Parastou Forouhar grew up in Tehran, the daughter of leading figures in the Democratic Party opposing the Shah’s rule. Her childhood was filled with politics and her youth with the changes resulting from the 1979 revolution. In 1991, Forouhar left Iran to continue her studies in Germany. After her parents were brutally murdered in their home in 1998, uncovering hidden mechanisms of intolerance has been central to her work. The central figure in Swanrider 2004 is a chador-clad woman – played by the artist – riding a gigantic white swan on the calm waters of the River Lahn in Germany. Invoking the mythical associations of Leda and the swan, and perhaps also Hans Christian Anderson’s tale of the ugly duckling transformed into a beautiful swan, Forouhar emphasises the importance of moving beyond ‘such opposites as good and evil, fortune and misfortune, the beautiful and ugly’.