A collection of notes from the Iranian diaspora.
Arts, culture, community.

farsizaban:

Happy Chaharshanbe Souri, Guys!
(Picture, Famous Iranian singers Haydeh (right) and Mahasti jump over a fire, A chaharshanbe Souri tradition. Circa 1970’s)

farsizaban:

Happy Chaharshanbe Souri, Guys!

(Picture, Famous Iranian singers Haydeh (right) and Mahasti jump over a fire, A chaharshanbe Souri tradition. Circa 1970’s)

THE SHEIK, a new documentary starring 1980s wrestling icon (and more recently, Twitter phenom) The Iron Sheik. An important figure for Iranian-American public culture, to be sure. Coming soon!

Yes, ghorme sabzi is delicious and earned this lovely devotional by Scheherazad. Now where is ‘Fesenjoon’??

11 Persian-American Artists, Filmmakers, and Musicians That Are Bringing Iran to the United States

I am always glad to see Iranian artists in the diaspora getting positive attention in mainstream media. It wasn’t long ago that the only interest in them (if any) would have been the political messages, struggles, and fantasies derived from their work. So kudos to VF for giving these cultural workers some mainstream attention for the quality and range of their work regardless of whether there is any connection to politics, protest, or the like.

But my favorite thing about all the links I’ve seen to this slideshow in social media is that individuals from different parts of the Iranian-American diaspora have questioned this title, wanting to know why Vanity Fair referred to this group as Persian Americans. This issue of Iranian vs Persian may feel like the fight no longer worth fighting for some of us, but it does resonate for many people in Iranian communities and continues to be a source of contestation. So when the mainstream media shines its spotlight ever so briefly, it leaves many of us wondering who Nancy Jo talked to, and why she chose this term. Iran is mentioned in the title, so “Persian” wasn’t an avoidance tactic as it was for so many Iranians in the 1980s, seeking to avoid discrimination in a tense United States. And surely it can’t just be that she (or her editor) didn’t want to repeat “Iran” in the title? To use Persian denotes ethnicity. Did she vet the ethnicity of all 11 of these artists? Somehow I doubt it… And we’ve heard from Shirin and others in this list about their thoughts on their own identities. Shirin is Iranian. She is also American. Whether or not she is Persian, it is not how she generally identities herself. So why would VF do so for her and others? It leaves me wondering if there was even a discussion about it. Does Nancy Jo know about this particular identity thorn in our collective side? 

On a semi-related note, a quote from Shirin Neshat in a Globe and Mail article from 2010, addressing one of the more annoying questions she must get from her own community, and drawing a connection between artistic practice and identity:

"I’m as much a Westerner as I am Iranian," she added. "My work shows that and there’s nothing to be ashamed of. So when an Iranian gets up and criticizes me, saying, ‘I heard some Moroccan accent among your extras’ or ‘We don’t have that kind of palm tree in Iran,’ I say, ‘Good, now you understand the struggle of creating Iran in Morocco.’ … When an artist is forced to work somewhere else, for whatever reason, you’re going to have the flavour of having other cultures infiltrating your work. And that’s okay. Because it’s honest."

 

The music of the Persian underground

Part of a series on “Freedom” from the BBC: a short audio/photo essay from Bolour in Stockholm & Tblisi, interviewing rock musicians and instrument designers.

"K-Von Presents Nowruz," trailer for a film by Iranian-American comedian, K-Von, on his journey across America talking to Iranian-Americans about and during Nowruz.

Afghan-American photographer Masood Kamandy’s “Matter Out of Place,” on view now at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles gallery. Read more at KCET:

"Once 9/11 happened I thought ‘Oh I have this part of me that I’ve never addressed’ and I want to go and explore and learn the language — well, learn it better," he says. "So I started a photography school in Kabul, at Kabul University 12 years ago, and in fact I went to Kabul last summer to teach a course. The project started in 2002 and lasted until 2005, when the department was established." 
…
Though deeply vocal of his love of Kabul and its culture, he clarifies that he resolved to divide his social practice and art practice in order to avoid potentially commodifying his heritage and his experience. “I thought about becoming a war photographer at first,” he says, “I was just starting photo school when September 11th happened and I seriously considered changing my entire life to illuminate what was happening in the world and war zones.” But after visiting and photographing family members, he says he changed his hind. “I made a very conscious decision to not make work there and to actually take all the energy that I could spend there and put it toward education there.”

Afghan-American photographer Masood Kamandy’s “Matter Out of Place,” on view now at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles gallery. Read more at KCET:

"Once 9/11 happened I thought ‘Oh I have this part of me that I’ve never addressed’ and I want to go and explore and learn the language — well, learn it better," he says. "So I started a photography school in Kabul, at Kabul University 12 years ago, and in fact I went to Kabul last summer to teach a course. The project started in 2002 and lasted until 2005, when the department was established." 

Though deeply vocal of his love of Kabul and its culture, he clarifies that he resolved to divide his social practice and art practice in order to avoid potentially commodifying his heritage and his experience. “I thought about becoming a war photographer at first,” he says, “I was just starting photo school when September 11th happened and I seriously considered changing my entire life to illuminate what was happening in the world and war zones.” But after visiting and photographing family members, he says he changed his hind. “I made a very conscious decision to not make work there and to actually take all the energy that I could spend there and put it toward education there.”

LONDON: Digital Revolution, Journalism, and Persian-Speaking News Consumers (Event)

A discussion panel and drinks reception with a live music performance by Iranian country and blues singer-songwriter Abdi Behranvanfar

The discussion is in Farsi but expert simultaneous translation will be available through headsets

Panelists:

Ali May, Broadcaster and award-winning writer (moderator)

Maziar Bahari, Journalist and filmmaker

Masih Alinejad, Journalist and writer

Kelly Niknejad, Editor-in-Chief at TehranBureau

On behalf of the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, Small Media would like to invite you to join us for an innovative and interactive panel discussion on March 5th at the Free Word Centre in Farringdon.

The expert panel will discuss the topic ‘Digital Revolution, Journalism and Persian News Consumers’ as part of the Munk School’s “Iran and its Youth - a Series of Dialogues” program.

We have seen a revolution in all aspects of media in the past two decades. We started out with 24-hr rolling news networks like CNN, which already seem outmoded by the newer advances in digital technologies. Today, it is smartphones and social media that rule when consumers need to get their dose of daily or breaking news. On the 5th of March we bring together industry leaders to discuss some of the major issues related to digital journalism while trying to draw a comparison between the global trends and what is happening in the Farsi-speaking media, particularly inside Iran.

The panel discussion will be webcast live for an audience in Iran. All audience members, including those present at the Free Word Center, will be able to ask questions of the panelists via online means, so don’t forget your smartphones!

Admission is free, but you need to reserve your attendance in advance, so please register here!

The trailer for “Illusions & Mirrors,” a short film directed by Shirin Neshat, starring Natalie Portman. From IMDB:

Every year the Viennale invites a famous director to produce a short film as the festival trailer. In 2013 the choice has fallen on Iranian-American artist Shirin Neshat, world-renowned for her installations and photos. Neshat’s work ILLUSIONS & MIRRORS, circa two minutes long, was created as part of a larger project, a half-feature-length experimental film, which she will be shooting in the coming weeks with the support of Dior.

TORONTO: ‘Jik jik mastoon’ is the first annual Spring Equinox celebration by a group of Toronto-based Iranian artists, makers, designers, and friends called ‘bachehaye famil’, and will be held on Saturday March 15th. This is not your typical Norouz market, as we (bache-haye famil) came together to create a one-day sensory experience for you. This independently-run and family-friendly festival will feature 12 straight hours of live music, performances, screening, story-telling, Norouz market, fun workshops, games, and feasts of fresh food and drink.

Trailer for "Falling Leaves (Barg Rizan),”the debut feature film by Ali Jaberansari. It was shot in Iran with post-production in London, UK completed June, 2013. Screening today in London. h/t SixPillars

The plot of Falling Leaves sees Amir try to convince his son in California to leave his American girlfriend and return to Iran in order to save the traditional family business. But when Amir, who is clearly in the Autumn of his own life, meets a woman from his past, he is forced to rethink both his choices and priorities in life. The screening takes place on the evening of 24th February. Find out about tickets and more about the film here.

Contemporary Iranian Art: New Perspectives, the new book by Hamid Keshmirshekan. Out in March.

Renowned art historian Hamid Keshmirshekan explores contemporary art in Iran and considers the relationship between its cultural past, modernism, and the issue of contemporaneity with regard to cultural specificity.
Using over three hundred color illustrations, Keshmirshekan contends that the twentieth century is a crucial period in the culture and art of Iran—when the legacies of tradition and modernism were being critically reviewed and the artistic concerns were indivisible from ideological ones.

Hamid Keshmirshekan is an art historian, critic, visiting fellow at the faculty of Oriental Studies at the University of Oxford, and editor-in-chief of the bilingual quarterly Art Tomorrow.

Contemporary Iranian Art: New Perspectives, the new book by Hamid Keshmirshekan. Out in March.

Renowned art historian Hamid Keshmirshekan explores contemporary art in Iran and considers the relationship between its cultural past, modernism, and the issue of contemporaneity with regard to cultural specificity.

Using over three hundred color illustrations, Keshmirshekan contends that the twentieth century is a crucial period in the culture and art of Iran—when the legacies of tradition and modernism were being critically reviewed and the artistic concerns were indivisible from ideological ones.

Hamid Keshmirshekan is an art historian, critic, visiting fellow at the faculty of Oriental Studies at the University of Oxford, and editor-in-chief of the bilingual quarterly Art Tomorrow.

IRAN:RPM Vol. 2Collection of Kanoon’s Vinyl Record ProductionsLaunch and panel discussion - DUBAI, UAE IRAN:RPM is an ongoing project focused on Iranian vinyl record discography. The first edition, published in 2012, is a study on Iranian film soundtracks featuring a selection of vinyl covers from 1965-1974. Launching this March, the second edition is a survey of the activities of the Institute for Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults (IIDCYA), also known as Kanoon.IIDCYA was founded in 1965 in response to the lack of leisure and recreational facilities available to the new generation in Iran. The institute offered a wide range of cultural and artistic activities focusing on the mental and cultural development of children and young adults. Through an archive compiled by Ali Bakhtiari, IRAN:RPM Vol. 2 presents the collaboration between Kanoon and some of Iran’s most prominent cultural practitioners in the fields of storytelling, poetry, puppetry, film and animation, music, and visual arts.20 MarchLaunch and book signingSalsali Private MuseumAl Serkal Avenue, Unit 14, Al Quoz 1, Street 8DUBAI22 March, 4-5pm Panel DiscussionArt Dubai - Modern TerraceMadinat JumeirahDUBAIIRAN:RPM is edited and compiled by Ali Bakhtiari in collaboration with StudioKargah, and is published by Magic of Persia.
In case you have a ton of cash burning a hole in your pocket and a free Sunday afternoon next week at UCLA, here’s an option for you: “Voice of the Persian Gulf: Maestro Shardad Rohani,” with the maestro’s orchestra in the US premiere of his Sinus Persicus Suite. I take from this flyer that this is a symphonic suite inspired by the Persian Gulf. It seems kind of like the “Is not Gulf, is Persian Gulf” billboard in a (probably very nice) symphonic suite… if that’s your kinda thing.
Contemporary Iranian-American Fiction: Five Women, Five Books — University of Pennsylvania, March 6, 2014. Featuring Anita Amirrezvani, Marjan Kamali, Persis Karim, Firoozeh Kashani-Sabet, and Porochista Khakpour. 

Contemporary Iranian-American Fiction: Five Women, Five Books — University of Pennsylvania, March 6, 2014. Featuring Anita Amirrezvani, Marjan Kamali, Persis Karim, Firoozeh Kashani-Sabet, and Porochista Khakpour.