Like Pearls (2014)
Like Pearls is a web-based project, created by using mash-up of images and GIFs collected from Allahyari’s Farsi email spam for online underwear stores based in Iran. Per Iran’s Islamic law, the bodies of the underwear models are whited out, erased or covered with a pattern, creating a surreal image of sensuality and censorship.
The addition of sparkly, gaudy GIFs with a digital version of “I Want it That Way” by the Backstreet Boys in the background add the surrealness of the images. When the viewer clicks on various GIFs, a pop-up window appears with a passive-aggressive line of text that supposedly indicates romance or love, though in a slightly menacing manner (“I want you to be mine forever,” or “Let her wear your love”).
Through the use of cliche images of love and romance, and the contradictory nature of underwear advertisements for an Islamic culture, Like Pearls examines how the kitsch aesthetics of spam and advertisement on the Iranian web is a complex phenomena, involving layers of cultural and religious censorship and oppression toward women and romance.