A Media Artist's Response To Failing Diplomacy

When BriAnna Olson's pacifist views were confronted by an adamant American couple, she decided to heed their challenge and head to Tehran-- the epicenter of the Axis of Evil nation.

Amongst a landscape of failed diplomacy and media smear campaigns, she and fellow artist Michael Pope found a society far more alive and hospitable than they'd ever been led to believe.

Like jesters of a modern-day Magellan, they've returned with stories and insights to a culture few American's have seen first hand.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

YouTube // Score!

I've just found this video on YouTube and it makes a grrreat companion to Sign at Ground Zero (the impetus for this project). By showing from someone else's point of view, it really helps put the day/video in context. You can even see some of the same people in both videos!! Go internet!

(also, someone's pix here.) 

....click here for full article/permalink.

Beautiful Things // Iran Darroudi

Luminary Iran Darroudi
(Thanks to iranian.com for inspiring the post!)-- click through her paintings here. 

....click here for full article/permalink.

Mainstreamedia // NYTimes

A friend of mine sent this to me today. An article in New York Times about Iranian artists and the new market door that is Dubai, UAE.

....click here for full article/permalink.

Iran's Culture Cops // Short Documentary

Kouross Esmaeli is a New York filmmaker who has contributed a few doc pieces to Current TV's repertoire. His 'Tomato Unrest in Iran' was my first media experience of everyday Iranians.

This one, Iran's Culture Cops, seems refreshingly transparent as he was granted unheard of access to the group on the condition that he not manipulate their words.

I bet their words and intentions, if not actions, probably resonate with a number of people- and the insight this video brings is beyond compare. Nice one, Kouross.

....click here for full article/permalink.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

blogging bloggers bloggingly blogged

I hate to be too terribly meta, but I thought it'd be worth mentioning that this blog got a shout out from Global Voices blog, via the Pars Arts blog. See? Upon further investigation, I've decided that Global Voices rocks. 

....click here for full article/permalink.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Biennial Tehran // Berlin, Germany

(pictured: Dario Fariello, Italian performance artist adds to Polish cellist KOSTJA PICUNDA 84 's aural offerings)

I had the opportunity to be a resident artist @ Taktkunstprojektraum in Berlin while Biennial Tehran opened in select venues across the city. Both the residency and the exhibition proved to be legendary international creative ventures that will be forever carved into my own personal timeline... Beyond that, as far as this project is concerned, it was crucial for me to interact with Iranian artists away from the rules of an Islamic society.

@ Biennial Tehran, I met up with the curator, who I'd also visited while in Tehran. Our second encounter was decidedly more relaxed. Artists from Iran, Germany, Italy, France, Turkey, Australia, Serbia, Poland and other environs descended on Berlin in an unquestionably celebratory tone. It almost felt like a reunion of people who hadn't met yet. I had a piece in the show that needed particular curatorial attention and I was especially pleased at the way it was displayed, re: the lighting tricks required for the full effect of the ink variations. My opening was on Day 3 @ Wallywoods and that night has definitely made my Top Ten life experiences list. (Re: Wallywoods: "This underground artspace, freshly relocated to a derelict GDR "Kulturhaus" in Berlin Weissensee is the closest thing to Warhol's Factory to be found in the city. Its director, British artist Paul Woods, heads about 150 maladjusted unrecognized local talents.") The atmosphere was charged as people poured in from the streets to see Iranian bands play and drink and smoke without repercussion.

The other Biennial events, held at Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, West Germany and Ich Orya, also hosted musicians, 2D, and audio/visual installations/performances. Their next station is Belgrade and I'm already looking at flights to Serbia-- meeting Iranian artists out of their element is almost as rewarding as meeting them in Tehran.

@ the Takt residency I was able to screen my "Sign at Ground Zero" piece (along with showing a handful of other digital works) to a very receptive and interactive audience at their Open Studios. My colleagues hailed from the US, UK, Canada, Azerbaijan, Mexico, Italy and Serbia. 

....click here for full article/permalink.

ParsArts.com - Feature!

Head on over to ParsArts.com to read the article!

....click here for full article/permalink.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

the Reviews are in...

It seems that our presentation @ Cloud Club, Boston was verrry well received despite our lofty goal of covering an epic week in only a few hours. I just wanted to share some of that feedback- !

"I personally found the underground / progressive scene in Tehran to be of particular interest - fascinating that you guys were able to find it and gain access the way you did. And really valuable for Americans to see Iranian civilians as culturally alive and separate from their government, some pockets of them subverting the norms of their society. The presentation itself was unpretentious, yes, and refreshingly open-hearted, without self-conscious analysis / deconstruction or pomo irony chic that remains so pervasive in artistic circles. Also valuable is giving people the space to process information individually; we (westerners, Americans) are perpetually told what to think about the world and ourselves by the media. But I think what's actually important / universal transcends that sort of grasping."

"I have hugenormous respect and admiration for what you are doing and think it makes great art AND entertainment AND education AND fun hooray!"

"Well I think one thing you had going for you is the sort of unpretentious and unassuming way you've gone into this whole thing. Keep it simple. There was just something I liked about the whole idea of this cool, smart, attractive young American lady going to Iran and coming back to Boston to tell all of her freaky drunko cross-dressing artist friends what she saw. That's the way these things should be done, IMHO. There's too much "expert analysis" and political spin on everything you hear about the Middle East these days."

Loves it. 

....click here for full article/permalink.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Hypernova // Music Video

Indie-Rock phenoms Hypernova, whom I met in NYC fresh off the boat from Iran, have released their first music video. They've come far since playing in the basements of Tehran, and if you're quick you could catch them as they finish up their US tour with Sisters of Mercy. HypernovaMusic.com

....click here for full article/permalink.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Unconditional Love Shirts // REISSUE

Back, by popular demand.
And as seen on TV! (BBC, really)
Unconditional Love Tshirts on American Apparel heather tri-blend.

Pre-orders by November 28 // $23
AFTER November 28 // $28

------> Click here to get to the order page.


....click here for full article/permalink.

Picture Show // Boston

Despite growing up in Illinois and now living in New York, going to Boston still feels like home. This project was conceived at boston art/space Cloud Club (where Michael and I lived/met) and the 9/11 video screened first at sister art/space Pan 9. So, it was a no brainer that our first Picture Show should be to our favorite hometown crowd @ Cloud Club.

It was a super fantabulous FULL HOUSE.

The night opened with funnyman Mehran Khaghani then croooooner Lands took us through intermission. We found out that we have waaay too much to say for one evening. eeesh.

public video selections from the evening:

Waiting for Azad // Iranian Artists Forum from brianna olson on Vimeo.

Mellat Park // Northern Tehran from brianna olson on Vimeo.

Guts // Pariyoush in Tehran from brianna olson on Vimeo. 

....click here for full article/permalink.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Life Goes on in Tehran - October Feature

A little something I wrote up about our trip was featured in Life Goes on in Tehran. Head over there to check it out .

Also, bonus points if you find Michael in one of the photos. 

....click here for full article/permalink.