Animated children’s stories by Nick Cave, Gary Numan, Will Oldham, Tom Waits, Laura Marling & more!

Cover illustration by Daniel Nayeri

Stories for Ways and Means is a new book that features original “grown up” children’s story collaborations by some of this era’s most compelling storytellers from the worlds of music and contemporary art. It’s being published by the long-running indie record label Waxploitation run by entrepreneur and photojournalist Jeff Antebi. The Stories for Ways and Means project lends support to several non-governmental organizations and nonprofit groups aiding children’s literacy causes around the world including Room to Read, Pencils of Promise, 826 National and many more.

Some of the featured musicians contributing to the project include Frank Black, Laura Marling, Del the Funky Homosapien, Gibby Haynes, Alec Empire, Kathleen Hanna, Devendra Banhart, Nick Cave, Alison Mosshart, Satomi Matsuzaki of Deerhoof, Will Oldham, Gary Numan and ska great, guitarist Ernest Ranglin.

You can order the Stories for Ways and Means book at

“The Lonely Giant,” narrated by Andre Royo (The Wire), written by Nick Cave, illustrated by Anthony Lister.
Many more after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger
08:44 am
‘How the World Went Mad’: A diagnosis of the confusing, topsy-turvy world of President Donald Trump

I could start with a nod to Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis by writing:

“Rupert Russell awoke one morning from unsettling dreams to find the world had gone mad.”

But that isn’t quite right and doesn’t fully describe the situation that filmmaker Russell found himself when he awoke on the morning of November 9th, 2016, to the news that Donald Trump had been elected the 45th President of the United States of America. Russell described it better himself:

“I felt a sense of unreality. That I had woken up on a different planet than the one I had gone to bed on.”

Seemingly, the world had had gone mad overnight. But how had this happened? And what had caused this strange insanity?

Russell wanted to understand what the fuck had just happened. He also wanted to do something about this new topsy-turvy world, where the lunatics had taken over the asylum. He was finishing work on his documentary feature Freedom for the Wolf. Nick Fraser, the editor of BBC’s Storyville, had come onboard as executive producer. Fraser had also just launched a new venture, Docsville, and asked Russell if he would like to make some short films for this new platform.

On the day after the election, Russell had written a Medium post on being sane in insane places inspired by the work of David Rosenhan, in particular his famous experiment in which he entered an asylum claiming he heard voices. The doctors and nurses had diagnosed Rosenhan as insane, however, the patients quickly realized that Rosenhan was actually faking it.

Russell also “sketched out two more essays on madness under the new regime of (in)sanity”. He sent these along to Fraser as a possible idea for a series of animations called How the World Went Mad which would diagnose Trump’s election as a form of madness and offer up a possible cure. Fraser told Russell to go for it.
The end result was a series of five short films explaining How the World Went Mad by which Russell asked the very pertinent question:

In a world gone mad who can you trust?

Beginning on that fateful morning in Fall 2016, Russell takes the viewer through a brief history of psychiatry, culture, and politics to explain how we have all ended up here. I contacted Russell to ask him about the making How the World Went Mad and what he hoped his diagnosis of our current malady would achieve.

How did you go about making ‘How the World Went Mad’?

Rupert Russell: I spent a month in the British Library going through histories and psychologies of madness. I picked out studies that could be linked together to form a narrative arc of the series: diagnosis, symptoms, transmission, epidemic, and cure. I turned the notes into scripts, recorded them, and sent the files to Dare Studio in Poland, who had worked on my last feature, who got to work on the animation. The rest is archival footage, which I trawled through.

The most arduous of which was finding out who the infamous “fat guy” that Trump tormented in The Apprentice was. When we locked picture, Alex Williamson composed a wonderfully off-kilter score and three sound designers at Unit Post created a soundscape of insanity filled with screams, explosions, and even orgasms.

The polemic for your films rests on the idea Trump is mad—what happens if he is not mad?

RR: The source of my anxiety, as I describe in Episode 1, “Diagnosis,” is precisely this question: What if Trump is the new definition of sanity and it is I who am in fact mad. The line between sanity and insanity has been a skipping rope throughout history, pulling people in and out of it. Gays, lesbians, and women have only recently escaped their 19th-century diagnosis as perverts and hysterics. The Trump/Pence victory signalled another swing of the rope. In their Handmaid’s Tale morality, these gender traitors deserve no voice in the patriarch’s definition of sanity—where only the male “commanders” are capable of rational judgements.

The insanity of this position should be self-evident. But too increasingly, it’s becoming the new definition of sanity. We are living through another reaction to social progress that has resurrected the same tropes and characters of the feminist backlash in the 1980s, which inspired Atwood’s original novel.

More diagnosis of ‘How the World Went Mad,’ after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher
10:02 am
Here’s how to hack an election
08:34 am

Election hacking has been a pretty hot topic recently. Now that we know it is possible, you know, controlling the fate of a governed body through manipulated misinformation, we must acknowledge that it could happen again. Especially in a place like Manitoba, Canada.

The term “hacker” has been around for much longer than you think. The first reported case of an unauthorized entry into a private network was conducted on June 4th, 1903—by a magician. By this point on our technological evolutionary timeline, electromagnetic waves had been discovered and were being experimented with to communicate wireless messages. Italian engineer Guglielmo Marconi had gained much international attention for his accomplishment of the first successful wireless transmission across the Atlantic ocean (2,200 miles). Marconi claimed his methods to be impenetrable and Nevil Maskelyne, the skeptic British magician, sought to prove him wrong. During a very public demonstration at the Royal Academy of Sciences, Maskelyne tapped into Marconi’s signal, which was being broadcast from Cornwall, over three-hundred miles away. The hacked messages appeared in morse code on a projector screen and consisted of several jabs at Marconi and his “secure” network. Turns out, besides magic, Maskelyne was also employed by the Eastern Telegraphic Company, whose wired system would suffer from these new innovations to communication technology.

And then came phreaking. In the 1960s, it was discovered that one could “hack” into the public phone network through the manipulation of sounds. The most notable figure of the “phone freak” movement, which predates the personal computer, was a man who went by the alias of Cap’n Crunch. Mr. Crunch got his nickname from a toy whistle that came in specially marked boxes of the sugar cereal. When blown, the whistle could emit a frequency at 2600Hz, which, it was discovered, allowed a user to tap into nexus of the AT&T phone system and place free long distance calls. More advanced techniques of phreaking soon developed, through use of “blue boxes” that were built to replicate unique tones and frequencies. Before they started Apple, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak sold blue boxes to the hacker community. The first example of a fictional hacker in popular culture came with the Firesign Theatre’s 1971 comedy album I Think We’re All Bozos on This Bus where the main character causes an audio-animatronic Nixon robot to malfunction by asking it surreal and confusing questions.

Phreakers unite
2600: The Hacker Quarterly was started amid the phreaker scene in 1984. The seasonal publication, edited by a guy with the Orwell-inspired pen name of Emmanuel Goldstein, has served as an important resource within the hacking community as it has evolved over the years. Rather than focusing on the deliberately destructive and malicious tactics of hackers often portrayed in the media, 2600 benefits the less illegal intentions of the “grey hat hacker,” who is merely demonstrating his/her capabilities of penetrating into an off-limits system. In our complex digital world, the publication today has taken on more of an activist approach toward our digital and personal freedoms.

More of a dark-grey hat than anything, the Autumn 2007 issue of 2600: The Hacker Quarterly contained an article about hacking an election.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Bennett Kogon
08:34 am
New book collects every issue of the Crass zine ‘International Anthem’

The ‘domestic violence issue’ of International Anthem, 1979
This deserves more press than it’s received: a new book collects every issue of International Anthem: A Nihilist Newspaper for the Living, including two never before published. The volume is an official product of “the publishing wing of Crass and beyond,” the venerable Exitstencil Press.

International Anthem was Gee Vaucher’s newspaper, but denying its connection to the band would be a challenge. Its 1978-‘83 run coincided, roughly, with Crass’s (as opposed to, say, Exit‘s), and the Crass logo sometimes appeared on the paper’s cover (see above). Eve Libertine, $ri Hari Nana B.A., Penny Rimbaud, G. Sus (aka Gee Vaucher) and Dave King contributed to its pages.

Gee Vaucher collage from International Anthem #2 (via ArtRabbit)
The book contains scans of the originals (“bad printing, creases, mistakes and all”), reproduced at full size. If it is good to buy quality art books, it is better to buy them directly from the artist. Buddhists call it “accumulating merit,” and they say you want to do a lot of it in this life, so you don’t have to come back as Eric Trump. Below, consume two hours of Crass programming broadcast on Australia’s JJJ Radio in 1987, featuring some Crass texts read in Australian accents and contemporary interviews with Gee and Penny at Dial House.

Help Gee Vaucher collect 20 million hand-drawn stick figures for her World War I project.

Posted by Oliver Hall
08:47 am
Ulrike Meinhof’s teenage riot TV movie

“If you obey, they are happy because you are ruined. Then they are cool because they have crushed you.”
Right before she embarked on a campaign of left-wing terror, Ulrike Meinhof produced her screenplay for Bambule, a TV movie about the miserable lot of girls in a juvenile reform institution. It was supposed to air in 1970, but the broadcast was canceled after Meinhof helped the Red Army Faction bust Andreas Baader out of prison.

The title means “prison riot,” though apparently the bambule originated as a form of nonviolent prison protest, making a “Jailhouse Rock”-style racket by drumming on anything available. “You lousy screws!”

During one scene, the girls beat a frenzied tattoo on their doors. But in Meinhof’s own definition of the term, from a 1969 radio report (quoted in Baader-Meinhof: The Inside Story of the R.A.F.), there is no mention of noise:

Bambule means rebellion, resistance, counter-violence – efforts toward liberation. Such things happen mostly in summer, when it is hot, and the food is even less appealing than usual, and anger festers in the corners with the heat. Such things are in the air then – it could be compared to the hot summers in the black ghettoes of the United States.


Meinhof based the screenplay on her conversations with girls at the Eichenhof Youth Custody Home, for which Bambule is not much of an advertisement. They had a prescription for teens like Monika, expelled from a convent for kissing another girl: discipline and work, with occasional breaks for obeying the rules. The only pleasures in Bambule are the small acts of disobedience available to teenagers. They smoke cigarettes, curse out a few fuckwords, write graffiti about LSD and hash, play the Bee Gees’ “Massachusetts.” All relationships with adults are characterized by violence, cruelty and exploitation; everyone over 20 is dead inside. It’s like watching an episode of Dragnet written by a militant leftist.

More after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall
08:56 am
Send in the clowns: The Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army wants you!
11:31 am

Trigger Warning: if you are coulrophobic (suffer from a paralyzing fear of clowns), this article is probably not for you. Select another wonderful piece written by the great contributors here at Dangerous Minds, as you will not enjoy the information I am about to relay to you. If you have no fear of Ronald McDonald or Bozo and their ilk, you will be quite interested to find that beginning in the mid-2000s, a clown army was established in order to fight for our right to party.

Okay, so maybe they weren’t exactly fighting for our right to party as such, but CIRCA—the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army—was most certainly established in order to keep The Man from trying to keep us down in a variety of ways. To quote from their now-defunct-but-Internet-Archived-website, CIRCA’s aims were highly political but filtered through the theatrical. They state:

CIRCA is reclaiming the art of Rebel Clowning, it’s combatants don’t pretend to be clowns, they are clowns, real trained clowns. Clowns that have run away from the anaemic safety of the circus and escaped the banality of kids parties, Fools that have thrown away their sceptres and broken the chains that shackled them to the throne.
CIRCA aims to make clowning dangerous again, to bring it back to the street, restore its disobedience and give it back the social function it once had: its ability to disrupt, critique and heal society. Since the beginning of time tricksters (the mythological origin or all clowns) have embraced life’s paradoxes, creating coherence through confusion - adding disorder to the world in order to expose its lies and speak the truth.

Formed in the UK in 2003 by activists John Jordan, L.M. Bogad, Jen Verson and Matt Trevelyan, CIRCA’s creation was catalyzed by George Bush’s visit to London. The group’s practice of rebel clowning was intended to call into play ideas of the foolish, silly and ridiculous, all of which caught authority figures like policemen and the military completely off-guard (pun intended). Nothing like a massive crowd of clowns demonstrating to make a public official feel trivialized or have their dominance questioned. The CIRCA protests were designed to fulfill the group’s stated principles which, as John Jordan wrote, consisted of the following:

Use absurdity to undermine the aura of authority
Ridicule and absurdity are powerful tools against authority. To be effective, authority has to be perceived as such, otherwise people would never obey its commands. On the other hand, who ever takes a clown seriously? Rebel clowning used this slippery dichotomy to great effect, turning the tables on authority in the street by posing in mock-serious fashion next to lines of cops, as well as at the highest levels of power, by pointing out the clownish behavior of George W. Bush and other authority figures.

Get arrested in an intelligent way
Watching police handcuff and bundle clowns into police vans is always entertaining for passersby, begging the question: What did the clowns do wrong? What is this all about? An arrested clown also makes for very mediagenic images. By staying in character during the whole process of an arrest, including giving their clown army names (e.g., Private Joke) and addressees (e.g., the big top in the sky) as their real identity, rebel clowns caused much mirth and havoc in the police stations.

Rebel clowning helped reframe the media images of protests during the big summit mobilizations of the mid 1990s. A colorful band of disobedient clowns could easily capture the limelight and shift the narrative away from “violent clashes” and smashed windows.

The kind of Bakhtinian splendor that CIRCA produced on the streets of the UK for Dubya didn’t stay there. The numerous “Operations” they conducted are listed here, along with some passionate communiques from clown leaders such as General Anesthetic, General Confusion and Colonel Oftruth. Operations like the Engagement with CRAP (Capitalism Represents Acceptable Policy) which took place in Leicester Square in 2004 or the various Scottish skirmishes, and the time they informed CIRCA members that they would be “giving hugs to the needy, playing games with all our friends, and other similarly militant activities. We request full cooperation from the public for this operation.”

This kind of thing doesn’t just remain in one place of course. What began in the UK spread. There was the Dutch Clown Armythe Belgian Clown Army, the US Clown Brigades and so forth. It went global, and CIRCA members appeared en force at political events like G8 and elsewhere. For some reason, it’s gotten a bit quiet recently. We’ve really been lacking in the clown army department, so hey—members of CIRCA—any division—if you’re reading this—we could really use a clown manifestation right about now. This time it really IS time to send in the clowns.



Much more after the jump…

Posted by Ariel Schudson
11:31 am
‘Don’t Kill the Animals’: PETA’s 1987 experimental compilation produced by Ministry’s Al Jourgensen

Celebrity endorsements of PETA are nearly as infamous as the company’s graphic and often-questionable awareness campaigns. Since the animal rights organization was founded in 1980, influential figures from the arts and entertainment world have voiced their concerns over animal cruelty, whether in favor of vegetarianism or in disapproval of product testing on animals. Even Iggy Pop and Nick Cave are known proponents.
The man behind the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ most controversial campaigns is Senior Vice President, Dan Matthews. Much earlier in his career, before more famous people like Paul McCartney, Pink and Pamela Anderson got involved, Dan reached out to none other than Ministry frontman Al Jourgensen—an inspired choice, I think you’ll agree—about a compilation album to benefit PETA. With Jourgensen on board as the album’s primary producer, Matthews put together a different kind of record; one that would find a correlation between music and animal activism.

Featuring a forlorn monkey in a laboratory on its cover, Animal Liberation was released by legendary Chicago independent label Wax Trax! on April 21st, 1987. All songs on the compilation were donated to PETA by the artists (some had been previously released) and featured subjects of animal cruelty. Among key contributors to the album were musicians like The Smiths, Siouxsie & the Banshees, Captain Sensible, Chris & Cosey, Shriekback, and a collaboration between Nina Hagen and Lene Lovich. Song clips between tracks featured ominous segments of “actual dialogue from animal experimenters and meat farmers and actual alerts from TV and radio shows.” While Jourgensen did not contribute any actual music to the project, the interlude clips were all produced by him.
From the album’s linear notes:

In 1985, Dan Matthews (PETA) approached Al Jourgensen (Ministry, Wax Tax) about helping put together a “different” sort of benefit album - for animal rights. Sympathetic artists from across America and Europe were approached to donate material on animal issues (some songs previously released). From all these submissions, ANIMAL LIBERATION has surfaced - the songs interspersed with action segments containing actual dialogue from animal experimenters and meat farmers and actual alerts from TV and radio shows. The introduction carries, in 11 languages, the central theme: “ANIMALS ARE NOT OURS TO EAT, WEAR OR EXPERIMENT ON.”

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Bennett Kogon
01:23 pm
‘Consumerism cums in your hair’: Hijacking capitalism one advert at a time
08:23 am

I suppose some may say, “It’s not big. It’s not clever.” But still, it is quite amusing. Artist provocateur Hogre is waging a war against capitalism, consumerism, right-wing politics, and religion one advert at a time.

Hogre illegally takes over large billboards and bus stop advertising displays across London and reinvents them with subversive messages. Santa Claus is no longer celebrating Christmas with a Coke but preparing to start the revolution with a fiery Molotov cocktail. Neighborhood Watch is really Neighborhood Snitch. And car companies are shitting all over the world because “Why worry about Global Warming? We all die anyway!”

Originally from Italy, Hogre’s been making his presence known for about ten years with his clever, amusing stencils and inventive acts of vandalism. It’s all jolly good fun and thought-provoking to boot but I do wonder if such well-intended artistic anarchy is more likely to result in Hogre’s work being curated in an art gallery than awakening the “sheeple” from their addiction to consumerism. But I suppose one can hope.

See more of the mighty Hogre’s art here.
See more of Hogre’s sterling work, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher
08:23 am
The never before told story of the man in the infamous ‘FUCK THE DRAFT’ posters

Of the many stories of official government suppression that came out of the Vietnam War era protest movements, one of the most compelling is the saga of Kiyoshi Kuromiya’s indelible “Fuck the Draft” poster. Kuromiya procured—how is unclear—a photo of a hippie burning his draft card, looking almost religiously captivated by the flame, and set his slogan in the plainest possible type. It was a hit, but his mail order sales gave feds seeking to suppress its message a strong angle of attack—using the mails to send obscene materials over state lines. The designer spent three years fighting those obscenity charges, and my Dangerous Minds colleague Jason Schafer crafted a fascinating deep-dive of that story about two and a half years ago. I unconditionally recommend reading it before proceeding here.

A crucial part of that story has gone untold until now—the perspective of Bill Greenshields, the man in the photograph. He’s only ever been publicly identified as the face of “Fuck the Draft” once before, practically in passing in a 1968 issue of an underground magazine. He’s agreed to tell his story for the first time to Dangerous Minds, to mark the 50th anniversary of his immortal rebellious action—the photo was taken on October 21, 1967, at the notorious war protest at the Pentagon, the one during which Abbie Hoffman famously attempted to levitate the building.

Dangerous Minds was put in contact with Greenshields by longtime Detroit art/punk provocateur Tim Caldwell (we’ve told you about him before.) Caldwell has known Greenshields for decades, but only just found out about his friend’s connection to the poster. It’s a story best told in Caldwell’s words:

Tim Caldwell: I was at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit for this exhibit called “Sonic Rebellion,” for the 50th anniversary of the Detroit riots in July of 1967. There are all these artifacts, like magazines, protest posters, books, and photographs, and people’s interpretations of all that in their artwork. And also there’s this idea of music as a force of expressive resistance. And there was this poster of my friend Bill. It was really weird, because he’d always told me he’d had a very different life before we met, and I didn’t really know what he looked like as a teenager—he’s almost 70 and I met him about 30 years ago, doing films and things like that. But so I saw this poster, in a case, and I was like “WOW, that’s him!” He looks kind of goofy and crazed in it, because that’s just the moment they caught him, he wasn’t posing or anything. I hadn’t seen him in about five or seven years, so I called a mutual friend who’s a musician who he knew Bill from film societies going back to the ‘80s. And he confirmed that it was Bill in the poster, and I asked if he was OK with talking about it, since he’d never mentioned it. So finally I called Bill and, yeah, it’s him! And every time we talked after that he’d have more and more crazy stories about stuff he did in the protest era that I’d never heard about before, he had this whole secret life before I met him—I started to wonder how well I’d really known him for those 30 years!

Bill Greenshields reliving a key moment from his past

Greenshields broke his decades-long silence on his experience in a phone conversation last weekend.

DM: So let’s start at the beginning—the protest itself. What were the circumstances, and do you know who shot the picture?

Bill Greenshield: I have no idea who took the picture or how I was selected to be on a poster. There were some people around with cameras, some of whom I thought were probably government spooks.

DM: Some of them probably were!

BG: There were friendlies too, with cameras, though. This occurred at the Pentagon on October 21, 1967, and it was part of the march on the Pentagon.

DM: This was the day that Yippies tried to levitate the Pentagon?

BG: Yeah, that occurred at the same time, you might say, around sundown. The march started at the Lincoln Memorial. People were bussed in from all over the country, and it was kind of a virgin thing, the first really big national march. If you’ve been to the Lincoln Memorial, you know there’s a giant long reflecting pool between that and the Washington Monument obelisk. At that particular time, I was part of a group of draft resistors in the Detroit area, and one of us had made a mock-up of a sign, a really large draft card. The name on it was “Loony Bird Johnson,” since LBJ was president at the time. Another fellow and I took off our shoes and sock and walked into the reflecting pool, which was slippery as hell. So we’re slipping and sliding, trying to be really careful, taking this gigantic draft card out into the middle of it, and suddenly everyone looked a lot smaller, except Lincoln, who was still very imposing. We got out a butane lighter and tried to light it, and it took a while, because there was a breeze and it was poster board. But we got it lit and immolated the whole thing. Then slid all the way back and put our shoes on to go hear all the speeches.

Then there was a march across the Potomac to the Pentagon. I don’t know how many miles it was, but it was slow going. I don’t know how many people were there but it was a long line of them, and the first people there went to where the public entrance was, that large staircase, and they went up there and got stuck up there, surrounded by Federal Marshals, who were not very nice [laughs], with billy clubs and whatnot, and Federal troops, who were our age, and were very nice. They were armed, but you could talk with them. It was starting to get dark, and like I said, they were stuck up there. Then some of the Yippies were doing like an invocation to levitate the Pentagon…

DM: So did it go up?

BG: Well, WE levitated! [laughs] Anyway, what happened was someone threw a rope up to the next level, because the stairs were blocked, and nobody was grabbing it to climb it, and I thought “what the hell,” and I started to go up. And as I’m going up I’m thinking various things, like “I hope someone up there keeps holding the other end of this,” and “A sniper could pick me off pretty good right now.” And when I got all the way up some people saw me and helped me over the ledge. People were pretty crammed together, and about 50 of them had put their draft cards in a soldier’s helmet and burned them all, and I had just missed it. So I took mine out and lit it up individually, and it lit a lot better than the big cardboard one. That was when someone took my picture. And that picture somehow got to Kiyoshi Kuromiya who made the poster.

I had no knowledge of the poster until an article in May of 1968, in The Fifth Estate, an underground paper that still exists, by the way, Harvey Ovshinsky was the editor. I was a childhood friend of his, all the way through junior high school, and he recognized me on the poster right away, and even named me in the article.

click to spawn a more readable enlargement

DM: The look on your face in that poster is a little demented, like you’re some kind of twisted fire-worshipper.

BG: Yeah, like there’s this GLEE of some kind! That’s probably why it was selected, but you gotta remember, I had just climbed this rope after walking from the Lincoln Monument to the Pentagon, and so I probably WAS really enjoying burning that card at the time. [laughs]

DM: So after the poster came out, the Federal obscenity charges came up against Kuromiya. Did the feds try finding you, too?

BG: Yes, they did.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch
09:58 am
That time 100,000 Iranian women protested against mandatory wearing of the hijab, 1979.

There was once a strong belief among many Iranians that if they wanted something, then they just had to go out onto the street and demand it. This idea was fostered by the role many Iranians had in deposing Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and bringing back the radical Muslim cleric Ayatollah Khomeini from exile in France in 1979. This ended 2,500 years of Persian monarchy, replacing it with an Islamic Republic.

The Shah was seen as an autocratic, brutal, and oppressive dictator, who was attempting to westernize the country against the will of the people. The opposition to the Shah and his alleged evil western ways brought together an odd mix of Marxists, socialists, Islamic fundamentalists, and even the misguided media outlet the BBC. Together this unlikely coalition succeeded by demonstrations, strikes, marches, and news propaganda in forcing the Shah (and his supporters) to flee Iran and to bring in the Ayatollah and his Islamic revolution.

Many Iranians thought they were taking back control of their country for themselves. It wasn’t quite so simple. Political coalitions, no matter how well-meaning, only ever work in favor of those who appear to have the most power. The Ayatollah Khomeini was a figurehead around whom the country could unite. Therefore, Khomeini appeared to have the most power. Rather than working together to curtail the Khomeini’s influence, the socialists and the Marxists and the liberals all tried to win his support. This only confirmed to the Ayatollah Khomeini (and the Muslims who supported him) that he was in control.

An estimated one million people greeted the Ayatollah Khomeini’s arrival in Iran by Air France jet, in February 1979. By the end of March, the people had voted by an overwhelming margin of 99% to make Iran an Islamic Republic.

Though women were credited by the Ayatollah Khomeini for their essential role in bringing about the Iranian revolution, in early March 1979, he paid back their actions by implementing an edict that made it compulsory for all women to wear the hijab (veil) in public. Suddenly, any promise the Ayatollah offered of a new, better, fairer Iran was revealed as nothing more than a chimera. Khomeini was a hardline fundamentalist and he had no time for individual freedom—not when he knew what his invisible friend wanted. And Allah apparently wanted women covered up.

On March 8th, 1979, 100,000 women marched on the streets of Tehran against the mandatory wearing for all women of the hijab. Photographer Hengameh Golestan was present that day and believed it was her responsibility to document the demonstration as she was witnessing “something historic.”

It was a huge demonstration with women – and men – from all professions there, students, doctors, lawyers. We were fighting for freedom: political and religious, but also individual.


“They were demanding the freedom of choice. It wasn’t a protest against religion or beliefs, in fact many religious women joined the protest, this was strictly about women’s rights, it was all about having the option.”


I was walking beside this group of women, who were talking and joking. Everyone was happy for me to take their picture. You can see in their faces they felt joyful and powerful. The Iranian revolution had taught us that if we wanted something, we should go out into the street and demand it. People were so happy – I remember a group of nurses stopping some men in a car and telling them: “We want equality, so put on some scarves, too!” Everyone laughed.

I wanted to join in all the protests during the revolution, but I knew I had to go as a photographer. My first thought was: “It’s my responsibility to document this.” I’m rather small, so I was ducking in and out of the crowd, constantly taking photos. I took about 20 rolls of film. When the day was over, I ran home to develop them in my darkroom. I knew I had witnessed something historic. I was so proud of all the women. I wanted to show the best of us.

This turned out to be the last day women walked the streets of Tehran uncovered. It was our first disappointment with the new post-revolution rulers of Iran. We didn’t get the effect we had wanted. But when I look at this photo, I don’t just see the hijab looming over it. I see the women, the solidarity, the joy – and the strength we felt.

The women lost. The demonstration ended with the women being attacked and some even stabbed on the streets of Tehran. The men and their sexist, superstitious beliefs won. It’s a way of having power over women that continues to this day in many different forms.

Pioneering photographer Hengameh Golestan has been documenting life in Iran for 28 years, see more of her work here.
See more photos, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher
09:40 am
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