The #NotACrime campaign, a worldwide street art project to advocate for human rights in Iran, lands in London this week with a new mural at the famed Village Underground street art wall on Holywell Lane in Shoreditch.
Dave the Chimp, a British artist and illustrator based in Berlin, is painting the new work. His depiction of human “beans” parading placards with positive slogans is a major new contribution to the campaign and focuses specifically on the persecution of Iran’s Baha’i religious minority. His work mixes cute and childlike styling with political messages. The mural will be accompanied by up to 20 smaller pieces across London. Dave the Chimp’s work can be seen at his site http://davethechimp.co.uk.
The smaller pieces will be miniature versions of the mural and spread across East, South and Central London. Location details will be on the #NotACrime website at www.notacrime.me and each will be changed periodically during the campaign.
The work is being curated by Cedar Lewisohn, the international street art curator, whose work has previously featured at the Tate Modern. Lewisohn will also lead the execution of Dave the Chimp’s mural and his smaller London-wide pieces.
#NotACrime works to stop the human rights abuse of Iranian Baha’is – who are barred from studying and teaching at universities because of their beliefs – and encourages universities around the world to admit Iranian Baha’i students. Maziar Bahari, a former Newsweek journalist who was jailed in Iran and became the subject of Jon Stewart’s film Rosewater, started the initiative.
“This campaign marries old and new forms of communication; street art, very similar to cave paintings, and modern social media activism. It will spark an important conversation,” Bahari said.
“I’m grateful that we’re able to shine a light on how the Iranian government is mistreating the Baha’is as I believe it serves as a barometer for understanding whether Iran is ready to operate like a modern and rational government.
#NotACrime began in New York City in September 2015 with 11 murals on education equality and freedom of expression across the city. Leading street artists from around the world, including the United States, Brazil, Argentina, Italy, and South Africa all painted artworks designed to provoke conversation about the Iranian government’s long history of violating the human rights of its citizens. The campaign has spread to Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia, Cape Town and Johannesburg, and Sydney. London previously featured a mural by the polish artist Zbiok on the jailed Iranian cartoonist, Atena Farghadani, at the same Holywell Lane wall.