work of nonfiction called “Woman, Life, Freedom,” which explains the movement, as well as the history and cultural shifts that led there. Satrapi, 54, who lives in Paris, contributed some of her own drawings and writing, but her primary role was the book’s “director,” she said in a recent interview, which she described as a combination of curating and editing.

The book is a collaboration with journalists, academics, activists and artists, with a collection of different visual styles — a chapter on surveillance and government propaganda is drawn in black and white, while a section on forbidden small acts of daily living, like a woman going for a run or riding a motorbike, is rendered in beiges, reds and blues.

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