The only social media that remains unfiltered in Iran is Instagram. That makes it the go-to source for expats like Maryam Faridani, who are seeking news and information from home. The difference with Faridani is that she gives as good as she gets, maybe better. Since 2018, this weirdly profound digital artist has produced dozens of—for lack of a better term—editorial cartoons that she puts up as stories on the site. They comment on the daily news, whether it’s the suspicious death of former president Rafsanjani, the smuggling of tomatoes into the country disguised as cauliflowers, or the mysterious smell that permeated Tehran for days. What do Faridani’s gifs look like? Many feature her face, more or less obscured behind cute little animals, torrential waves, diagrams, headlines, and other randomly coherent items. They’re bizarre, unkempt, clever, critical, utterly contemporary, very silly, and totally their own thing. If this is what happens when newspapers fall to censorship and bankruptcy, maybe there’s hope yet.
—Lori Waxman 2020-02-01 10:27 PM