A pop-up Shahnameh? Yes! And a beautiful one at that. Support this innovative project at http://www.fictionvillestudio.com/shahnamehpopup/
Yellow Dog Days: How Four Iranian Musicians Lived—and Died—in Brooklyn
For the kids in Tehran’s underground rock scene, the dream was simple: party, make music, and escape to New York, where the life they wanted was legal. By 2011 three bands—the Yellow Dogs, Hypernova, and the Free Keys—had found their way to Brooklyn. But as their indie community thrived, one of the band members was sinking fast. Nancy Jo Sales discovers how, on November 11, four young Iranian musicians ended up dead.
Another one from Nancy Jo; this time a full-length report on the tragic loss of several members of the Yellow Dogs.
Norooz 101 - An Illustrated Guide to the Persian New Year
It’s that time of year again! For Iranians, Afghans, Tajiks, Kurds, and so many others, the next two weeks will be full of celebrating and fun, observing old traditions and making new ones of our own. Share the Persian New Year with this excellent primer from Fig and Quince — it’s not just about haft-seens and fire-jumping, but a whole constellation of traditions (new and old, here and there) that make this time of year so special!
Happy Spring, everyone!
Zacon - Ra'na
Surely you’ve heard (and memorized, and danced to, and sang, and dreamt about) Rastak’s “Rana”? But now check out this version of the song by Zacon. Chopped, screwed, and I don’t know what else.
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.