The resonant silence of performance artist Sofia Saleh

WSN photographers capture a performance artist protesting against the Iranian regime in silence in Washington Square Park on Nov. 4.

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Iran erupted into mass political unrest after the death of Mahsa Amini — a 22-year-old woman who died after reportedly not wearing her hijab in accordance with government standards and being detained by the country’s morality police. Following her death, local police clashed with protesters, and the conflict sparked international outrage against the Iranian government.

Artist Sofia Saleh grew up in Marseille, France, but has worked out of New York City for the past seven years. She draws most of her inspiration from the memories of her deceased father and the city that surrounds her, intrigued by the legacies that people leave behind. With this motivation in mind, Saleh aims to challenge the monotony of everyday life through her work.

On Nov. 4, Saleh stood in the middle of Washington Square Park for an entire hour, her mouth taped shut and her body wrapped in chains. Words scrawled in charcoal pencil covered her arms. The words represented a unifying voice, the deafening roar of “Women. Life. Freedom,” a common rally chant. The artist encouraged onlookers to stand in silence beside her, taking a pause from their busy lives. 

For Saleh, the world stopped for an hour, her tranquil vitality drawing onlookers at the park. For those 60 minutes, Saleh inspired the crowd with her silent yet resonant performance.


Text by Shirene Anand.

Photography by Shirene Anand and Qianshan Weng.

Contact them at [email protected].

Developed for web by Kevin Wu.