Throughout time great examples of art have been made by human kind, however very few have been made by women. There is an evident in the art world, never the less, the last century has seen an increase in women in the arts in America and the world. The largest section of the arts that women can be seen is in literature. Many of the bestselling books are currently written by woman who are taking it by storm. An excellent example that represents conventional arts and literature is “Persepolis” by Marjane Satrapi. Her graphic novel tells the turbulent story of her childhood through the Islamic revolution.
Satrapi depicts the world as she sees it growing up in Iran and Europe and as she becomes a young woman. As a young girl she sees many of women’s rights taken away by the Islamic regime. There is sparse amount of women in visual arts and is predominantly held by men. Even though there are few female artists compared to men Persepolis is a modern example that a graphic novel by a woman is equally as engaging to read. Persepolis is a memoir about Marjane Satrapi from the age of 6 years old until she was about 14 years old.
She tells of her experience in the 1980’s as the Shah’s regime is over thrown, then the triumph of the Islamic revolution, and the horrible side effects that the war had on the country and the people. As a child Marjane Satrapi was happy with her middle class family and environment. It wasn’t until the 1980’s when things changed for her and her family. In the 1980’s she was forced to where a vail when out in public in Iran. She discusses her dreams to become a profit and had regular talks with god himself. She was born in Rasht, Iran, and grew up in Tehran.
Her parents where bother supporters of Marxist initiates against the monarchy of the former Shah. A shah is “a king of Iran in past times”, which Marjane is the great granddaughter of the emperor. As she grew she seen the many horrors of war and the regime. One tragic event in her young life was the execution of her uncle, Anoosh, who was a political prisoner. As she became a teen she was a rule breaker and admired western music and lifestyle. Soon her parents grew worried of their daughter’s strong willed nature and arrange for her to get an education in Europe.
She studied abroad in Vienna, Austria, where she went to school in the Lycee Francais de Vienne. She lived in several places as she studied and even spent time on the streets. She studied visual communication, eventually obtaining a master’s degree from Islamic Azad University in Tehran. She met a young man named Reza, and they got Married when she was 21. However they divorced a few years later. She then moved to France and studied art. Her novel was was published in 2003 and 2004 in English, and in 2007 it was made in to a movie in the style of her graphic novel.
She has illustrated many children’s books and appears in many newspapers and magazines around the world. Marjane currently lives in Paris with her husband Mattias Ripa. The artwork of Marjane Satrapi is in a simple back and white drawing style that is effectively used in the book Persepolis. Her artwork which is featured in children books, magazines, and newspapers is illustrated in a unique way that is full of creativity and “she’s one of the most original artists working today'(). An examination of her work reveals much about the message she is trying to get across, whether it’s happy, angry or sad.
The artwork made by Satrapi helps the reader better understand her memoir. It sheds light on the emotions she felt during her child hood. Many of the book scenes helps give a tone to the story and is an effective tool for storytelling of her life in Iran. There are three good examples of art that enhances the reading in the book. First is the scene where young Marjane overhears her parents talk at night how the police set fire to the Rex Cinema that night. The police set it on fire and forbid the people to go in and help rescue, then they attacked the by standers.
On page 15. of the book is a ghostly image of jagged edged people running to the exit while others ascend to heaven with skull faces and screaming, as the movie theater burns them alive. This image represents the shock and horror of being burned alive by the people who are meant to protect its people. The jagged salute of the people in the building are not carried through in the same manner anywhere else in the book. It is visually set apart from the other drawings. The news said that the massacre was done by fanatics and the people know it was the shah that caused the fire.
The shah itself acted as a terrorist group to instill fear in the people. Fear related propaganda is a constant theme by the government in the comic. The next image that helps the reader understand the situation is the drawing on page 71. it depicts Satrapi floating in outer space all dark and alone with distant stars and planets. She had just got the news of her uncle’s execution and god comes in to talk to her, however, she demands he leaves and never return saying “shut up you! Get out of my life!!! I never want to see you again” (70).
After that there is an emptiness inside her that the image demonstrates by showing her floating in the vastness of outer space. She is left without her connection to god and the death of her cherished uncle. Finally is a well composed series of images that help denote an idea of how ridiculous it is to cause pain onto one’s self due to the death of young soldiers in the war. On page 95 and 96 the girls react to the slapping of their chest for the fallen men. The girls are at the school lined up and simultaneously slap there chest twice a day at school.
There is a scene of confusion on the girl’s face that is juxtaposed by the next page and three images of men injuring themselves and even mutilating themselves for their country. The men would slap themselves, others “even with chains” and it was “sometimes it was considered a macho thing” to do (96). The images by the author go from childhood fun and play to very serious topics and flow in and out throughout the book. There is always tension and conflict between the protagonist and the world around her.
Persepolis has an unusual voice where it is a voice of a young girl and a girl form Iran. The story stands out by “using a child’s perspective, both visually and verbally, to speak about a time of Iranian history that was so entrenched in adult situations” (Malek 371). There are very few examples of contemporary Iranian works of literature and art and furthermore less from a woman’s perspective. This is gives the reader a very unusual perspective in what it means to the author to be from Iran during the war.
The story is told by the author during the ages of 6 years old until she is sent away to Vienna to study. It easily read as if a child told the story. The visual novel does well to keep the perspective to what the child would know and behave at the age of 10 when they are given the vails to where and instead they play games with the garments. As stated previously the story shifts from humorous to serious topics that the young girl has to learn to live with. It plays many roles in the psyche of the young girl and urges her to want to rebel against the man.
As the restrictions grow more imposing on the author the more you see a rebellious nature flourish. The story is written in an honest way that allows the reader to peer in to the life of a young Iranian girl. As a child she sees things differently from her parents and she is well read for her age, so she understands aspects of the political situation. Even though there is a sadness through the story there is also a scents of pride by the author as she recants her story.
The author inserts many cultural and historical background points that aren’t known to most people in America. There have been few artist in history that have become famous and are female. There is a lack of female artist in the world market. “The number of men and women in the world is roughly equal”, yet woman’s artwork is seldom acknowledged other than a handful of recognizable female artists such as Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Edmonia Lewis(0798) “Satrapi is also doing important work for graphic novelists and the graphic novel genre.
While there have been numerous autobiographical graphic novels in the past, several of which were written by personal mentors to Satrapi, they have nearly all been written by men” (Malek 371). She is promoting a female voice in graphic novels to a wide range of readers and allows to have a conversation about female artists, woman’s rights, and Iranian identity. The content has allowed comic book style to evolve to an art form that can become a best seller. It gives a wide appeal by its use of language and imagery.
It equally appeals to westerners by showing that they have couches and American games rather than pillows on the ground and century’s old games. In conclusion, the author’s use of cultural perspective, storytelling and illustration transcends the unfair female divide in the art world. Literary works like this can help give a broader understanding to other cultures and perspectives in a fun and engaging way and still talk about serious topics. Satapi’s Graphic novel touches on many feminist points based on her life experience.