One of the most challenging processes that migrants go through is adapting to the sociocultural values of the destination country. Fear of not integrating into the new society causes many migrants to conceal important aspects of their selves. This form of self-censorship paradoxically enables the individuals to integrate or to remain integrated into the adopted society. I believe silence is one of the most common practices of self-censorship among migrant women; they remain silent in order to protect themselves from any risk of social harm and to avoid being misunderstood by others. In many cases, the natives of the adopted country interpret migrant women’s silence as a sign of agreement, and they choose to accept it as such in order to avoid tension. While self-censorship seems a harmless means of adaptation, this suppression can cause lingering psychological effects.
Agreeable Silence is a reflection of my personal experience, as well as my theoretical and visual investigation. The goal is to express the multilayered intrapsychological issues that migrant women face when they practice self-censorship, and to emphasize that while the moments of self-censorship may seem mundane at the time, the mental and emotional effects, such as depression, never part from its practitioners.
Lida Shanehchiyan is an Iranian-Canadian interdisciplinary artist and designer who started her formal artistic practice at the age of fifteen by attending a renowned art school Azadegan in Tehran. Later, she achieved Bachelor degree in graphic design from Azad University of Tehran and worked as a graphic designer and art director for well-known design agencies a few years before her migration to Canada. In 2006, Lida moved to Toronto and studied Master of Design (MDes) at York University. Since then, she has worked as a visual artist/designer and researcher with institutions such as OISI University of Toronto, Learning Technologies at Ryerson University, BMO and CIBC. Lida has received media recognition by BBC Persian and Now Magazine, etc. for her outstanding artworks.
Lida’s interests lie in such areas as thinking toward complex human problems such as gender issues related to socio-psychological matters which is reflected in her artistic practice including her MDes thesis “Contradiction and Paradoxes: Political Censorship and Visual Representation of Images of Women in Contemporary Iran” (2009), Her collaborative work with Political Prisoner Project with Dr. Shahrzad Mojab at OISI (2009 – present), and her current MFA thesis “Depression Behind the Agreeable Silence: Women, Migration and Self-Censorship”(2019).