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Where’s My Vote? #2013-0210

Porcelain and mixed media artwork by Penny Byrne made in response to the Iranian elections in 2009.

History

In this artwork, Australian artist Penny Byrne has dramatically transformed a vintage curio into a politically charged statement. At first glance this delicately crafted figure is not unlike a domestic decorative figurine, displayed proudly in a china cabinet or on a mantelpiece. Yet Byrne’s creative manipulation has transformed this object originally designed for quiet aesthetic contemplation. Made by Byrne in 2009, this artwork refers to the disputed results of the national elections in Iran. It tells the confronting story of one woman, 26 year old Neda Agha-Soltan, who was shot dead while traveling to take part in protests against the election result.

On 12 June 2009 Iranians turned out in record numbers to vote in the presidential election, which followed a heated campaign between reformist candidate Mir Hussein Musavi and incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The announcement that President Ahmadinejad had been re-elected by a 62 per cent margin sparked allegations of vote rigging and election fraud, and prompted supporters of Musavi to hold large public demonstrations in several major cities. The government sought to supress the protests by restricting foreign and domestic journalists, disrupting mobile phone networks, limiting accessibility to the internet, conducting mass arrests and clashing with protesters.

The protest became associated with the colour green, and Byrne’s figure wears a green headscarf and green arm band, referencing the colour of the clothing worn by many of the protesters. This work refers directly to the death of Neda Agha-Soltan who was shot while on her way to participate in the protests. She died on the way to hospital. Her death was captured on amateur video which was broadcast over the internet and drew international condemnation.

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Statement of values

‘Where’s My Vote?’ is a contemporary commentary on a major international political event involving a Middle Eastern country struggling for democratic change. The work directly addresses the theme of international democracy. This object relates to the Museum of Australian Democracy’s collection of objects of political satire, which itself is part of a much larger Australian tradition of depicting political figures through satirical cartoons and artwork.

  • Where’s My Vote?Where’s My Vote? —

Details

Width 170mm
Height 520mm
Depth 170mm
Medium Vintage earthenware figurine, vintage action man clothing and accessories, retouching medium, powder pigments.
Creator’s name Byrne, Penny
Date created 2009