Last night's protest outside of LACMA (all photos courtesy Mohammad Motlagh)

A group of activists staged a performance outside the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) last night to commemorate the 40-day anniversary of the Zahedan “Bloody Friday” Massacre, in which Iranian security forces opened fire into a crowd and killed almost 100 people — the deadliest killing since protests began in Iran in September.

A group of protesters dressed in black handcuffed themselves to the street lamps that make up Chris Burden’s “Urban Light” (2008) installation, located at the Wilshire Boulevard entrance of LACMA. The performance aligned with a wave of protests and strikes in Iran also in remembrance of the Zahedan Massacre and ongoing demonstrations following the death of Mahsa (Zhina) Amini, who died in detainment after she was stopped by Iran’s “morality police” for not wearing her government-mandated headscarf properly.

“A revolution is happening in the streets of Iran and the Islamic Republic is violently trying to silence freedom seekers,” reads the flyer distributed at LACMA performance, which was organized by Mediseh Bathaie based on a concept by Payam Qavami. “There is an endless list to their crimes against humanity, and one the most brutal ones is the massacre of Zahedan.”

On September 30, leaving a mosque after their weekly Friday prayer, a group of demonstrators gathered outside the Zahedan police station to demand accountability for the rape of a 15-year-old girl at the hands of a police captain. The authorities opened fire, killing protestors and bystanders. Zahedan is home to the country’s Baluch minority, which has faced repression from the state.

Protesters dressed in black clung to the street lamps that make up Chris Burden’s “Urban Light” (2008) installation.

Yesterday’s action at LACMA honored Khodanoor Lejei, who died four days after the massacre, where he was shot and subsequently denied medical treatment. The performance also honored Faezeh Barahui, a university student who protested the rape of the 15-year-old girl and is now detained, potentially facing the death penalty.

“This performance is homage to Khodanoor, and all the brave Iranian women and men who are braving grave danger on the streets of Iran for freedom,” the flyer read.

Burden’s “Urban Light” has become a recognizable symbol of the city as well as the site of public engagement, protests, and actions over the years. This summer, activists covered themselves in blood and chained themselves to the installation’s lampposts in protest of the reversal of Roe v. Wade.

LACMA has not yet responded to Hyperallergic’s immediate request for comment.

The performance marks 40 days since the Zahedan Massacre that killed almost 100 people.

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Elaine Velie

Elaine Velie is a writer from New Hampshire living in Brooklyn. She studied Art History and Russian at Middlebury College and is interested in art's role in history, culture, and politics.

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