Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Last Day of 2006

In the last day of 2006 I thought I write about my last intellectual activities in 2006.

The last book that I read in 2006 was Full Dark House by Christopher Fowler. It is the beginning of a series of crime novels, which I like very much. The most recent books that I am reading (listening to) nowadays are Marx Sisters by Barry Maitland and the audio book for Of Mice & Men by John Steinbeck. Of Mice & Men was my nighttime story when I was 8, I sometimes think it was a strange choice for that age but I loved it. I really was into Lenny then. I just wanted someone to read it to me once more so I get its audio performance. My mom read a lot to me when I was a kid, and I don’t mind re-hearing them since I miss her a lot.

The last movie I saw in 06 was Blood Diamond (2006) directed by Edward Zwick, who also directed, The Last Samurai (2003) and Glory (1989) and the producer of Shakespeare In Love (1998). Blood Diamond is what I call a Moral Drama-Thriller. It is a thriller, concerned with humanitarian problems, war and desperation; now add to it an attractive journalist and let it be happening in Africa the “God-Forgotten Continent”. The movie, I believe is a nice fictional narration of Blood Diamonds a nonfiction book, which was published about the bloodshed behind the smuggled diamonds from Africa to Europe and America written by a freelance journalist, Greg Campbell. However the screenplay and the story are written by Charles Leavitt. Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance is beautiful and I think he deserves an Oscar for it as well as for his role in Departed.

The last photo project that I did in 06 was a set of 8 self-portraits. I don’t like to be photographed at all, but I wanted to send some pictures back home so I took them myself. And the last time I opened a dictionary in 06 was about 30 minutes ago to look at the meaning of Philanthropic.

The last meal I cooked was Khoresh-te- Geyme. I am still thinking about cooking meatloaf for tonight, we might as well go out for dinner so it is not clear what will be our last meal in 2006.

Now I have to study which will be the last study of 06.

Happy 2007!

View from Washington Monument, Washington DC

P.S. Finally I cooked two dishes: Meatloaf and Basil-Shrimp-Angel Hair Pasta and our friends have come over and of course the talk of the night is Saddam Hussein’s sudden execution and memories of Iran-Iraq war.

Friday, December 29, 2006

A Visit to MOMA & Validity of Information

This Wednesday was not one of those crowded days in New York, considering the fact that we are getting closer to the end of the year. I went to MOMA to see America Fantastica the show I was planning to see since the beginning of December. After going up and down the stairs for about 15 minuets and checking the museum plan, I asked the information desk. Following my explanations and their inspections they came to the conclusion that I am in the wrong museum. I referred them to their own website but nothing happened. The Exhibition existed on the net but not in the real world. I visit museums so often that most of the times I skip the permanent collections and I get to the specific exhibitions that I have planed for. Despite the inaccuracy of their webpage, I was happy that there were two more exhibitions, which I wanted to see and luckily for me all the museums in New York State are Free (except Guggenheim).

I saw Eye on Europe: Prints, Books & Multiples/ 1960 to Now and Manet and the Execution of Maximilian (He is Not Monet. They - Claude MONET and Edouard MANET- met each other but Manet is the older one and his works were like a bridge between Realism and Impressionism). A socio-historical approach in Manet exhibition was very interesting especially the old documentary photographs of the real execution of Emperor Maximilian. In the Eye on Europe I really enjoyed the most recent work of Mona Hatoum, a series of Etchings called Hair There & Everywhere (2004). Not only I enjoyed it I felt it since they really portray the detached human hair.

MOMA and a little bit of invalid information was not my concern then but I think in a broader view it should be. How much are we all are relying on the validity of the information given to us by the web? Are we conscious that the online information may be false or we are so drawn by the easiness of the availability of it?

The apocryphal information does not do much harm as far as the branches of humanities - such as arts - are concerned. But what about sciences and medical information!

Today on Talk of the Nation on NPR I heard an interesting talk about Education Frontiers and Podcast U, which was exploring different aspects of the uploaded lectures by university instructors on iTunes. A few of those who called during the program were concerned about the accuracy of educational information, a Yale Historian among them. Still most people were quite enthusiastic about these Free classes and Free information and Free etc. It was frightening for me to see when something is free people think that it is worth it, and of course I don’t mean one should depend on some information only if they have paid for it.

With Wikipedia, podcasts and all other online sources, a crucial question everyone should ask him/herself is this: Is the Democratization of Information positive and valid and if it is, in what extend ?

The Execution of Maximilian, Manet, 1867-8

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Two Must See Movies !

Sick and devastated by flu from last week, I am still struggling to inhale as much air as I can. Yet I managed to work out three things on top of my Must To Do List and thanks God I am done with them. First of all I had to double-check some dates on some letters in Seligmann’s ducuments, in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University, which I did a few days ago; I also managed to spend some time with my little friends there in New Haven. Then I had to catch up on my Mystery Mondays book club reading Marx Sisters. And last but not least I had to go through my photo library and sort out more than 2658 photos. There are 4 more things on my list, waiting for me to get to them and hopefully I will be done with them before next week.

I also saw two very good movies. They are both Must Sees.

First one was Volver (2006) directed by Pedro Almadovar. A nice Spanish story, through Almadovar’s eyes with Penelope Cruz’s excellent performance, it is a magical narration, which could not be told in any other medium but Cinema. Currently I am reading a selection of Latin American short stories or Novellas and Volver adds some more spices to the mysterious and magical images that I get from reading those novellas.

Then there was Little Children (2006) directed by Todd Field. It has a very powerful decoupage and lots of memorable images thanks to the director and Antonio Calvache, a thoughtful Cinematographer. The story is a narration on the lives, thoughts and behavior of a well-established community in Massachusetts. While the narration remains neutral toward main characters (Sarah and Brad and Ronald) the viewer somehow gets a sense of being in favor of them and against the judgmental community they live in. yet at the end, the most obvious change of character happens for Larry (a retired police officer) who is negatively passionate about his duties as a police officer that he is not any more and Lucy (Sarah’s daughter) who finally gets into the car-seat. No need to mention Kate Winslet’s great performance.

Enjoy the Holidays!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

From Celebration To Movie

Coming to the point to apply for Ph.D. was not that hard especially since I enjoy Art History and Criticism and its theories so much. But in this process filling the applications and putting together materials requested for each school was one thing and accepting that your package is good enough to be sent was another. It is with this second part, that I really have a hard time. Getting satisfaction from the materials, which I am sending, and saying to myself: “it is enough and there is nothing left for me to do” was and is so painful that I don’t even want to get there. Anyway I just sent my application for two of the schools that I am applying for.

At 9 am the post office was packed with people sending their holiday cards, mostly for Christmas and New Year and not for Hanukkah, since we are in its second day already. I waited 20 minuets for my turn. I usually prefer to use the Self-Mailing-Machine rather than going to a clerk but today the machine was not working either. At any account I sent them today with a lot of hope anxiously hanging in my belly.

I am still busy with my paper. Although my adviser was very happy with the second draft of my thesis and I got a lot of “Bravos” and “Excellent Jobs” I like to write some more formal discussions on the painting itself.

And soon it is our Mithraism celebration of Shab-e Yalda. It is the historical Persian celebration of the longest night of the year. Mithraists considered this the night in which the sun is borne and since this night days become longer and longer. I love Yalda, but around this time I always miss my family greatly: we always celebrated Yalda in our home with watermelons, pomegranates and lots of dried fruits.

Today we are invited to join the celebration of the second day of Hanukkah with our dear friends. And I have to get ready. so: Happy Hanukkah.

P.S. we just got back; it was a very cheerful night; lighting candles, dancing and singing about 14 songs. My friend translated the songs for me they are about lighting the candles and the miracle of light that happened after a victory in a war and we had a really merry night.

In the last month or so I saw these movies and I make it short since I am going to see one right now:

The Queen (2006): B+ [Good and slow, the thing that I did not like very much was the release of this News weeks after The Queen was shown.]

Marie Antoinette (2006): A [I like Sofia Coppola and once again she has proved that she sees from a new angle with a very creative music choice: Modern Music over Louis the XIV ‘s Royal Curt.]

Happy Feet (2006): F [even for Kids it is not good just save yourself some time and money don’t see it. Your are hearing it from someone who loves animations]

Flags of Our Fathers (2006): A- [Not one of Clint Eastwood’s best but certainly kept me hanging for seeing the second part.]

Stranger Than Fiction (2006): B- [When a nice story gets destroyed by famous actors: Not that they did not play good. In fact they were really good but for such a story you don’t want to know the actors. I believe the cast should have been made of amateurs. I would have liked to read the story rather than seeing it. I think my imagination would have worked better.]

Hanukkah Night

Monday, December 11, 2006

Weekend In Action

On Friday we went to see/hear Princeton University Orchestra. It was a very cheerful performance to the point that the freezing cold of that Friday night became forgivable. The piece that I really liked was Debussy’s Nuages (Clouds) and Fetes (Festivals) from his Nocturnes.

There are two exhibitions that I would like to check as soon as possible. One of them is a photo exhibition near Princeton, on Gruss Center of Visual arts in Lawrenceville, called Eyes On Me: Portraits of Muslim Women. I am more interested to see Shirin Neshat’s influence on these artists: at least by the look of the invitation card it seems she had a lot of influence. This exhibition is up until December 15th so there is not much time.

The second exhibition is America Fantastica: Art, Literature, and the Surrealist Legacy in Experimental Publishing, 1938–1968 which is up until January 22nd on MOMA. I read all volumes of View and VVV on the rare book section of Princeton art library. I think these publications are one of the most amazing avant-garde magazines that have ever existed.

Since I was studying very late on Saturday night and through Sunday morning I had planed to see Mars, Mercury and Jupiter on daybreak, exactly where the sun rises on the east. We could see it with naked-eye. It was a very unique experience. My poor husband wanted to go to sleep, but of course I did not let him.

Also this is the first post that I write/type with my new MacBook laptop for Tameshk. Her Name is Bibi Huryeh and she was my birthday present. (There is no need to say that I love her.)

Bibi Huryeh, My new MacBook Laptop

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Power of Photography !

This past Saturday, on my way back from the barbershop, I was listening to NPR (National Public Radio). I always like to listen to NPR especially to the Weekend Edition. The program this time was far more interesting than I could imagine. After more than 20 year, an anonymous photographer of an execution photo, which had won the Pulitzer Prize, has been found by a Wall Street Journal reporter.

What made it more important for me was the birthplace of the photo that goes back to Iran. It is of the execution of 9 Kurds in Sanandaj in 1979, one year after revolution. I hardly could wait to see the real photo. After I got home I went to the NPR website and it was there; a black and white photograph, so powerful, so sad and so touching. It tells the story of 9 men being executed in the mist of a newborn revolution with the presence of no jury no attorney, only with one Judge/Prosecutor in a 5-minute trial. It was not the first nor the last time that this kind of execution took place in Iran but it was the first time that a reporter along with a photographer were present and the story was covered in the media. After the photo was published in the first page of Ettelaat, an Iranian afternoon newspaper, it made world news and became the picture of the Islamic Revolution. It mainly was because of this photo that newspaper censorship began in Iran of after the revolution. You can hear the story of this photo and its not-anymore-anonymous photographer from Josh Prager the Wall Street Journal reporter, who spent 4 years in order to discover the photographer and the story of these men.

Photographer: Jahangir Razmi
A government firing squad executes nine Kurdish rebels
and two former police officers of the deposed Shah of Iran
after summary trials, Aug. 27, 1979.
The next day, another 21 Kurdish rebelsand military deserters were executed.

Other photos of the same day by the same photographer are here.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Hardship & Joy

About a week ago I visited the Prints Study Room at Met (the Metropolitan Museum of Art). Now I truly believe that the hidden treasure of any museum, if they have one, is the Prints’ archive and in the Met they have an unbelievable collection. I love prints especially Japanese prints of 18 and 19 century. But I started to appreciate printmaking more after I paid a visit to the Prints study room at Met where I realized how much work is needed to make a single print board or a metal plate; hardship and joy together, I guess.

Among the various printmaking techniques* I like Lithography the best. It will be interesting to see the Met collection of Drawings and Prints. But you better know that due to the sensitivity to light of works on paper, selections from the collection are featured in temporary exhibitions. The permanent collection of this department at Met comprises approximately 11,000 drawings and 1.5 million prints. Huge isn't it!

Jane Avril, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Lithograph/Poster, 1899

Skaters, Sybil Andrews, Linocut, 1953

The Three Trees, Rembrandt, Etching-Drypiont-Engraving, 1643

* The basic techniques of printmaking are: Woodcut, Engraving, Etching, Mezzotint, Aquatint, Drypoint, Lithography, Screen-printing and Digital Prints.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving !

A late Happy Thanksgiving!

I was so busy yesterday that I could not post this in time for Thanksgiving. Although Thanksgiving is one of a few real American celebrations/ holidays, I like to add a painting by a French artist, Paul Cézanne here; Mostly because I adore Cézanne and his paintings and a little bit because it has a Reddish-Orange feeling; like Thanksgiving.

Apples and Oranges, Paul Cézanne, 1895-1900

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I am a Student. Don't Taser me !

I finished the first draft of my thesis on Thursday. I was happy with the result, happier when I heard my advisor’s comments.

But my swollen eyes did not get better after I heard the news about the UCLA student stunned by Taser gun. Everything on this news was disturbing; the six-minute video, shot by another student, was the most disgusting thing I have seen in years. The story goes that after 11 pm or so all students have to have their ID in order to be able to stay in the UCLA library. Apparently this student did not show any ID and perhaps was not happy that the library assistant is asking him for one. They get to an argument (whatever it was) the library supervisor calls the campus police (security) more than three of them showed up (my guess is there was four of them) and they started to escort the student out of the library when the student supposedly limped and got Tasered over and over by the security. Even after he was handcuffed they still used the Taser gun.

The least one can ask (whether the student was offensive or not) is how the police, apparently the four of them, could find the student a threat after he was handcuffed.

The moral issue is who or what is the subject of the campus security’s protection; the students or the institutes: There are buildings, institutes and agencies in civil societies that are defined by the people within them. Academia is one of those. There are the students who give the real meaning to a university. Whom are we protecting the universities for and from? What kind of a policy allows carrying Taser guns, or any controversial weapon for that mater, within the walls of universities and use them with no conscious on someone who forgot to bring his ID? Regardless of the student’s ethnicity, since I don’t believe that the case was racial (at least in the beginning), I question the judgment of the officer under the vague policy of UCLA for the usage of Taser guns, the judgment that we as a society rely on to feel safe and secure.

I am a student.
I study late at night in the library.
I may forget my ID.

I am a student. Don’t Taser me!

* Two days ago, in a small town in Iran, a student got killed by the Basij (a religious semi -militia group) simply because he was talking to a young woman who later appeared to be his wife. Apparantly the respect for human life is cheap everywhere in the world!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

November's Peace Starts at Sugar Loaf !

I am back from my trip to Sugar Loaf, and yet not done with my works. My three-day trip was a joy from the beginning to the end. My first day in Sugar Loaf was the most exciting one when I discovered some paintings under the Attic of Seligmann’s house. Under the attic they kept some of his works that the Orange County Citizen Foundation considered of no value. Perhaps critics had not praised these works and that’s why they ended up under the attic. I photographed them and studied them during the next day. Before I headed back to Princeton I went around the village or more accurately the Hamlet (a small village of less than 100 residents) of Sugar Loaf. There, I discovered a tiny little Candle Shop, which was founded before 1900. They had only one kind of scented candles with Frangipani, which they liked to call: The Sugar Loaf scent.

Everyone was helpful and nice to me. Thus I started November in peacefulness of Sugar Loaf! No wonder Seligmann decided to live there.

My Breakfast at Sugar Loaf Bed and Breakfast

The Candle Shop at Sugar Loaf

Sugar Loaf Mountain*

A Private Cemetery in Seligmann’s House**

*It is actually a hill not a mountain. It gave the name of Sugar Loaf to the Hamlet beneath it !
**It is where Seligmann is buried along with the pervious owners of the house.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween !

With loads of work, it is hard to celebrate Halloween. Tomorrow I will go to Sugar Loaf. This village is hard to find on the map so it is easy to think that it has been part of Hansel & Gretel’s tale, very Halloweenian ! This Sugar Loaf is in upstate New York where I am going to visit Kurt Seligmann’s House.

Photo by Marianne Brandt

Adolf the Superman: Swallows Gold & Spouts Junk, Heartfeild, 1932

Jealousy, Moholy-Nagy, 1927

The reminder for these images was a symposium in Zimmerli Art Museum in Rutgers University, where I attended last Saturday; Detours of Technology: Insights into the Hungarian and Weimar German Oeuvres of Laszlo Moholy-Nagy. The same exhibition was up in the Graduate Center Art Gallery last spring. I have seen these Photmontages in a course I took last year. I don't get tired of looking at them. They have this personal story behind them and at the same time they are not biography of their creators but biography of the period in which they have been created.

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Sensuous In Art

Yesterday was the beginning of a series of talks called The Sensuous in Art at IAS in Princeton. Professor Ann Wagner presented her talk on Behaving Globally. It was a very interesting talk and the audience raised many questions, which is a sign of a good talk. While Wagner was talking on Candice Breitz’s Video Art, Queen (A Portrait of Madonna) 2005 and the role, which Pop art plays on global behavior and the influences of this globalization on Fan-Idol relation, I kept thinking about the differences and similarities between Breitz’s piece and the American Idol.

I thought both of these works have some global characteristics: while Breitz put together 30 people from all around the world to sing a famous song of a worldly known pop artist, for example Madonna or Michael Jackson, American Idol, is searching for a new star and people all around the glob (not only in US) are watching the show on TV and even in some countries they have created their own versions of the show. But a bigger difference is that one of these two samples is a Video Art and the other is a Television Series. One should choose to go to the museum and see the Breitz’s piece by accepting that this is a work of ART and at the same time one is always exposed to the mass media productions like the American Idol. Then we should keep in mind that a Global subject/object is different from a Mass Produced subject/object.

The Sensuous in Art series are open to public and I think it is worth going to, even if you are not doing Art History.

Queen (A Portrait of Madonna), Candice Breitz, 2005

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Rain !

It has been raining like hell today. I had to spend around one hour to find my boots, which I don’t know why I kept in the last box in our storage. Afterwards I studied until 9 PM in the art library. I didn’t work the whole time on my paper since I found more interesting stuff other than what I was looking for in the Rare Books Section. Like this phrase that I have found in an article by Harold Rosenberg in the View magazine vol. 2 from 1942. He quotes Coleridge: “You do not believe; you only believe that you believe.” It made me read the whole volume.

I hope for a sunny tomorrow!

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Inspiring Weekend

Today is an inspiring day due to the weather. I had three emails confirming the good weather from three different locations: My advisor from New York started her email by “Hello on this beautiful Monday morning…”, a friend from Baltimore wrote: “ It’s a beautiful day today…” and my cousin from Vancouver reported: “ God! Isn’t this weather beautiful…” So I thought I ought to add Princeton.

Last week on Friday I went to NYU for the Border Zones symposium. It was on Art History in an Age of Visual Culture, a very exciting subject especially when speakers covered problematic issues in Art History from the Fourteenth century to the Postcolonial era. What I liked the most was the Nicholas Mirzoeff approach toward the visual culture. His book “Watching Babylon: the War in Iraq and Global Visual Culture” points out a bunch of problematic issues such as the fears of experiencing war against Iraq by watching television and How much we do trust the Media!

On Saturday I had a chance to take a quick look at an exhibition in Whitney museum: Picasso and American Art. I was overwhelmed to see how Picasso’s works, in particular, has influenced the American art and how under this influence American art went to a new direction.

And on Sunday we went to the MacCarter Theater Center in Princeton to see a play written by Brian Friel in 1979 called Translations which was directed by Garry Hynes. The story happens at a Hedge school in Ireland around 1833 when people were still speaking Irish. It was a fine play and we ended up having a great weekend.

Organization, Arshile Gorky, 1933-36

The Studio, Picasso, 1927-28

* By the way: Happy Columbus Day !

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Gish Prize

Shirin Neshat an Iranian-born artist has won the 2006 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize. Gish Prize is one of the most important awards in arts (Visual or Dramatic arts). Neshat first become famous for her series of photographs called “Women of Allah” which were exhibited around the world over and over. Most of her works present the impact of fait and its effect on women in Muslim World. Ingmar Bergman and Peter Sellars are among other artists who won Gish Prize.

I think Her attitude towards women is more of a reflection of a presentation. That’s why I think her images are beautiful but not engaging enough and the women in her photos are the idea of a Muslim woman and nothing more. On that base I like Mona Hatoum’s approach toward gender/women issues (in Islamic societies) more than Neshat’s presentation of them.

Logic of the Brids, Shirin Neshat, 2001, Performance Art

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The First Squash Lesson !

Today I had my first Squash lesson. Although it is hard to play I enjoyed it a lot. The funniest thing is the ball. It is what I call the Dead Ball, simply because it does not bounce back. Actually the game was called Squash because of its soft ball. I can easily squeeze it by my fingers, so it is squash-able and funny. We should also wear goggles that I am not quite sure if it is required everywhere. After the class I took a look at the schedule sheet for the racquet sports’ and according to the sheet (or Department of Athletics) Squash is Princeton’s favorite court game. Wow !

For a long time I knew only of eatable squashes, which my grandma grows at her backyard. They are really delicious the way she cooks them; with a dash of sugar.

Here is the grandma's backyard.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Good Morning !

I was working on my proposal all night. It is almost 7am and I just finished my six page long proposal. I love to look at the sky at this hour when the darkness has just given itself up to the morning light and I love to hear birds start making their morning noises, which I think is very different from their singing during the day.

I will be going to New York in a couple of hours but in the meantime I can have some sleep.

Good Morning!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


These are some of my summer pictures; it just took a long time for me to put them up here. More coming soon !

Ali-Qapu Palace , Interior veiw, Music room at the Sixth floor

Ali-Qapu Palace , Interior view, Fifth floor

Shah/Emam Mosque, view from Naghsh-e Jahan Squer, Safavid dynasty

Interior view of Shah/Emam Mosque

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Movies of the Month

Fall semester has begun and everything around me is working its way through the season. Red Oak trees and Black squirrels are getting used to the fall issue of Princeton city.

I saw two movies in the last two weeks. Hollywoodland (2006) directed by Allen Coulter a mystery about the ambiguous death of the first television Superman, George Reeves. The drama becomes more interesting by its powerful performances from Ben Affleck, Diane Lane and Adrien Brody.

And Little Miss Sunshine (2006) is perhaps the best movie of the year. It is Co-directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris both of them worked together before. It tells a hilarious story in a well-defined structure that reminds me of J. D. Salinger plus an extra shade of happiness. It is a must-see movie.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

From Gallery to Cathedral

I was in Washington DC this week where I visited the National Gallery of Art. I visited three exhibitions one was Bellinni, Giorgione, Titian and the Renaissance of Venetian Painting, and the other was Henri Rousseau: Jungles in Paris plus the Selections from the collection of Edward Broida. I like Titian the most, among the Venetian painters, but the most amazing thing is the Venetian’s powerful use of Colors. They all had this strange sense of color from very early 16th century.

Visiting museums and galleries becomes my usual habit in this past years so it wasn’t that unusual for me to visit the National Gallery of Art but this time I had another reason for my trip. I was to attend a speech by former president of Iran, Seyed Mohammed Khatami, in the Washington National Cathedral. His speech was on Interfaith Dialogue and the Role of Religion in Peace and he has come to the United States as the founder of the International Institute for Dialogue Among Civilizations and Cultures. What I enjoyed a lot was the cultural diversity among the audience. People who believed in peace from nonbelievers to Jews, Christians and Moslems were there. The focus of his speech was on the religious understanding of human being and as the result the sacred rights of humankind. Khatami, the former president of Iran and the only reformist president after the revolution, closed his speech by inviting the East and the West to work together in order to create a world of peace, morality, ethics and progress for all humankind. The whole evening was like a religious experience since it took place in the sixth greatest cathedral in the world and the speaker was a Man of the Cloth.

Gypsy Madonna, Titian, 1512

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Dada Exhibition at MOMA

August has ended and September has come. I haven’t had any problem with my registration this semester. Perhaps I should say I haven’t had any problem “yet”; but I try to be more hopeful.

Let’s start with a Dada exhibition at MOMA. It is up on the sixth floor and runs through September 11th. So there is not much time if you want to check it out. I was there last week and I really liked it. After the National Gallery of Art, MOMA is the first museum in the U.S. to concentrate exclusively on Dada. There are works of more than fifty avant-garde artists. Among them I liked the best Le Petit Désert (The Little Desert, 1920) a drawing by George Ribemont-Dessgaignes; it points out the importance of chance and accident in life by showing a set of Domino Bones. I liked also the Entr’acte (1924) a Dada film by Rene Clair.

I recently saw Grizzly Man (2005) a documentary by Werner Herzog about Timothy Treadwell and Amie Huguenard, grizzly bear activists who were killed by a bear in October 2003 in one of their annual trips to Alaska. The accident was a tragic one but what interests me is Herzog’s choice to make a documentary about this and his opinion about Timothy. Timothy Treadwell taped almost all of his trips to Alaska in order to educate the public about the grizzly bears and their inhabitance. His eye-catching shots are basically the whole film. Herzog thinks of Timothy not only as an environmental activist but also and more importantly he sees him as a filmmaker.

I also saw The Illusionist (2006) directed by Neil Burger and I also saw The Devil Wears Prada (2006) directed by David Frankel because I had read the book by Lauren Weisberger. I didn’t like them much but summer movies are usually like this.

Melekler Kahvesi, Summer 2006, A Coffee Shop in Istanbul
where we had our fortune told while playing Dominos.
Very Dada-ish indeed.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Summer In Transit

I spent most of my summer in airport transit areas in New York, Istanbul, Tehran and Esfahan. Transit salons are the saddest areas in the world. They are packed with people waiting to get out of there as soon as possible, full of kids getting kicked by grown-ups out of their imaginations and overflow by security to make you feel insecure about the most innocent desire in the universe: I want to see my MOM.

Besides getting together with families and friends in this past two months, I finished shooting a Documentary about the factory workers which is waiting for its editing and I finished knitting a Hat for myself which is waiting for its wintry weather.

Madonna & Child, by Portuguese Artists ?, Ali-Qapu Palace*, Esfahan, Safavid dynasty

Leili & Majnoon, Reza Abbassi, Ali-Qapu Palace, Esfahan, Safavid dynasty

Announciation, Vank Cathedral, Esfahan, Early Safavid dynasty

* Ali-Qapu means The Sublime Gate which is a turkish word.

Saturday, July 22, 2006


Alighapou, Naghshe Jahan Sq. Esfahan, Summer 2006

Walnut Tree, Chadegan, Near Zayande-Rood Dam, Summer 2006

Stained Glass and Mirrored Ceiling, Esfahan, Summer 2006

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

World Cup Continued

When I think of a movement in History especially in Art History I often think of a key character, a person who changed the past to a newer past, one who is not necessarily the most famous person in that movement but is important and without whom that movement would never have existed. Unfairly I never choose a famous person. My mom says it is because I hate to see someone other than myself being famous. Perhaps it is true. I don’t know why; maybe because I know I won’t be worldly known in my life time or even after my life but I think it is at least possible for me to be important. So I chose people who are in some kind of a shadow. My key characters are painters, writers, artists and thinkers who are secondary to the rest of the world. Although most of the time the facts point out to me that neither I am important nor are my chosen key characters.

I was following England’s team in the World Cup and now they are eliminated.

Garry Lineker, England soccer alum and current sports anchor, once said "Football is a simple game; 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans win."

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Hafte Tir Square

Iran lost her second game to Portugal, which sadly means that Iran is not going up to the next round. But the sad news does not stop in the soccer field; I have heard that some of the people who got arrested in women’s protest in Tehran are not freed yet after almost a week, which is not a good sign. One of them is a former parliament’s member. It was the second year in the row that people got together in the Hafte Tir Square to protest against the sexual discrimination (against women) in Iran’s legal system. These peaceful protests always become violent by the interference of police forces and a militia related to a specific group of Islamic fundamentalists.

Although the constant violation of the speech right and political freedom in Iran by the government is not news, what makes it nostalgic, for me, is that Hafte Tir Square is two blocks North of my former school. I passed this square for four years, while I was an undergrad student. I passed it through traffic jams in the polluted capital city of my country, with a hope that undergrads usually have, the hope to change the world to a better place.

Hafte Tir is a grand square in the Middle East of Tehran. I measured its pavements by my Kickers’ sneakers. I broke the law for the first time there while passing a stop sign and I got my first ticket for illegal parking there. I passed Hafte Tir Square for four years hand in hand with my lovers, my friends, and my hopes. I passed Hafte Tir Square every time with a hope: the hope to change the world to a better place.

The Devil's Hand, August Rodin, 1902

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Magic of the Week

In the first week of the World Cup today Croatia lost to Brazil. I have a headache and I don’t know whether it is because of Iran’s failure against Mexico last Sunday or because of me not getting enough sleep these days.

But always there is some good news that works like the magical Advil for my headaches and today the good news came in the form of a newborn girl. Our friends’ first child was born yesterday. Congratulations!

Friday, June 09, 2006

FIFA World Cup - Germany 2006

These days everyone around me in Princeton impatiently talks about the World Cup 2006. I hear how students enthusiastically predict the game results and argue about their favorite teams. Since they are mostly international students their favorite team is usually their country team. The most common problem for soccer fans is that here these games do not get broadcasted on air but one way or another the soccer fans find a solution. Iran has its third appearance in the world cup.

The last two weeks I heard-read the Black Notice by Patricia Cornwell performed by CJ Critt, the BBC performance of the Hichhikers' Guide to the Galexy by Douglas Adams which is a cool and funy performance and The Cat Who Went Up the Creek by Lilian Jackson Braun which is a teens mystery book but I enjoyed it nontheless. From this week (and I think for the next month) I will be into Karamazov Brothers.

On Tuesday I saw Thank You for Smoking (2005) directed by Jason Reitman based on a book by Christopher Buckley. Over all it was a good film. I just didn’t like the semi-happy ending. But now I like to read the book to see how much Hollywood style of thinking has affected the movie.

Friday, June 02, 2006


June has started once again and like always it is hot and humid. Last year for the June session of our book club we chose to read Three Junes by Julia Glass. After we moved to Princeton I found three book clubs but none of them was suitable to my schedule. One of them meets at lunch time every week which is too often but they are professional book readers. The other one meets once a month on Wednesdays which is a problem since I have to go to New York on Wednesdays. The last one is nice: they meet once every couple of months and they invite a writer; so it is a kind of literature party.

For about six months now I have become my own book club: a group of One. I still receive e-mails form my pervious book club in New Haven. Sometimes I choose from their list, but most of the time I decide alone. Being alone is not that bad since I never read books that bore me. Still I think in long term it is not that good because unintentionally or maybe intentionally I block certain books, ideas and styles which ends up making me narrow minded at least in literature.

Recently I finished Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner. I will read White Teeth by Zadie Smith in June. Here I won’t say anything about audio books since it is another story.

Finally, yesterday I saw the most argumentative movie of this month: The Da Vinci Code (2006) directed by Ron Howard based on a novel by Dan Brown. There are a few examples in the history of cinema that the adaptation from a book for a film is independently a piece of art. One of the rare examples is One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest a book by Ken Kesey (1963) and its film Directed by Milos Forman (1975). The Da Vinci Code does not add to those few great examples. That’s why I think one who has not read the book will enjoy it more. I didn’t find the book, itself, that great to read for the second time either. The story is a one shot mystery: it is only interesting when you don't know the answer, to hear it for the seconed time is not exciting any more. So why we should expect it to be different for the film.

Madonna of the Rocks is one of my favorite paintings by Da Vinci. They mention it in the movie and the book very quickly. So here it is: just look behind the rocks; it has Aerial Perspective which was used greatly by da Vinci. It is really calming.

Madonna of the Rocks or Virgin of the Rocks, Leonardo da Vinci, 1508

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Over Our Hedge

During my 4-day vacation in New Haven which I spent with my lovely friends last week I saw Over the Hedge (2006) directed by Tim Johnson and Karey Kirkpatrick. It was the best animation I have seen in the last two years. Like other animation movies it spreads a moral message: the values of family life; but it does not stop there. The story is original and it is very well done. In addition to the interesting story the voices of Bruce Willis (RJ) Garry Shandling (Verne) Steve Carell (Hammy) William Shatner (Ozzi) Wanda Sykes (Stella)… and my favorite Omid Djalili (Tiger- a Persian Cat) make it more exciting.

You should see Over the Hedge especially if you are living on the other side of the hedge like us. A week ago after midnight my adorable husband discovered this Gigantic Raccoon eating garbage from the garbage can in front of our apartment. It is a pity that our neighbors don’t bother to close the lid and believe me there is enough sign around it to inform them that they should do this. I took pictures of the raccoon and decided to call him/her GR: the Gigantic Raccoon.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Spanish Wine

Yesterday I handed in my paper. Next week, as the last day of our class we will have a party. While eating and drinking, we will discuss each other’s papers once more, but more politely this time. I love these parties.

Along with the course material, each semester in the first day of the class, professor L. explains to us that we will have a party for our last class and every one in the class has to bring something for it. Believe it or not, it is part of our class assignments. Like our paper topics we have to decide what we are going to bring, ahead of time. Professor L. usually offers to bring a bottle of wine, and then we get to chose from what is left: vegetables, chips, salsa, cookies, paper plates, cheese and chocolate. Last year, I brought veggies, but this year due to the increasing number of wine lovers I will bring the second bottle of wine.

I saw two funny French comedies last week: Pas Sur La Bouche (Not on the Lips-2003) a musical comedy directed, interestingly and unexpectedly by Alain Resnais, and Milou en Mai (May Fools-1990) directed by Louis Malle. Both films elevated my taste in wine but not in a French way. So I guess I will get a Spanish wine for the party.

Last but not least the artists of Plan B are going to sue or have already sued both Brooklyn College and the Memorial Park. The Art Department supports them, but of course the College does not any more.

Glass and Bottle of Suze, Publo Picasso, 1912

* Suze is not Spanish, but Picasso is.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Art Against Censorship at Brooklyn !

Plan B is Brooklyn College’s MFA Theses Exhibition from May 3rd to May 25th. Art pieces, sculptures and paintings are works done by students: Carla Aspenberg, Jill Auckenthaler, John Avelluto, Zoe Cohen, David Davron, Susan C. Dessel, Carl James Ferrero, Carrie Fucile, Pamela Gordon, Yejin Jun, Diane Kosup, Marni Kotak, Augosto Marin, Akiko Mori, Christopher Moss, Sara Phillips, Megan Piontkowski, Tamas Veszi.

Couple of days a go I heard that the MFA Exhibition in Brooklyn College , Plan B, which had an extremely successful opening on Wednesday night was shut down yesterday by the Parks Department (who administers the Brooklyn War Memorial space) due to complaints about the sexual content of some work in the exhibition. On Friday the Brooklyn College lawyers have taken the case! It is now a total legal, first amendment issue, and the school is entirely behind the students. The [Parks] commissioner will not compromise, but what he is doing is totally illegal. The MFA students organized a protest rally on Saturday on the steps of the Brooklyn War Memorial in Cadman Plaza, Brooklyn*.

It is happening once more in Brooklyn, once more censorship. It is a sad reminder of Chris Ofili’s “Black Madonna” and the Rudolph Guiliani’s reaction to the work which was shown at the time in the Brooklyn Museum.

This kind of reaction toward art is expected by the viewers; sometimes the artist intentionally wants his/her work to be offensive. One can get upset by a work of art and can oppose it in a peaceful way of course. But when the authorities, in this case Park Commissioner, allow themselves to abuse or misuse their power in favor of their certain believes it is not a matter of people’s reaction anymore. It is just sad; sad when it happens so often recently: Morality overcoming Freedom. And it is always sad when you don’t give the same opportunity to every one. For instance there are thousands of religious painting in museums today, one who dislikes them can simply goes to other galleries. The same should be the case for those who dislike, say, nudity or abstract arts. They can directly go to the Byzantine section to get elevated and bored at the same time.

*You can find more here.

Chris Ofili, Black Madonna