|Parastou Forouhar says she finds ‘healing in repetition’ through her artwork. Photograph: Courtesy of the artist and the Guardian.|
Every autumn, the Iranian artist Parastou Forouhar returns to Tehran from Germany to hold a memorial service for her murdered parents.
Dariush Forouhar, a secular politician, and his wife, Parvaneh, were two of Iran’s most high-profile political activists when they were stabbed to death in their home on 22 November 1998. The killers placed her father’s body in a chair facing towards the Qibla, the direction of Mecca.
Forouhar, 55, remembers receiving a call from a BBC reporter asking when she had last spoken to her parents.
“I called a close friend of my parents in Paris and he was crying,” Forouhar says. “I thought, it mustn’t be just an arrest. We were used to [arrests]. I said, is Dad killed? He said, it’s not just your dad.”
Every year since, Parastou has gathered with close relatives to light a candle and pay tribute to her parents’ secular democratic values. The public are routinely blocked from attending by security officials.
“They won’t let people in for the ceremony [but] it gets media coverage and it becomes an act of protest,” says Forouhar, whose work was recently exhibited at Pi Artworks in London.
Forouhar says regularly revisiting the suffering she has endured for nearly 20 years has helped to heal the wounds of her past.