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!