Face on: 2022-

Our early semi-human progenitors would not have practised infanticide…

for the instincts of the lower animals are never so perverted

as to lead them regularly to destroy their own offspring.

Charles Darwin

Within the scope of my current project with Atelier Genevois de Gravure Contemporaine, I have undertaken an exploration of the issue of violence against children in Iran, commencing in April 2022. The scope of my research subsequently expanded to encompass a broader geographical context, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Iran, all of which have predominantly Muslim populations entrenched in patriarchal myths. The upbringing of children in these countries is deeply intertwined with extremist religious interpretations and patriarchal values. While the recruitment of children for military purposes represents an overt form of violence, it is but the proverbial tip of the iceberg. To describe the spectrum of direct and indirect aggression toward children by their parents, I propose the term “Filicide.” This designation encompasses a range of violent behaviours, including but not limited to direct murder, sacrifice, sending children to war, abandonment, and even the ritualized practice of circumcision. In a broader context, religious leaders replace fathers, raising children as obedient followers. My own encounter with this mentality occurred during the Iran-Iraq war, during which, according to official government records, 40,000 schoolboy soldiers “voluntarily laid down their lives as martyrs”. These young volunteers were eager to sacrifice themselves for the cause.

The artwork entitled “Crying Monster” is an appropriation-based creation that borrows the figure of painting from an ancient Iranian painter, Muḥammad Siyāh Qalam, while incorporating a child depicted in Peter Paul Rubens’ painting “Saturn Devouring His Son”. This amalgamated character was conceived as part of an ongoing series of works, with the present piece featuring a frame intended to showcase information, photographs, or news articles relating to child soldiers situated atop the child figure. The aquatint work exists in multiple iterations, intended to raise awareness and draw attention to the issue of violence against children and exploitation occurring on a global scale.