A Media Artist's Response To Failing Diplomacy
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Pariyoush Ganji is a internationally renowned painter, lecturer and instructor at Tehran University.
Meeting her was the highlight of the trip, and this moment, even more so than holding up "Unconditional Love is Global Security" at Azadi Monument, represented the fulfillment of the hopes I had for this project.
She welcomed us into her home and studio and I told her the story of my path to her house-- from "Sign at Ground Zero" to landing in Tehran two years later. She lauded me and the concept enough to make me blush. "Guts" she says, "You've got real guts" and goes on to discuss her concern that my generation and the generations after me have no philosophy and as a result, no spark behind their actions or art. It's clear that I've made an impression on her and she gave me temporary license to sing my own praises, which felt cathartic-- all the while with Michael at my side. He gushes when he tells the story and describes the whole experience as the passing of a torch.
....click here for full article/permalink.
This must be one of the more frustrating consequences of the Iranian government.
Vahid is a legacy in his own mind and all the curators are catching on.
Michael and I had a chance to hang with him at his show (see Day 5) and at his studio (with Ali Ettehad, see Day 8).
Google him for his 'Waiting for Jeff Koons' and 'Bush Distance Family' pieces.
On our last day, Michael shot a video portrait of him, which I can't wait to see.
The background on his PC's desktop was an amazing reminder of the power of the image and the internet. Americans!
"Hijab" is the name for modest dress-- I've been using the term to mean 'headscarf' but thats incorrect. Because a few verses of the Quran calls for it, and Iran is an Islamic Republic, a woman must cover her head and hide her figure in Iran. Only her hands, feet, and face can be seen. (Score one for foot fetishists). Standard is the manteau (jacket) very similar to any H&M, Anne Taylor, or whathaveyou spring jacket. It is usual to see muted colors-- tan, black, navy. There is also the chador-- (literally: tent) a giant piece of fabric, usually black, which is sort of like a cape. Women will wear either a manteau, a chador, or both.
Variation is found in head coverings-- but never once did I see a woman with her face covered.
There is a clear narrative in the covering of my head over the course of the trip. I had already purchased my robe and headpiece in the Islamic part of Brooklyn. The (muslim) guy who worked there clearly knew nothing about Iran- he told Michael that he needed to buy a long robe (long robes are a Sunni Muslim thing, Iran is a Shiite country).
When I first got there, the whole thing was a novelty, but over the course of the first day I began to feel terribly unhappy. It was only a few women that made me the most uncomfortable-- the ones in all black, looking me up and down, not even cracking a smile. I had posed as a Muslim but not acted like one. My body language was slightly open, my camera was in my hands, I was casually strolling through the bazaar. This was my first experience of how a society polices itself- if I were Iranian and had to deal with this daily, my spirit would be bruised a bit and I would likely start avoiding eye contact and keep my gaze down... eventually I'd be so bitter that I'd start scowling at anyone I thought was enjoying life more than me. And the cycle continues...
Fortunately, I understand that the key to letting the world know that I'm not Iranian (therefore shouldn't be judged by the same rules) is a different outfit. I start with a shiny scarf. Continue with a lush, pearl one. And finish with a new manteau and pashmina. My outlook shifted with every change in attire.
My penultimate experience with hijab was at a "cultural center" where chadors are required. This 'chador' was little more than a bed sheet that I was to hold closed with one arm. I was quite tired from running around all day, but this was our chance to have tea with a Mullah so I stuck with it. As we were leaving we posed for group photos-- after the first two photos, the Mullah's assistant asked me (very politely) to close my chador as my manteau was showing. I almost started laughing/crying at the display of clownishness. My respect for the whole thing was lost in that instant.
....click here for full article/permalink.
If you visit his site, you definitely won't be disappointed. ....click here for full article/permalink.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Monday, October 6, 2008
It's quiet. I'm watching CNN and catching up on emails. Michael is fiddling with his new digital camera- a kodak point and shoot that we picked up at b&h yesterday.
I'm hoping I didn't forget anything...
The nice man just announced that we are boarding in 10 minutes-- and it looks as if I have a window seat.
=) ....click here for full article/permalink.
Our flight to Dubai tomorrow is 13 hours long. When we arrive it will be 8AM in the U.A.E., but near Midnight Eastern Standard Time.
My body will be completely confused, I'm sure.
We have a day to spend there before our short (2 hour) flight to Tehran.
Hopefully it'll give us a chance to ease into Islamic society.
Bags are packed. Batteries are charging.
I'm feeling more sublime that anything else right now.
Watch out Tehran, here comes Super Awesome Adventure Club.