I was born in Iran during the Iran–Iraq War, in a time marked by unrest and insecurity. My father was an artist and an author, which made my family even more vulnerable. All artistic professions were limited after the revolution and millions of people had to flee the country for this reason. My family and I first fled to Azerbaijan, then to Germany and in 1989 we reached our new home, Sweden. I remember how worry and anxiety were interspersed with hope and courage to keep us going towards new horizons and brighter opportunities.
I was just five years old and despite these difficult circumstances, I got the chance to grow up with great inspiration from art, music and poetry.
A new journey began in 2010, when I as a singer got the opportunity to participate in one of the biggest Persian music competitions called Googoosh Music Academy in London. Millions of people in Iran and around the world followed our journey on their TV screens. To stand as a female soloist on stage and to participate in a competition was something unique since it is forbidden in Iran and such women’s talent, creativity and expression is today punished by censorship and oppression. Therefore, I found my calling to be their voice. Since then, I have worked with women’s rights in different ways by highlighting their strength, talent and perspectives through artistic expression, where the women’s participation is central.
In 2014, I published an anthology, Zan (meaning woman in Persian), where I collected and showcased the inspiring stories and struggles of nine women in Iran. In the touring music show with the same name, I share my personal experiences growing as an artist and also about the music in Iran before the revolution.
Between 2014 and 2019 I was also the Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Women National Committee in Sweden.
The idea for my project ARTDOM came when I started to further reflect on the boundaries and injustices that women experience around the world; something that can feel distant yet still is so close.
How do women define freedom, feminism and equality?
Hundreds of thousands of people globally have so far been able to follow the process through social media, TV features and exhibitions. All this work has proven how great an impact we can all have together and that hope and justice is a cause for us all.
My wish is to be able to continue building bridges between different countries, share more women’s voices and that all who want to will have the chance to follow this eventful journey that has become my life mission: to give women around the world a stronger voice together, and where every step counts.
“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life of our souls.”
Isabelle Andö is a freelance violinist since 2012, based in Stockholm.
She plays in various genres and constellations and often produces her own concert projects and tours, among others a collaboration with three Indian musicians and Swedish string quartet Kristallkvartetten in 2015, called “India meets Sweden” (newly composed music by Jyotsna Srikanth and with support of Swedish Arts Council and Region/The Norrbotten County Council). She has substituted in orchestras like Gävle Symfoniorkester, Norrbottens Kammarorkester and Nordiska Kammarorkestern.
As a member of Stråkkapellet Isabelle has played and toured with various Swedish artists such as Darin, Mikael Wiehe and Veronica Maggio. Autumn 2018 Isabelle was part of Peter Jöback’s show “Med hjärtat som insats” at Cirkus in Stockholm, and in spring 2019 Jonas Gardell’s show “Queen of F*cking Everything”, also at Cirkus.
In December 2015 Isabelle initiated and produced a charity concert at Stockholm Waterfront called “Under samma himmel” (Under the same sky) by reason of the refugee crisis. All participants worked ideally and the income went to UNHCR. (In collaboration with Waterfront and with Tickster as main sponsor).
Arghavan was invited to participate in the concert, and since this first meeting Isabelle and Arghavan have continued working together, but musically and since a few months Isabelle is also involved in ARTDOM’s work. https://isabelleando.se/