Sunday, December 21, 2008

Reports of My Habitual Life:

A delayed Happy Yalda!

Last night we got together, like every other year to celebrate the longest night of the year. I baked Pomegranate Cake,which surprisingly turned out delicious -hopefully its recipe will soon appear in Tameshk in Kitchen.

It is more than a month now that Zeitoon is with us. He is a ginger 4-year-old male cat adopted from San Marcos street in Austin. In a way the adoption was mutual; he came to get food every day and he slept at the door every night for 2 months. Finally in a cold night at 2AM, in order for him to come in and survive the cold he was taken to the Vet for check up. And ever since he has become a regular part of my days. Besides Zeitoon there is not much to report.

The semester is officially over at UT Austin; One of the busiest semesters I have had so far. I really am looking forward to the next semester with courses more related to my area, modern and contemporary art. During the break I am looking forward to reading a couple of books I've postponed for so long. Also I will try to update Tameshk Film Club and write more on my movie adventures.

Best wishes for the season and Happy Holidays!

Blue Dahlia Bistro, Austin, Fall 2008

Saturday, December 20, 2008

No Cure!

Missing you
Is harder than missing the foam on my cappuccino cup,
Grimmer than missing sun rising on the daybreak,
Sadder than missing the bus in the blizzard of heat and mosquito,

If I order another cappuccino,
If I wake up earlier the next morning,
If I wait for another bus to come,
If I magically find a cure for all my wistful wishes,
For all that is gone and is missed;

Still missing you has no cure,
No cure,
Neither magic nor Logic!

You cannot be ordered like cappuccino, ‘single shot with extra foam’!
You are not timed like dawn,
You are not catchable like bus,

Missing you has no cure,
But, You!

*Sankofa mural by Regi Thomas (details); In the park side of the dual mural, Rhapsody & Sankofa by the artists Yancey and Thomas, in Austin.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Egungun: Diaspora Recycling

Egungun: Diaspora Recycling
An Art Exposition & Border Crossings

The exhibition will be on view until April 2009, in the Fine Arts Library, UT at Austin. The exhibition combines works of contemporary Nigerian/American artists with the traditional Egungun ensembles: The hours of the exhibition follow the library hours and it is free. The exhibition is curated by Moyo Okediji, whose works are on display as well.

If you want to know what is an Egungun Masquerade, a short description would be: Egungun society members in Yorubaland, Nigeria, honor the deceased ancestors with annual masquerade performances. The most widespread masquerade is the Egungun. These masquerades vary regionally; Egungun is a multimedia performance, which includes music, dancing, singing. the singing usually is narrative. The dancer (the masker), who is covered with the cloth (preferably called ensemble) dances and sings throughout the performance. The masker is not considered an actor, but rather the receiver of the returning ancestral spirit; the spirit takes possession of the masker. So interestingly the mask conceals and reveals at the same time: It conceals the dancer, the person, the individual and it reveals the divine spirit of ancestors. The community members seek the protection and aid of their ancestors through the performance.

Although people were happy with my gallery talk, I was not that happy with it; I don't know how much of the talk that I had prepared, was communicated with the audience; I was nervous and I didn't follow the order I planned for the talk! This is the invitation poster for the opening, which was on Friday.

Egungun: Diaspora Recycling; An Art Exposition & Border Crossings

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Art Reports on Thanksgiving!

There are many things to write about, but my schoolwork has got most of my time; I hope to get them done by next week and get back to a normal pace in my life. The Egungun: Diaspora Recycling, An Art Exposition of Transformation & Border Crossings exhibition is going well; the labels are almost done and the posters were printed and distributed in all libraries in the University of Texas at Austin. The installation will be on December 2nd and the opening will be on December 5th. I hope to write more about the exhibition. I will put the exhibition’s poster up here on my next post: It is an enigmatic poster and I like you to see it.

In case you are wondering what else I am working on: I am thinking a lot about the notion of Avant-garde lately. I am working on a paper about surrealist magazines in 40’s in New York and the issue of Avant-garde comes up a lot. I will explain more later; Avant-garde is interesting enough to keep me wondering for most part of this semester. Of course, looking at Avant-garde in Cinema (what I did a lot in my undergrad years) compare to Avant-garde in Fine Arts is different in many ways but at the same time it has significant similarities, which is hard to dismiss.

Any way it is that time of year again, so: Happy Thanksgiving!

A Colorful Day, Hearst Castle, San Simeon CA, Fall 2008

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Particles of Dust

I thought I saw you in my dream:
I dreamt of dreaming about you.

It was all in my vacant imagination,
An empty pot of dreams of dreams,
Like particles of dust on an old feather duster !

Both dust and feather duster are there,
In the Britannica Encyclopedia,
Everything is there in that encyclopedia, but my dreams!

My dreams are particles of dust on an old feather duster
They fly away every time there is motion in the air of my mind
Every time you come closer!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

More on DAM

DAM; Denver Art Museum:

It has been two weeks since my trip to Denver. The core of this trip was my visit to the African Art gallery in Denver Art Museum.*

The inspiration behind this trip was an exhibition we are putting together at the end of this semester, for a course taught by Professor Moyo Okediji, called Museums and African Art: Case of Egungun Masquerade.** Since the exhibition covers both contemporary and historic art pieces, I decided to visit the Denver Art Museum, which not only has one of the richest galleries of African Art (historic) but also it covers a wide range of contemporary art by African and African American artists.

Before coming to UT at Austin, Moyo Okediji was a professor of visual arts at the University of Colorado at Denver and assistant curator of African, African American, and Oceanic arts at the Denver Art Museum. In his class we explore different accounts of the Western approaches towards the study of African Art and the display of African art in museums. The great part of the problem in the study of African Art is embedded in the underlying arrogance as well as ignorance of Western historians, art historians and anthropologists towards cultures unknown to them.***

The exhibition is called Egungun: Diaspora Recycling, An Art Exposition of Transformation & Border Crossings. The exhibition will be on view in the Fine Arts Library at University of Texas at Austin. I will post more information about this exhibition as soon as the formal invitation is out.

Denver Art Museum, Hamilton Building, Daniel Libeskind,
Photo date October 2008

Untitled (Atlas), Fred Wilson, 1992, Denver Art Museum

Detail, Fred Wilson 1992 work, photo date October 2008

* General admission for the Denver Art Museum is $13 for adults,$3 for youth (6 –18) – made me feel Old –, it is free for kids under 6, and the student ticket costs $8.

** Egungun Masquerade is on of many forms of masquerade performances in Yoruba land.

*** The label of “African Art” that is presented, as a unified entity here is also an issue: unfortunately we rarely distinguish the Art of Africa by the name of its country, like Nigerian art, etc.

PS. Esha Momeni was released. Read more on For Esha.

Monday, October 27, 2008

In Denver

This is the last day of my short trip to Denver, Colorado, the Mile-High City. The weather is crispy cold and the sky is broad. I figured, I always assess the sky of different cities I visit. It gives me a feeling about the city. And I disagree with the famous Iranian phrase that says, the sky is the same everywhere you go! No it is not: Boston has an open sky, New York doesn't have any at all, and Denver has a broad one.

Although my trip was work related, I really needed it. I guess I needed another blue window. Soon I will write about the African gallery in Denver Art Museum, which was the goal of my visit. For now I just wanted to share my Autumn photo with you. Needless to say it is my favorite season, the most expressive one and I also have some narcissistic reasons to love it above the other three.

Autumn Leaves, Denver, October 2008

PS. More about Esha Momeni on BBC Persian.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

For Esha; Free Esha!

or this post, I wanted to write about some new Art History lectures and some exciting exhibitions; but I was called by my Iranian destiny to report on something more important than Art, and that is Life.

Esha Momeni, was arrested 8 days ago on October 15th in Tehran; after her arrest she was transferred to the Section 209, Evin Prison. Her charges are not known.
Esha, a women’s rights advocate and a volunteer for the One Million Signatures Campaign, is a graduate student in Arts and Communication Department of CSUN. She was in Iran to visit her family and to complete her field research for her Master’s degree. This post is for Esha: These are the memories of the first time we met; the memories I am anxiously looking forward to building-up on when I see her again.

We only shared a couple of glances in the morning and during the talk. At noon, for lunch break, Leva introduced me to her: She was Esha and I was Roja.

Her curly hair was tucked back from her broad forehead and formed a mass of fiery orange on her back. We walked to the nearest exit and found our way to a small lunch place in Bancroft Street.

She asked me if I studied Art back home, and the answer was yes: She studied Art as well and here she was a Communication and Arts student. I admired her camera; she looked tired. I got a salad and tea, she got a large blend of carrot and orange juice and while we talked she kept offering me to have a sip of her fruit juice and I refused! I only wished I hadn’t refused her offer. I am so devastated to think maybe if I had accepted to have a sip, somehow Esha would have been free; now I think, perhaps out of desperation, that if I had a different talk with her that day Esha was far away from the section 209 and Evin Prison. I am rebuilding our first three days, only wishing she comes back soon.

That night I was tired and I returned to the hotel early. I saw her the second day and I was too busy with my translations and she was busy with other things we didn’t talk much.

The last night of the conference, after the banquet when we shared a ride I just started to know her. It was short, her voiced was broken; earlier that night she had asked me who I have in Khavaran; I hadn’t answered; I gave a vague and cold answer. I did not know her to tell her: You see, it is not like you can walk around and say it out loud. I never talked about it, even with my closest friends; it is something they never ask and I usually don’t feel like telling. His name comes up, and his jokes and his green eyes and his pictures are everywhere in my room. But I never talk about it with strangers. Stranger, Esha wasn’t!

That night in the car she let me know with a broken voice, that she is not a stranger; she too lost someone in those dreadful years.

For Esha, San Francisco, October 2007

Free Esha Momeni!

More News on Esha Momeni's Arrest:

For Esha: A blog that posts interviews and updates about Esha's situation. (click on English)
CSUN University News Clippings

OMCT SOS-Torture Net Work
Middle East Times
One Million Signature Campaign

PS. I will put new links regarding Esha's situation here:

AFP: Women's rights activist arrested in Iran

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Art Journals and Magazines: in the East !

It is raining cats and dogs; tomorrow will be the same! I wrapped my shawl tight around me, studying in the Fine Arts Library.

I am working on my final project for the Art Journals and Magazines class, View (published from 1940 to 1947). I really like this class; our readings are on basic notions of Culture, Hegemony, Intellectual, Institutions and Formations. We study arts and literary magazines as cultural and intellectual productions mostly through our readings of Sartre, Gramsci, Bourdieu, Williams, and others who build up on Marxism Cultural theories.

What is fascinating is to see the role of Marxism in the development of intellectual properties (here, as magazines) not only in the West but also in the East; the contribution of Marxist ideas in the modern literature of Iran is indisputable. The Huge number of publications – translations and original works, critical and creative writings – in Iran (like other parts of the world) for many decades were touched deeply by leftist ideas. To study how intellectuals, artists and writers reacted to these ideas, whether agreeing or criticizing is very interesting! I really like to make a comparative study between Iranian arts and literature journals and Iran’s neighboring countries like Turkey! It will be exciting to see the result!

It is still raining hard; my Shawl is not enough to keep me warm anymore, I need a cup of hot tea.

Bukhara Magazine Cover, No.57, 2006
Bahram Bayzai photo on the cover

Friday, October 10, 2008

Ardeshir Mohassess Passed Away!

When the words dry up in the mouth,
And the lines don't have anywhere to go;
The memory starts
And there,
Art remains!

Ardeshir Mohassess passed away on October 9th 2008 in New York; I cannot believe it! The news is still not on any news websites: I have heard it from Khorshid on Twitter; she provided me this link . I also found the news in one sentence on by Saman. I am still not sure if it is true! It is just too shocking. My article about his last solo exhibition at Asia Society Museum in NYC was published in Peyk number 116; I am shocked! He was very sick, but I cannot believe this.

The royal court’s greatest painter accomplishing the most important assignment among his artistic activities
1977, Ink on Paper, (45.7 x 60 cm),
Library of Congress, Prints and Photography Division
by Ardeshir Mohassess

Monday, October 06, 2008

Arts Roundup

I have to renew my CAA membership: I keep forgetting it: I shouldn’t postpone it any more!

Also I became a member of Austin Film Society, which reminds me of my undergrad years and the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art’s Cinematheque. The AFS film screenings and programs are very organized and rich. Since I am relatively new, so far I could only catch up with The Third Wave: Contemporary German Cinema part of the Essential Cinema screenings. The Farewell (Abschied - Brechts Letzter Sommer, 2000) directed by Jan Schütte was my favorite of the series so far. Use the link to find the info on the films.

And finally Reimagining Space: The Park Place Gallery Group in 1960s New York is an exciting exhibition in the Blanton Museum of Art. The exhibition focuses on the Park Place Gallery, and the works of 10 artists who started this gallery in 1960s. The exhibition displays works of the five painters and the five sculptors of The Park Place Gallery from 1963 to 1967. The space that is created by the works of these artists is amazing; the title Re-Imagining Space really suits this exhibition. New York's art world in the 60s was under undeniable influence by the the Park Place Gallery and the art that was created by its artists: This must-see exhibition will be on view up to January 18th 2009.

Untitled, Tamara Melcher, 1965
Collection of Forrest Myers, Brooklyn, NY

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

A Crescent on My Forehead

A Crescent on My Forehead: Not A Tale!

Today they ban them from driving on the streets
You won’t say anything; it has not happened to you
It happened to them!

Tomorrow they order them to put a mark on their forehead
This time the mark will not be that painful yellow star
This time it will be a cold shining crescent on the their forehead,
Just so, the possibility of remembering won’t disturb You!

You will be silent again and a bit upset;
You just don’t know why you are upset!

Then they quietly put them in concentration camps!
Quietly, So, It does not remind you, by mistake of course,
Of the Executive Order 9066 and what came after.
So, You won’t say anything!
You are not even upset: It did not happen to you.
It happened to them!

After all what happened in the past is History!
It does not concern You,
Because you have a short memory for things that does not happen to you,
They skip your memory!

So don’t you dare ask me if I want to have kids!
Don’t dare!
Let it be another thing that skips your memory
My kid needs those who don’t forget History!

You can forget, but I am Them
I have to remember, to survive it;
I have to;
I am a Post-nine-11 Middle Easterner
I have a crescent on my forehead like Maah Pishooni*
The fortunate girl of Persian folktales
Just not as fortunate,
Not as Persian,
And more so
Not A Tale!

Artist and His Mother, Arshile Gorky, 1926
Based on a real photograph

* Maah Pishooni
translates for (Moon- on Forehead) is a Persain Folktale: it also refers to someone who is fortunate!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Movie Buzz: Tameshk Film Club (2)

Tameshk Interactive Film Club (2): (September - October 2008)

Sorry for the gap between the film club sessions, hopefully it won't happen again. I will post the films both here, on Tameshk, and on the Facebook. You can find Tameshk Film Club (1) here.

Let's start:

Animation and Documentary:
Remember we switch between documentary and animation and It is documentary time: The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara (2003) directed by Errol Morris. Morris is my favorite contemporary documentary film director: His documentaries are based on interviews, where the presence of the interviewer/filmmaker is not dominant; I like him because he counts on the intelligence of the audience and expects them to be intelligent; he presents an interview to the viewer as the raw material hiding his own views and judgment behind his smart camera shots, bold compositions of his frames and sudden cuts in editing. In Morris' style, the judgment is yours to make. If you have seen The Fog of War check out The Thin Blue Line (1988) another award wining documentary by Errol Morris. This last one is a Must See for those of us living in Texas.

Recent films (from 2006 to present): I will put two films in this category, just to make sure everyone gets to see something which hasn't seen before and also to cover up for my own delay: Mongol (2007) directed by Sergei Bodrov (suggested by Daisy), I really like us to discuss this film, and Once (2006) by John Carney (suggested by Roya). I think Mongol and Once both have a sense of documentary in them; I will explain in our discussion.

Cinema History and Film Genre: I hope you all got to see Tretya meshchanskaya (Bed and Sofa, 1927) directed by Abram Room, which is an excellent example of Russian cinema specially in its ending; this grotesque reality in finishing the story is so common in Russian dramatic arts that can be easily called Russian ending. Being in the documentary mood for this month I have chosen the 1929 documentary film by Dziga Vertov, Man with a Movie Camera. Vertov is the father of Kino-Pravda which can be translated to Cinema-Truth. Vertov believed that the camera is the most reliable recorder of the reality of out time; the reality that is the closets to the truth. Vertov’s aesthetic views had lots of influence on the French avant-garde cinema and namely Jean-Luc Godard. I really hope you watch The Man with a Moving Camera; it is available on Netflix. Soon we will get to one of the first movements in cinema history: German Expressionism (1920s and 30s).

Miscellaneous & Suggested Film: Well I personally didn’t enjoy our previous film in this category – Daddy Long Legs (1955). I thought it had too much unrelated dancing, even for a musical. I will put two films in this category as well: One is N.J.’s tempting suggestion Dead Man Walking (1995) directed by Tim Robbins, starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn. The other is the three times Oscar winner film, Roman Holiday (1953) directed by William Wyler also suggested by Daisy; it is a romantic comedy with Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn.

Man with a Moving Camera, Dziga Vertov, (1929)
Original film poster

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Art History Lecture Series: Dr. James Cuno

Just got my locker and carrel at the Fine Arts Library; ate the rest of my morning bagel and cheese for lunch and before getting back to my readings I thought of some blogging:

There is a lecture at 6pm at Avaya Auditorium at UT by James Cuno, the director of Art Institute of Chicago. It is a public lecture, so if you are around, come; it will be very interesting. The lecture is about the concerns regarding museums' role as cultural institutes: "Museums are repositories of our common artistic legacy as human beings. As such, they can serve as a force for understanding, tolerance, and the dissolution of ignorance and superstition about the world."

I am also preparing for a presentation assignment on The Tiger’s Eye, an art and literature magazine published from 1947 to 1949 in US. It was founded and published by poet, Ruth Stephan and her painter husband, John Stephan. The title was chosen by Ruth, motivated by “The Tyger” (1794), a poem by William Blake (1757 - 1827) an English poet and painter.

The opening verses of The Tyger:

"Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?"

The Tyger, William Blake, 1794

PS. I am behind on updating Tameshk Film Club, it was partly because of our move and partly because of my laziness; I hope to get to it soon.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Significant and Insignificant in Austin

Austin is hot in August; it is so hot that you would never slip on a banana skin, because it would be dry like an autumn leaf. Austin is big all year round, not only in August. Austin looks like Tehran for its highways and wide streets. It has an open sky like Tehran but it is a bit more humid than Tehran.

We finally moved to an apartment that satisfies us and our stuff just got here on Saturday. Unpacking goes very slowly because of my classes. But things are good overall, except for my books, my lovely and previously clean undamaged shiny books; they are damaged, slightly but damaged, and that was the most upsetting part of our move, even more upsetting than my dead plant (one of them died).

This reminded me that a month or two ago Roya invited me to the game of “Insignificant Sensitivities” which kept me thinking about my little sensitivities; the problem was which one is insignificant. My books are the one subject I am very sensitive about. I like to buy books and own them and their well being is very important. I don’t like them to be bent or damaged in any way. Many times I make paper covers for them to keep them safe and shiny. I also like them to be read by others and I consider myself very liberal when it comes to lending books. Now here, if I want to be rational I should count my book obsession as insignificant sensitivity, especially compare to my broken and damage office desk and my broken office bookcase. Right? Wrong: I am not at all upset about my damaged desk and bookcase and I can hardly control my tears when I look at my ripped and bent Harrison and Wood books. OK. That’s enough complaining for one post. Let's get to some real and more significant stuff.

I have to run to the health care center and then I have to go to the Art Department Party which is sort of a required event for new grad students. This semester I have three courses which are totally out of my comfort zone and it will be a challenge since my area of focus has always been on Euro-American Modern & Contemporary art. But it is like me; I am a challenge magnet and I have learned to survive it and even welcome it.

My classes are: Art Journals and Magazines (Chicano & Latin American Art), Museums and African Art: Case of Egungun Masquerade and The Orientalizing Phenomenon in the Greek World of the Early First Millennium. I am really excited about them.

Also in Austin there are two museums that I will visit regularly: One is the Austin Museum of Art (AMOMA) and the other is The Blanton Museum of Art, which has a new facility now.

The Blanton Museum of Art, August 2008, Austin

Sunday, August 24, 2008

East to South

If you are around New York – I am not in the East Coast anymore –there are two exhibitions worth your visit: J.M.W. Turner exhibition at Met, the largest Turner exhibition in U.S. in forty years on view until September 21st, and Polaroids: Mapplethrope at Whitney which focuses on Robert Mapplethorpe’s instant photography on view through September 14th. I cannot curse myselfe enough for not visiting Mapplethrope’s exhibition. But I visited Turner’s exhibition and wrote a review for the next issue of Peyk (#117): what was really touching in Turner’s exhibition was not only his abstract landscapes and the Sublime that turner is famous for, but also the abstraction that was created by the repetition of more than 140 works of Turner: the high number of canvas covering the walls of Tisch galleries encircled the eyes an created one huge abstract painting.

I just said I am not in the east cost anymore; we are driving our way down to the south. The more we drive south, the hotter it gets. My plants are not doing well and I am wondering whether they survive the transition; I wonder the same about us. We are in Little Rock, Arkansas, tonight; tomorrow morning I will visit Arkansas Art Center.

The Snow Storm, J.M.W. Turner, 1942

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Daily Haiku II

The narrow road ended with her flower garden;
The old lady cared for flowers,
Only to watch butterflies in the afternoon!

Pescia, Italy, Summer 2007

*You are gone, and in one of the last days, we met your old neighbor by her garden, where she sat in the afternoons, watching the many butterflies that enjoyed the tender corners of her hard work. When we complimented her flowers, she told us, she does it all for the butterflies. It took us a moment to grasp what she just said; the understanding came in a small pressure shared between our hands. That moment of understanding is what keeps me going without you.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

In New Haven: Abelardo Morell

In New Haven:

Rushing out the door to catch the train to New Haven I forgot to take my toothbrush which I had left to dry after my morning wash up. The worst was I noticed its absence later during the night. But of course, my lovely host helped me out with providing one nice blue toothbrush.

Now I am heading out with Eitan for some New Haven adventures. A week or two ago I visited Behind the Scene: The photographs of Abelardo Morell at Yale University Art Galley and I really enjoyed it. This will be my second visit. I hope Eitan like it as well; Unfortunately we are missing Eyal.

I will write about Abelardo Morell’s exhibition soon: I really enjoyed his Book Photographs. This exhibition will be on view until August 10th, 2008.

Some Updates:

The Tameshk Film Club is also accessible on Facebook: Let me know if you want me to send you an invitation.

Three Dictionaries, by Abelardo Morell, 200

Happy 200th Post !

PS. This is Tameshk's 200th post. Many bloggers celebrate the annual anniversaries of their blogs. As a former Cinema student, however I have been celebrating every hundred posts: in filmmaking when they shoot the 100th shot they have a little party.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Iranian Women's Studies Foundation: A Bridge

Long Report;
A Critical Report of The 19th international
IWSF conference:

Following my Short Report, I wrote a critical review of the 19th IWSF conference, which is now published on It is called Something Missing: a Critical Report of the 19th annual IWSF Conference. In this report I have viewed Iranian Women’s Studies Foundation (IWSF) as a bridge, a bridge between the academic Iranian women’s studies and the Iranian women’s right activists; I have tried to analyse the efforts contribted by both sides on the issues concerning Iranian women.

The 19th IWSF Conference, Berkeley, CA, July 2008

Related Links:

* The Essential Needs of the Iranian Woman Today: The 19th International Annual Conference of the Iranian Women's Studies Foundation:

* Bandari, Roja, The review of the 19th IWSF conference at WE Change. Org

*Dolatshahi, Sanam, The 19th IWSF conference: first day’s report on Radio Zamaneh

* Leva Zand’s report on Radio Zamaneh

*Fighting Back, Photo Essay by talieshah on

* Something Missing, by Roja Najafi on
. I also would like to thank Nazy Kaviani for her intuitive editing.

Friday, July 25, 2008

July Updates

My review of Ardeshir Mohassess’s exhibition was published on the English section of Peyk Newsletter, number 116. (For the pdf version check Peyk on Persian Cultural Center (PCC). Click on the English Section - No.116, July & August 2008)

And if you are around New York City please visit Ardeshir Mohassess: Art & Satire in Iran on Asia Society Museum. The exhibition is on view through July. Asia Society Museum has free admission on Fridays from 6-9 pm but unfortunately their free Friday afternoons are not active from July 4 to Labor Day.

Tameshk Film Club:
Hopefully you have seen Tameshk's June - July films; we will talk about them next week. Please send in your film suggestions for August - September. Also I am thinking about some possible online places for the film discussions: any suggestions? If you like to have live film discussions we can use Skype. Let me know.

Asia Society Museum, New York Headquarters, June 2008

Friday, July 18, 2008

A mathematician, even in his dreams!

Not for the quick kisses before we pass out in the daybreak,
Not for the short emails you used to send me or the letters I used to hide in you backpack,
Not for the wet eyes of yours when you see me crying,

Not for those,
If only for the fact that last night,
on one of your usual sleep-talkings you said out load:
486 times 312 is 151632, which reminded me you are still here,
close to me!

A Mathematician in the Futurist Gallery, MOMA, May 2008

*No, he really said that.
*Yes, he is a mathematician.
*Happy Birthday!

P.S. Khosrow Shakibai, the Iranian actor, passed away: BBC Persian

Monday, July 14, 2008

Heavy Light

Heavy Light: Recent Photography &Video From Japan

The International Center of Photography Museum (ICP) in New York is a place to stop by if you are in Manhattan. A month ago, I visited their current exhibition, Heavy Light, a joyful visual challenge that I always welcome.

The unconventional quality that has always amazed me when facing Japanese painting and cinema, once again struck my aesthetic taste when I saw these contemporary photographs. Heavy Light exhibition presents photographic artworks of thirteen photographers who are among the new generation of Japanese photographers. The exhibition is curated by Christopher Phillips and the Kyoto University of art and design professor, Noriko Fuku.

I started with the first gallery where Asako Narahashi’s works were displayed: his photographs called, Half Awake, Half Sleep in the Water, (2000-03), is a series of photos with unstable POV that gives a suspended view of the shore from the water. Walking through Narahashi series, little by little his strange point of view becomes the most natural viewpoint; to think of it, his suspended camera is in the most familiar place for a photographer native to an Island in the Pacific Ocean.

Blast by Naoya Hatakeyama is another photo series that really suits the idea of Heavy Light. A chain of snapshots of an explosion throwing a mixture of dust, stone and cement into the air, presents the eyes with the essence of the notions of heavy and light; heavy when it is glued to earth and light when it can detach itself form the gravity. The explosion (a mine explosion or an explosion for a construction) catalyzes the process of Heavy-Light-ing.

Yukio Nakagawa, one of the oldest photographers in this exhibition, is a norm-breaking Ikebana artist (the Japanese art of flower arrangement). Nakagawa’s flower photographs can be considered as haiku photography, if such a school exists in photography.

Among other photographers of this exhibition, I believe Midori Komatsubara’s photographs Sanctuary, leaves the door open for further studies. Sanctuary is a series of photos recreating 10 characters form a popular Japanese comic book called “Yaol”. Although the comic book characters are all boys, Komatsubara’s photographs are all played by girls. Komatsubara’s attempt to narrate a story, I believe has failed in contact with non-Japanese viewer.

To me the most enjoyable works, as well as the most realistic photographs of the exhibition were Hiroh Kikai’s portraits of people from northeast Tokyo. His lifelong project, from 1973 to present, in capturing daily faces of people, is so realistic that makes it impossible for the viewer to forget them; his portraits are more than people’s frontage; they are open gateways, so the viewer can pass the faces and get to know who they really are.

Heavy Light is on view until September 7th 2008. There is an $8 fee for students and the general admission is $12. The ICP Museum is closed on Mondays.

Yukio Nakagawa, Eyelashes, 1976,
Courtesy of Yukio Nakagawa Office and the Miyagi Museum of Art

Hiroh Kikai, 2002, Courtesy of the artist,
A man who tells me that he has always wanted to attract attention,
ever since he was a kid, and has always been knocked around for it

Asako Narahashi,
Half Awake and Half Asleep in the Water (Makuhari)
2001, Courtesy of the artist

Monday, July 07, 2008

Short Report:

I got my boarding pass and finally passed the security check. I had some time to get a cup of cappuccino.

Cold: I felt the warmth of the cappuccino in my hand and in my throat, both; I wanted to carry that warmth with me into the plane, into the air.

Excited: My pearl earrings dangled and tickled me while I was running to the baggage claim area.

Lost: Not so much in translation than in UC Berkeley. Late for registration, for seeing friends, for everything, not so much for getting lost but in makeup .

There: I got to the 19th International IWSF Conference.

Crunched: the land of Sunrise, Khavaran; the sun reminds me of you; here, from far away, I saw you, like I always do, and I saw the many golden hearts that are buried next to yours. It is 20 years now. And I am counting them, my heart crunched.

Paralyzed: Everyone needs a shoulder to cry on. I have a pillow.

Magic: I held a jar of Tameshk jam in my hand, heavier than steel; my body melted under its weight; I thought of your hand and the lively pulse in your eyes; a magician called friend.

Inside out: The IWSF Conference and I, August 2008

Rodin sculptures in Stanford, August 2008

Khavaran, Mothers' of Khavaran, IWSF, August 2008

It Could Be Blue, August 2008

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Boundless Knots of Her Life

In my memory
She is sitting behind the carpet loom,
Her ebony hair, untouched by age, loosened behind her back,
Weaving one by one, line after line,

The single-looping knots of her life

I remember, she saw the flowers even before they appeared on the carpet

I remember sitting next to her behind the loom
The smell of Lavender and Saffron * filled my lungs
I remember asking her to tell me a new story
One of the many stories she knew,

Her never-ending tales, like Scheherazade’s

I remember the colors changing
By the warmth of her thin fingers
They started dancing in my soporific eyes
Dancing in ruby azure, violet, green, and white …

The boundless dance of the colors, like her never-ending tales,
Is only a beginning of my memories.

Dance of Colors, Lavender and Saffron, June 2008

* Yesterday inspired by Song of Songs (Song of Solomon) I bought a bouquet of Lavender; its existence has filled my lungs ever since reminding me of Aziz, my grandmother. It is funny that small details are sometimes so persistent in staying in the memory, vivid details in colors and even more in scents. From Song of Solomon:

"You are a garden locked up, my sister, my bride;
you are a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain.
Your plants are an orchard of pomegranates
with choice fruits,
with henna and nard,
nard and saffron,
calamus and cinnamon,
with every kind of incense tree,
with myrrh and aloes
and all the finest spices.
You are [b] a garden fountain,
a well of flowing water
streaming down from Lebanon.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Movie Buzz! (June 2008)

Tameshk Interactive Film Club:

Tameshk film club contains four sections/categories each month: we will choose four films monthly, one in each category. The categories are Animation and Documentary, Recent films (from 2006 to present), Cinema History and Film Genre, Miscellaneous and Suggested Film. You can follow one section or all of them depending on your schedule. You can also jump through the movie section each month depending on your access to the films, your plans, your mood, etc. The important thing is for everyone to see at least one of the four suggested films, so everyone can contribute to the discussions. This idea of interactive film club works the best if all of us participate in it. So please do not hesitate in sending in your suggestions. For our first time I fished out some of your suggestions from your old comments. So here are our June-July Films:

Animation and Documentary: Kung Fu Panda (2008) directed by Mark Osborne and John Stevenson

Recent films (from 2006 to present): Volver directed by Pedro Almodóvar (2006) (proposed by Mersedeh)

Cinema History and Film Genre: Tretya Meshchanskaya (Bed & Sofa, 1927) directed by Abram Room is a silent Russian film. Its story was very confrontational for the Soviet Union era and I think it is still very courageous film. You can find Bed & Sofa along with Chess Fever on one DVD on Netflix. You can also watch it online on Netflix instant viewing. Bed & Sofa is a great example of interesting silent films and also a great example of Russian cinema.

Miscellaneous and Suggested Film: Daddy Long Legs (1955) directed by Jean Negulesco and based on Jean Webster's novel of 1912 (proposed by Hossein). Please note that there is a 1919 movie based on Jean Webster's novel directed by Marshall Neilan but we want the 1955 movie for now.

And here is a brief description of these four sections:

Animation and Documentary: one animation or documentary film will be suggested for this section each month. Documentary film is a category as old as cinema itself. And in general, people do not tend to watch them often; perhaps some recent popular documentaries are among the exceptions these days. So it is good to have them as part of the film club. Animations are even older than Cinema and I know there are many like me who enjoy animation pictures regardless of their age. And for those of us who have kids watching an animation cartoon can be considered a family activity.

Recent films (from 2006 to present): This category will contain both the films that has just come out on the big screen and the new films (from 2006) that we might have missed their screenings and now are available on DVD.

Cinema History and Film Genre: This category covers various genre films as well as the important films in the history of cinema. Each month we will have a short description and history about the film, its creators and its genre, movement or school. This is the closest we get to a general course in the history of cinema and although I am very excited about it I know it may be the hardest section to keep interesting for everyone. The films such as the Battleship Potemkin (1925) by Sergei Eisenstein will be in the Cinema history films part; and the films such as Ossessione (Obsession-1943) by Luchino Visconti (genre: Italian Neorealism) will be part of the film genre section. Although I will contribute mostly to this section, I will be grateful if you also give your suggestions.

Miscellaneous and Suggested Film: This part will be the most exciting category and will contain the films that cannot be put in other categories but we still like to see them. They can be recent or old, well made or not, from famous directors or newcomers, they can be Iranian films that we could not fit in the other categories or non-Iranian films from anywhere in the world.

We should keep in mind that these categories may overlap for example: Kung Fu Panda (2008) is both an animation and a newly released film. We’ll try to work around these overlaps and in a way take advantage of them so they don’t limit our choices .

Charlie Chaplin on a wall in Boston

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Travel The Silk Road

My Summer @ Princeton Public Library:

On Saturday June 14th at Princeton public library I have a one hour program about the Silk Road for kids (age 6-10). Travel the Silk Road is a craft program concentrating on Silk and Spices . I gave the proposal to the children section of Princeton public library* last September. My interest in the Silk Road got stronger ever since I was a TA for an art history course covering the cultural exchanges along this longest trade route in the history; by modern means of traveling the Silk Routes are still active today. The Silk Road expanded over 8,000 km (5,000 miles) on land and sea and is active in both directions from the East to the West and vice versa.

These are the two collage samples for the program. While making these, Roya reminded me of a childhood memory shared with all of us who grew up in Iran; the memories of the 5 o'clock children's program, where they showed over a dozen drawings done by children under 14: each day, making everyone of us kids wait before the main program begin. Such a long wait and such a boring idea, but it was during the war and the TV producers filled their one hour children's program showing these drawings. We, on the receivers' side of the IRI TV, would hear the kids' names, their ages and their hometowns while looking at the often pale drawings on the screen: Maryam, 4 years old from Yazd; Ahmad 7 from Rasht ... In the same manner, these are works by Roya (n) years old from Shiraz and Roja (n-1)**, from Tehran.

Fabric & Spices Collage, Craft Samples for children's program, June 2008

* Check out other Events for Children at Princeton Public Library here.
**(assume n<14)

Friday, June 06, 2008

To Fetch A Crystal Ball!

She was running; hiding her face behind raindrops
It was like a glass shield but stranger.
It was cold and her eyes ached for trying so hard to see
To see into the night
To see over the shadows
To see the next step

Her breath could not match her heartbeat;
She had lost something while running in the rain
But it was hard to think of it now, so she ran faster
She felt her heart stopped,
Stopped for a second.

She ran to the room hiding,
From everyone and everything although there was no one there
She still felt threatened by things,
Their presence and their shadows

She hid herself in the small room,

She had lost something while running in the rain
But she couldn’t think of it

She was covered by the cold tears of sky
And later on by a towel and a cold sheet,

Her hair started to suck up the raindrops
But there were enough of them left to make her a halo
Glowing under the thin line of light
Coming in from nowhere

She hid her face in the towel,
She hid her body under the sheets,
And went to sleep thinking
The walls will do the job; hiding her cold body from the world

While trying to move her thoughts far, faraway from the room
She remembered what she had lost in the rain;
A crystal ball she bought in the Friday market!

The crystal ball that showed her shining face that morning
Distorted, vacant but still shiny

She had bought it
Thinking it was a good deal
She remembered the vendor; a young girl
But she couldn’t make a face for her
The only thing she could see then was the crystal ball

She lost it while running in the rain
She had bought it for now, for this moment
Just to hold it in her hands
She wanted it for now
And for the time she is forgotten

She had lost the crystal ball
And that was the last thing she thought of, before going to sleep
Waiting there for someone to find her,
Like the crystal ball waiting for a hand to be fetched.

The Crystal Ball that I never bought, NYC, May 2008

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Art & Satire in Iran

On Sunday I visited Ardeshir Mohasses: Art and Satire in Iran Exhibition in Asia Society Museum. Ardeshir Mohassess is an Iranian illustrator (born in1938) who was active from 1951. This is the artist’s first retrospective in the United States focusing on his works during 1976 – 2000. Shirin Neshat and Nikzad Nodjoumi are the curators for the exhibition; it is on view until August 3rd. Putting aside my personal motivations (and that I am writing a piece for July/August issue of Peyk Newsletter), it is an exhibition well worth visiting.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Musical Ending!

Our vacation will be over soon; Payam* has already left and Leva and Vahid are leaving the East Coast to get back to the golden state tomorrow.** Besides our frequent visits to the New York City, we went to Washington DC and Philadelphia. In our city tours while trying to stick mostly to arts, we often ate the street food, which suited both our pocket and taste.

We spent the evening in Broadway last night; we saw the Phantom of the Opera. It filled our eyes and ears with its glorious set and music. The Phantom of the Opera in Majestic Theater is in its seventeenth year. I read Susan Kay’s novel, Phantom (1990 - translated to Farsi by Maliheh Mohammadi in 1998). Kay’s novel is based on Gaston Leroux novel of 1910. I should say that I like Kay's novel more than Gaston Leroux’s book. In Kay’s Phantom we follow Erik’s life in memories of different characters and we go as back as his birth. I like this collective style in which a specific event, Erik’s life here, is told from various points of view. But this was not the narrative style in last night’s musical; The Phantom of the Opera was based on the straight style of Gaston Leroux, starting in the Opera House enchanted by the ghost and ending by the phantom's disappearance.

Speaking of Broadway musicals in April I went to see another Tony Award-winning musical, Spring Awakening. A sophisticated rock musical, Spring Awakening, is composed by Ducan Sheik and written by Steven Sater. The story is based on Frank Wedekind’s play about a group of teenagers and their attempt in breaking the limits of their sexual freedom.

The 1925 poster for The Phantom of The Opera

* I wish Payam had stayed for a couple of more days, so we could see the Phantom together.
** I've already started missing them!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Metropolis In View

I have my friends over here from the West Coast and their company is an excuse for me to re-explore the big apple. Today we started from the Statue of Liberty and we ended up on the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where we visited Koons’ exhibition, Jeff Koons On The Roof. I also quickly went through the special exhibition on the first floor of the MET, Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy. I will write more about these two exhibitions.

I will put an experimental plan for Tameshk’s interactive film club here soon, but in the meantime check out these two: one is Death in Gaza (2004) an upsettingly potent documentary by James Miller and Saira Shah about the lives of children in the Gaza Strip which ends up with the death of the director, James Miller. And the other is Bunny Lake Is Missing (1965) a mystery-thriller directed by Otto Preminger; he is a genius. I loved the movie. Apparently there is going to be a reproduction of Bunny Lake Is Missing (2009) by Joe Carnahan. But don't miss the Preminger film.

Also my two page article, Qajar Paintings: Royal Portraits, was published in Peyk newsletter, May & June 2008 (English section). Bahar Sarkash's article, Islamic Art?, was also published in the same issue. These articles and many more are now available on the English section of Peyk 115 here as pdf.

And last but not least: This week is Shirzanan's first year anniversary. It is an online weakly magazine and the first that exclusively covers women’s sports in Iran. I help with their English page (since September 2007). Read more about Shirzanan here on Wikipedia. Happy Birthday Shirzanan!

The Metropolis in view, Self Portrait on Met's Roof, New York, May 2008
Balloon Dog(detail), Jeff Koons, 1994-2000

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Movie Buzz!

Movie Reviews (Part-1):

You have probably noticed by now that I have many posts on films and cinema in general. I always wanted to make them more organized. For the start I decided to give two posts each month specifically to movie reviews; one of the posts will be short reviews of Newly Released films and the other one will be a review of older films that I regularly see on DVD. This is also a start point for Tameshk's interactive Film Club. (Let me know if you like to join!)

Recently Released:

Iron Man (2008): A Must See movie directed by Jon Favreau, who among other films also directed Elf in 2003. This action supper hero adventure is not like other super-heroic characters out of comic books; Unlike many other super heroes Iron Man does not get its power from a mysterious source or from a science experiment-going-wrong, Iron Man consciously built its super heroic power. It is an Iron shield that enables him to fly by using a small reactor. Iron Man is the supper hero of engineers; he is a genius inventor whose lifetime achievement was producing elaborate and efficient arms and weapons; But not any more. The plot is very well written (more than 7 people worked on the screenplay and the development of characters) and the movie ends beautifully. Every single shot of this 126 min film is worth it. and who doesn't love Robert Downey as Tony Stark & Iron Man. I hope you get to see it on the big screen. My vote is A for Iron Man.

The Counterfeiters (Die Fälscher, 2007) directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky is the story of the largest counterfeiting plot in history that was set up by Nazis in the late 30’s. The Counterfeiters portrays the inside story of a group of prisoners (professionals and criminals) who are forced to produce fake foreign currency under the program Operation Berhard by Nazi regime. Karl Markovics’ brilliant performance as Salomon Sorowitsch (Sally) has such a grip on the viewer that he or she doesn’t need to know German to understand his character. Unlike many other World War II films The Counterfeiters is more than anything is the story of survival rather than resistance: survival of the fellow prisoners survival of self and survival of the Nazi regime. Yet at the end one easily comes to agreement with Sally, that under any dictatorship surviving is the most powerful resistance. Don’t let the foreign language scare you; it is very easy to follow the English subtitle. My vote is A- for The Counterfeiters.

The Bank Job (2008) is not actually this month’s movie but I have seen it recently. A crime-thriller directed by Roger Donaldson who also directed Cocktail (1988) and The World's Fastest Indian (2005), Bank Job is based on the true story of Baker Street bank robbery in 1971. One of the biggest bank robberies in Great Britain which was never solved or better say never told for over 30 years, only to cover a robbery ordered by government. It is well directed and despite its straight story Bank Job remains exciting throughout the film: a bank robbery plot that has a complex conclusion for its engaging criminals. It is an entertaining B+ film. For me the only thing that is bothersome is the ending sequence and David Suchet’s (Lew Vogel) physical struggle with Jason Statham (Terry leather). (David Suchet played Detective Hercule Poirot in my favorite Agatha Christie series)

Baby Mama (2008) directed by Michael McCullers is a disaster. I don’t want to be hard on a first time director but no matter how much I try, the nicest way to say it is that Baby Mama is a terrible comedy with a bad story. The movie is a proof that a bunch of great and funny SNL actresses cannot save a movie that has a terrible story. The movie tries to touch on the life of a single successful businesswoman and the issues regarding surrogacy and it fails heavily. I am really glad that they had Romany Malco (Oscarr) there otherwise my face even wouldn’t have that one smile during the film. My vote is C- for Baby Mama.

Forgetting Sara Marshall (2008) directed by Nicholas Stoller is a very funny romantic comedy. The movie is a success especially since it is Stoller's first directing experience. Walking on the tin edge of relationship, sex and betrayal Forgetting Sara Marshall easily escapes from being cheesy. The movie benefits form the strong performances by Kristen Bell and Jason Segel. I am definitely looking forward to Stoller’s second film: Get Him To Greek. My vote is B+ for Forgetting Sara Marshall.

I very much want to see The Visitor (2008) directed by Tom McCarthy. I hope to find some time soon. And the film that I am not going to see on the big screen is Sex & The City (2008); I think it is only wiser to get it from Netflix; I don't mind at all to wait for it.

Robert Downey, Iron Man 2008

Thursday, May 08, 2008

More On Design & The Elastic Mind

Charlie Rose Program on Design and the Elastic Mind @ MOMA:

This is a postscript* entry for the second part of my previous post, where I wrote about MOMA's exhibition, Design and the Elastic Mind. You will find this interview helpful if you are looking for a shortcut to understand how new developments in science and digital technology has affected the modern design and transformed today's art world. This interview is very important, so I decided to put it here as a separate post:

* PS. Charlie Rose & Design and the Elastic Mind, is an interview with Paola Antonelli, the senior curator at the Department of Architecture and Design at MOMA . This is a great interview, not only because it is one of Charlie Rose's interviews but also because it will give you the heads up in understanding the main idea behind technological based art exhibitions such as Design and the Elastic Mind. I just watched it today (May 8th 2008) on channel Thirteen.

Design and the Elastic Minde,
Catalogue Cover