It is so strange and terrible to see how the latest world events have brought the reality told by Mana Neyestani — that of his country, Iran — closer and closer to ours. In one of the descriptions of his images, the author apologizes for not having given an explanation because his activity was too concentrated on the recent facts of his country. We are in November 2019, and the illustration shows a girl flying a kite, chased by a man in uniform who tries to cage it. Perhaps today that image no longer needs any explanation.
Dreams stolen from childhood, and not only, are a recurring theme in Mana’s work. The ability to think and imagine things in a different way, to see colors in a time that turns increasingly gray. Everything that today is viewed more as a moving and pathetic scene than a heroic gesture. As something annoying and counterproductive, to be trampled at any cost.
Born in 1973, in Tehran, Iran, in his An Iranian Metamorphosis book Mana exposes the complex interplay between art, law, politics, ethnic sensitivities, and authoritarian elements inside of Iran’s Islamic Republic. His journey to escape imprisonment, led him to travel from Iran to Dubai, Turkey, Malaysia, all the way to China. Along the way he shines a light on the dangerous and convoluted measures taken by refugees in their attempts to find safety and freedom. His story is at once unique, universal, and truly Kafkaesque.
“There is always that risk, that possibility, that the authorities will find a political dimension to your drawings,” he said to Le Monde. And today, this seems to fatally apply to every single word of every single person on this planet.