When innovation, inspiration and integrity come together, beautiful things can happen. One example of such a phenomenon is now touring across Canada: the PaykanArtCar.
The PaykanArtCar is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that unites the talents of contemporary Iranian artists with a beloved symbol of national pride — the Paykan automobile — to advocate for the restoration of human rights and dignity for all in Iran no matter their race, religion, gender or their sexual orientation.
The organization recently acquired a Paykan automobile that was once a gift from the Shah of Iran to the authoritarian Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu. Alireza Shojaian, an Iranian artist and activist living in exile, is the first artist commissioned by the organization to paint this historic automobile. Using a dictator’s car as a canvas, Shojaian, gives visibility to the strength and emotion of queer culture long hidden in the region. On the side of the car, the many men in Iran who have been sentenced to death because of their sexual orientation are represented. On the hood, Shojaian subverts traditionally cis-hetero Iranian icons and transforms them into homosexual characters. Iran is one of the few remaining countries where homosexuality is an offense punishable by death. As a result, Canada has become a safe haven for folks seeking to escape this brutal and oppressive regime, making it home to the second largest Iranian diaspora globally.
The inaugural PaykanArtCar tour kicked off in Toronto in November, in partnership with 3.19.27(2), a Toronto-based arts nonprofit. The car will remain in Toronto until December 15th before touring across Canada with dates in Montreal, Edmonton and Vancouver to be announced.
Check out photos of this incredible work of art on wheels, and be sure to share its story with your loved ones this holiday season. But most of all, take the time to see it in person at one of the PaykanArtCar tour stops over the next few weeks.
*all images from the PaykanArtCar tourstop in Toronto in November