Asia Society: Bridging Modern and Contemporary Iranian Art
In their introductions, the panelists recalled the biennial created by Ehsan Yarshater in 1958 as a crucial moment, ushering in modernism in Iranian art. As Hamid Keshmirshekan observed, new traditionalism in the art of the 1960s and 70s and in the saqqakhaneh movement of the period, was concerned with the question of imitation and appropriation in national art and consciousness. These preoccupations waned in the aftermath of a decade of revolutionary works in the 1980s and '90s and by the start of the reformist period in the mid-1990s, Iranian art emerged, embedded in global trends.
In this context, Mitra Abbaspour argued that Shirin Neshat's is an ideal case-study of a work that bridges the gap between the 1960s modernist era and contemporary global art. Neshat uses source materials from the 1950s and '60s, such as the poetry of Forrough-Farrokhzad in the calligraphy-on-skin photographs of the "Women of Allah" series, and the social-realist documentary works of Kaveh Golestan, that continue to inspire even her more recent film practice.
The emphasis on script and calligraphy, present in the art of the region (Dia Azzawi, Suad Attar, Shaker Hassan al-Said (Iraq), Burhan Dogançay (Turkey) and Etel Adnan (Lebanon -- and the first modernist hurufiyya artist)),as Venetia Porter pointed out, has given way to digitally altered photography in Iranian art. This too is evident, and especially so, in the contemporary artwork acquired by LACMA, the British Museum and the Tate Modern.
Linda Komaroff introduced the collection of Iranian contemporary art at LACMA, as work made largely by women such as Shadi Ghadirian. Houra Yaghoubi (Who is my generation?), with the notable exception of Sadegh Tirafkan.
What we see as the anti-ideological stand taken by contemporary Iranian artists, is in part a response to the pre-revolutionary generation, and a position taken against the orientalist look, as Iranian art attempts to lodge itself in the global art world.
Program in Literature
Via International Society for Iranian Studies
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