Friday, 28 November 2014

Iranian artist Monir Farmanfarmaian's mirror sculptures dazzle during Prospect.3

Monir Farmanfarmaian has created work over the past fifty years that reflects the dichotomous nature of her two homes: Iran and New York City, and the dualities of her successes and devastations (during Iran’s Islamic Revolution in the 1970s, most of her work was confiscated or destroyed). Her sculptural mosaics, featured here, marry traditional Persian design motifs with elements of Western modernism, combining mirrored pieces and reverse painting on glass in striking geometric frameworks. The glass and mirrors she uses put the world’s reflection front and center, but their arrangements also explore potentially mathematical concepts of infinity, bursting with an internal light that enhances their own physicality.
Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian. Porto 24.
by Doug MacCash, The Times-Picayune on

Iranian artist Monir Farmanfarmaian's sculptures at the Newcomb Art Gallery during New Orleans' international art festival, Prospect.3, are like giant gemstones. She creates abstract geometric shapes based on traditional Persian architecture, then encrusts them with reflective mosaics made from thousands of small, precisely cut mirror fragments. On one hand her sculptures have the cool cerebral quality of minimalism, but their glimmering surfaces lend them an irresistible gaiety as well.

Born in 1924, Farmanfarmaian has seen a lot of history go by. According to Internet references, World War II prevented her from traveling to Paris to study art as she had hoped, so she attended art schools in New York during the advent of the abstract expressionist movement, becoming friends with avant-garde stars such as Joan Mitchell, Louise Nevelson, Jackson Pollock and eventually Andy Warhol. By 1958 she was a star herself, representing Iran in the Venice Biennale, the international art event that is the model for Prospect.3. Her career flourished in Iran until the 1979 Islamic Revolution, when much of her work was destroyed and she returned to New York.

Mirrored geometric sculptures by Iranian artist Monir Farmanfarmaian (L: Instagram photo by Doug MacCash / | The Times-Picayune; R: Courtesy Newcomb Art Gallery)

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Persian Letters

The allure and enduring legacy of Persian Nasta’liq calligraphy
Detail of a work from Sadegh Tirafkan’s ‘Body Curves’ series. Courtesy REORIENT.
by Kevin Schwartz, REORIENT

When the famed calligrapher Mir Emad was murdered at the Safavid court in 1615 – perhaps on account of artistic rivalry or perhaps because of his religious affiliations – an important chapter in the history of the calligraphic script known as nasta’liq came to a close. Mir Emad was not the originator of nasta’liq, which emerged in 14th century Iran as a likely marriage of two other styles (naskh and ta’liq), but he was nonetheless largely regarded as its undisputed master, attracting admirers among his Safavid patrons, Mughal emperors in South Asia, and countless others even long after his death. His demise brought to end a prolific period of nasta’liq production that witnessed the rise of an unknown script to one heightening the sensory reception of Persian verse to an artistic end in itself, often overpowering the meaning of the texts it was used to write with its visual appeal. In but a few centuries, nasta’liq had triumphed as the premier style for artfully presenting the words of poets and authors writing in Persian, both major and minor (in addition to occasionally being used for Ottoman Turkish, and in rare instances, Arabic). This rich period in the history of the script, the study of which is at times relegated to an afterthought compared to other Persianate arts such as poetry, painting, and architecture, is the subject of a new exhibition entitled Nasta’liq: The Genius of Persian Calligraphy at the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington, D.C. On display there are single folio pages and books featuring examples of nasta’liq in jali (large) and khafi (minute) scripts, as well as the calligraphic implements employed, making for an altogether admirable overview of a script that shot across the Persianate world between the 14th and 17th centuries and set the artistic standard for Persian calligraphy.

The Genius of Persian Calligraphy charts the emergence and proliferation of nasta’liq through the exploration of four of the style’s most preeminent exponents: the presumptive inventor, Mir Ali Tabrizi (active between 1370 and 1410); the exemplar of the classical style, Sultan Ali Mashhadi (d. 1520); the large-format specialist, Mir Ali Haravi (d. 1550), and the aforementioned Mir Emad al-Hasani (d. 1615). Each of these calligraphers’ artistic output mirrors an important phase in the development of nasta’liq, and lends insight into a specialised world of calligraphic expression. Beginning with the mastery of Mir Ali Tabrizi, whose talents and instruction led to the consecration of a number of selselehs (lineages) in eastern Iran and beyond, and continuing onwards to the peerless works of Mir Emad at the court of Shah Abbas the Great, the exhibition considers how the calligraphers honed their skills through long hours in their ateliers and raised nasta’liq to the highest reaches of aesthetic delight for patrons, kings, and connoisseurs throughout the Persianate world, from Anatolia to South Asia. The end result was the creation of a style equally attractive for calligraphers crafting the looping letters and diamond-shaped diacritics of the delicately curved script as it was for the connoisseurs left in awe of its artistry.

Iran Mourns Lost Youth in Thousands

The coffin holding Morteza Pashaei's body was carried through a large crowd on Sunday in Tehran. Photo by Saeed Faramarzi. Courtesy Nasimonline and The Huffington Post.
by Tara Kangarlou, The Huffington Post

For the first time in nearly three decades since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the Iranian people and the government were in unison to mourn a pop singer's death -- a 30-year-old singer and songwriter who died after a year-long battle with stomach cancer last week.

According to participants and the Iranian media that covered the events, thousands of people took the streets of Tehran and other major metropolitans including religious cities like Mashhad to mourn the death of Morteza Pashaei -- the pop singer whose romantic, emotional and mostly melancholy melodies touched millions of hearts inside the country of almost 70 million, but also other Iranians around the world.

Since 2009 and the aftermath of the much-disputed presidential election where hundreds of thousands of Iranians came together to march, cry, and stand in unity for what came to be known as the "green revolution" -- last week's unexpected public gatherings were not stifled by government forces and to much surprise, were in fact supported by some Iranian officials including the Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance who released a message of condolence after Pashaei's death.

"It was an incredible scene, I've never seen such coverage for a young pop singer in Iran; it was as if you're watching a western news coverage after a celebrity's death," said Hoorieh Rahimi, a middle-aged mom of three who lives in the United States and spends winters in her hometown of Tehran.

Surprised by what she saw on the national broadcasting channel that's monitored and controlled by the Iranian government and the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, Rahimi added that "the news would go back and forth between shots of Pashaei singing in his concerts and then show live shots the thousands of people escorting his coffin to the grave-site also known as Behesht-e Zahra."

In Iran -- a young nation, where the majority of its population is under the age of 40 -- the government only allows and propagates such public grievings to mourn the death of a cleric or to commemorate a religious figure's martyrdom or death.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

'A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night'

Interview with Sheila Vand 
Image via SpectreVision. Courtesy Complex.
by , Complex

Sheila Vand knows she's about to confuse the hell out of you. Her two breakout acting roles are dropping this week—State of Affairs hit NBC last night and A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is in theaters Friday—but they couldn't be farther apart. The former, led by Katherine Heigl, is a political drama that deals with the inner workings of the CIA, while the latter, directed by newcomer Ana Lily Amirpour, is an Iranian vampire western. For State, Vand is a brainy CIA Secretary of Defense briefer who plays BFF with Heigl; for Girl, Vand is a centuries-old vampire who sucks the life out of misbehaving men and avenges scorned women. So, you know, this week is pretty clutch for Vand's acting reel, which also includes a small part in Argo.

But Vand knows exactly what she's doing. The 29-year-old Palo Alto native is all about defying expectations and breaking free from any pigeonholing. As you'll see, she's not "Iranian-American actress Sheila Vand." She's just Sheila Vand—complicated, "new age-y," and optimistic. Should she be anything else?

What drew you to A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night?

I knew Lily [Amirpour] from before. We had done a couple short films together, so I already loved working with her. When she offered me the part, the script wasn’t written yet, but she had a pretty good sense of the world she wanted to create and knew that I wanted to live and play in that world. I was down right off the bat; she’s like a soul sister to me.

Did you have any input into your character?

Yeah, there were tons of conversations. It was a long process. On one hand, Lily’s an auteur, so she has a very clear vision of what she wants and where it’s headed, but she is also really collaborative in that she loves talking about ideas and giving you lots of resources to enrich your performance. Also, our shoot date kept getting pushed, so then we’d have another few months to go even deeper. But she wrote the part for me, so my spirit is in there more than I ever talked to her about what I wanted The Girl to be like. She already knew, and she molded it to who I am.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014


Film Review: 
This remarkable debut from Iranian director Nima Javidi transcends cultural barriers with its compellingly universal and thoroughly engrossing premise.
Melbourne (2014)
by Peter Debruge, Variety

Why give an Iranian film an Australian title? In the misleadingly named “Melbourne,” the distant city is but an abstract idea — like Michael Haneke’s “The Seventh Continent” — of a new life far removed from the hassles and stress that hound its central couple. Set almost entirely in a Tehran apartment, where the action unspools virtually in real time, Nima Javidi’s unnerving debut takes an incredibly relatable premise (impossible to discuss without revealing the surprise) and invites auds to speculate what they might do in the characters’ shoes, effectively minimizing the distance that can sometimes limit Western interest in Iranian cinema.

“Melbourne” debuted at the Venice Film Festival, where it kicked off the Intl. Critics’ Week sidebar, but has since managed to confuse potential champions as it travels the circuit, the title inadvertently disguising its true cultural identity. Fest programmers are constantly on the hunt for strong new Persian voices, and Javidi demonstrates enormous potential, judging by a feature that makes such strong use of its script and two central characters, Amir (another gripping turn from “A Separation’s” Peyman Moaadi) and Sara (Negar Javaherian, every bit his equal).

This seemingly ordinary middle-class couple have one foot out the door when we meet them, via a somewhat clunky introduction: The film opens on a flustered female census worker who arrives at Amir and Sara’s flat just as the two are packing their bags to leave. (The credits unspool over a hypnotic montage of clothes being vacuum-sealed into plastic bags, which might have been a wiser way to begin the picture.) She interviews them briefly — just long enough to establish that they are on their way to Melbourne, where the couple intends to spend three years — before disappearing.

Perhaps Javidi needed a device to distract us during the film’s opening reel, which focuses on the relatively normal confusion one might expect to find in an apartment whose residents are trying to juggle the last details before a major life change. Characters come and go, including a young woman (evidently a family member, though her connection isn’t clear) who fusses with a baby sleeping in the back bedroom. And the baby? Well, she belongs to a neighbor, whose nanny asked Sara to watch little Tina for a few hours on a day when her attention is clearly elsewhere.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

‘Thunder’ Rocks Iran

Rouhani Era Gets Guitar Soundtrack as ‘Thunder’ Rocks Iran
The Iranian band Thunder perform live in this photo taken from their promotional video. Courtesy Thunder and Bloomberg.

In the 10 months since his band was given official permission to perform, Iranian rock singer Ardavan Anzabipour has learned when to cool things down.

“People want to see some action on stage but we must be careful not to overdo it,” Anzabipour, the 40-year-old lead singer of Thunder, said in a Dubai hotel last month before its debut show in the United Arab Emirates. “It’s a challenge. We bring the excitement up but they’re not able to move” as dancing in public is banned, he said.

Since the election of moderate President Hassan Rouhani last year, the number of Iranian bands allowed to stage concerts has surged. The post-revolution era, during which live western-style music was restricted to underground events or impossible to find, is fading. Yet all public performances still need to be sanctioned by guardians of the Islamic Republic’s officially ordained values.

Sanam Pasha, Thunder’s 36-year-old female vocalist, is careful to style her image appropriately. She has to respect Iran’s dress code for women -- a headscarf and loose-fitting coat -- and appear, by local standards, neither too passionate nor sultry.

“Stepping right and left if it appears too rhythmic is no good. Sometimes it’s preferable to not even smile,” Pasha said. “Making sure my scarf isn’t sliding requires energy, too.”

And while her voice can be distinctly heard on stage, she must make sure it doesn’t rise above Anzabipour’s -- or at least only very briefly.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Repatriating The Yellow Dogs: what happened to Iran's rock stars slain in New York?

The band left their homeland to pursue their artistic dream, but it came to an end in tragedy in a New York neighbourhood. Their families then faced a fight to bring their bodies back 
Yellow Dogs memorial. Courtesy Golbarg Bashi and the Guardian.
by John Albert for the Tehran Bureau, Guardian

On a bright and cold morning on 16 November 2013, a funeral procession left Brooklyn for John F Kennedy airport. A hearse carried the body of Soroush Farazmand. Behind him in a black mini van was the body of his brother Arash, who was taller.

NoorudDean Abu Ibrahim, a Brooklyn funeral director was driving the mini van. The brothers were being flown back to Tehran for burial.

At the rear of the tragic motorcade was Peymaneh Sazegari who had driven overnight from her home in Toronto as soon as she heard the terrible news.

Sazegari was a cousin, and close to Arash and Soroush’s mother Farzaneh who was in Tehran. The two were like sisters. She had spoken frequently to the brothers about making a trip to New York to visit. She was their only family living in north America, and only an eight hour drive away, at that. But plans had always fallen through.

When Sazegari did finally visit the city, it was to help make their funeral arrangements.

Through five days of stress and uncertainty, Sazegari had kept her composure. She had navigated an unfamiliar city and handled all the necessary arrangements. But when she saw the signs for JFK, she broke down into tears.

“This is the funeral procession,” she sobbed. “This is it.”

Just a few years earlier, guitarist Arash and drummer Soroush had arrived at that airport with their instruments, excited about a future in a new country.

On 11 November 2013, just after midnight, they were shot dead in their Brooklyn home along with a close friend and collaborator, Ali Eskandarian. Their killer, Ali Mohammadi Akbar Rafie, or Rafi to the others, a fellow musician and expatriate with a history of mental illness, then shot and killed himself.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Sex, Drugs, and Gol-o-Bolbol

‘If Iran ever had a rock and roll dynasty, it belonged to the Qajars’
A Qajar belle given the Warhol treatment by Hojat Amani. Courtesy REORIENT.
by Joobin Bekhrad, REORIENT

It’s a stiflingly hot and humid morning in New York City. Though I probably shouldn’t, I pour myself another dose of crimson Persian chai in a kamar-barik teacup amidst a din of blaring sirens, whiny horns, scratchy radios, and Manhattan chatter steaming forth from the dirty boulevard below. I’ve got fuzzed-out riffs bouncing about in my head, and am picturing myself sauntering down St. Mark’s Place later in the afternoon before ambling into the seedy corner bar, just like Mick and Keith in Waiting on a Friend. Happily daydreaming whilst timidly sipping my tea, lest I scald my tongue, my cousin and I decide to while away the time by browsing through a mishmash of old, yellowed photo albums, lavishly-illustrated books about Iran, and some artefacts unearthed from her dusty closet of curios. My eyes glance over the panoply of pictures, ceramics, folios, and metalwork arrayed before me, none of which particularly pique my interest; I’m 16, and all I want to do is fall in love, start a rock and roll band, and bury my high school days in the dust. Khayyam? Ferdowsi? Give me the New York Dolls any day.

Just as we’re about to head out to bite the Big Apple, my cousin remembers an old oil painting tucked away somewhere she thinks I’d find interesting. As she blows away the dust accumulated over many moons from its ornate frame, my pupils dilate, and I feel the hair on my legs stand erect; I am, after all, face-to-face with the Pivot of the Universe, God’s Shadow on Earth, the King of Kings, Fat’h Ali Shah-e Qajar, in all his bejeweled and bearded glory. Though I can’t tell my Pahlavi from my Safavi, and have scarce turned a page in the annals of Iranian history, I find something alluring about this figure nonetheless. His look is sinister and haughty, his countenance overbearing and imposing; and, eyeing this hirsute sovereign (Billy Gibbons, go home) with one blessed palm resting on the hilt of a glittering dagger, and the other clutching the tortuous pipe of a gaudy ghalyan, the words on Keith Richards’ now-iconic 70s t-shirt resonate as true as ever: who the fuck is Mick Jagger?

Iranians scream into pots at new contemporary art center

 The screaming pots of artist Babak Golkar are seen at an exhibition in Tehran October 17, 2014. Credit: Mehdi Bolourian-Sazmanab. Courtesy Reuters
by Michelle Moghtader, Reuters

A contemporary art gallery in central Tehran is giving Iranians a chance to let out their frustrations by screaming into clay pots sculpted by a Vancouver-based artist, exhibiting in the country of his ancestors for the first time.

The earthen pots, some of which resemble traditional water jars, are designed not for containing liquids but to relieve the stresses of urban life - noise, traffic and pollution - if only for a moment.

"When logic fails to explain, it becomes natural to scream. The (pots) reflect many conditions that we are faced with, often unexplained with logic," artist Babak Golkar told Reuters by e-mail from Canada last week, shortly after his exhibition opened.

Gallery creator Sohrab Kashani said it has been packed with stylish Iranians screaming into vessels of various shapes and sizes. Some are designed to amplify sound, some to mute, but all made with the same clay that is typical of parts of Iran.

Golkar said he had decided the time was right to return to Tehran after years of avoiding exhibiting there.

"I was physically gone for a long time but mentally never left. To come back and engage actively and not as a passive tourist was a true privilege," he said. 

He, like many contemporary artists who have departed from traditional mediums such as painting and sculpture, had difficulty finding a place to work with experimental and performance-based mediums until Sazmanab, a privately funded art center founded by Kashani, stepped in.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Iran native eyes Schenectady café as venue for conversation

Dr. Mahmood Karimi Hakak, stands in front of 703 Union Street in Schenectady Wednesday, November 5, 2014.   Photographer: Peter R. Barber. Courtesy Gazette.
by Bethany Bump, Gazette Reporter

Fifteen years ago, Iranian officials raided Mahmood Karimi-Hakak’s sold-out production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and shut it down.

The Islamic regime in power at the time had been sending censors to observe Karimi-Hakak’s take on one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays, and they objected to a scene in which an actor made a pushing gesture toward an actress from 10 inches away. Men and women were forbidden from touching on stage, and from a certain angle an audience member might think the actors had touched, the officials told him. Karimi-Hakak increased the distance.

But on the fifth night of sold-out performances, officials raided the show, shouting violent threats and calling the women on stage whores. With hundreds of people in the audience, Karimi-Hakak urged the raiders to sit down with him on stage and discuss their concerns with the audience. If the audience believed them valid, he would happily shut down, he said.

“I said, ‘Look, theater is an art based on dialogue; therefore, stage is the most appropriate place for opposing forces to sit down and have a conversation,’ ” the Niskayuna resident and Siena College professor recalled 15 years later. “Of course, they did not do it, because they knew if there was a dialogue, they’d have no legs to stand on.”

Now, Karimi-Hakak has a new plan to foster dialogue, right here in Schenectady. He’s asking the city for approval to open a café at 703 Union St., a two-story building across from Union College, to host film screenings, poetry readings, arts and crafts exhibits and plain old conversation.

Café International would offer coffee, pastries, Persian teas and sweets. With some minimal renovations and city Planning Commission approval later this month, it could open by March, right in time for the Persian New Year.

“I want to gather people under the same roof for tea and conversation,” Karimi-Hakak said. “All kinds of people: academics, artists, students, people from all walks of life. As a theater artist, I sincerely believe that the only way to survival as human beings is to have conversations with one another to understand that we can live in this world together and we don’t have to think the same way to do it.”

Friday, 7 November 2014

"In Iran, art fills a void"

Interview with the Iranian theatre director Amir Reza Koohestani
A photo of Amir Reza Koohestani's production of Chekhov's "Ivanov" (photo: Mani Lotfizadeh). Courtesy Qantara.
Interview by David Siebert, Qantara

Amir Reza Koohestani is currently the most sought-after theatre director in Iran. David Siebert talked to him about censorship, the enthusiasm for theatre among young Iranians and the new cultural freedom under President Rouhani

You began studying in Manchester in 2007. When the Green Movement emerged in Iran two years later and tens of thousands of Iranians began protesting against suspected fraud in the re-election of President Ahmadinejad, you immediately returned home. Why?

Amir Reza Koohestani: I had the feeling that this was a historic moment not to be missed and that I couldn't just sit around idly. When I returned to Iran in July 2009, the government and the authorities had already quashed the Green Movement. The whole country was suffering under a massive depression. Everyone had lost hope, especially artists and intellectuals. I made reference to these events in my stage play "Where were you on 8 January?" and shortly thereafter encountered problems with the authorities. But only indirectly – public funds for my theatre company "More" suddenly dried up.

In 2011, you staged Chekhov's drama "Ivanov" in Tehran. Iranian critics named it "best stage play of the year". Why did you decide to stage one of the classics of European theatre?

Koohestani: The censors were watching me. It was clear that I couldn't stage any of my own works anymore. So I chose Chekhov's "Ivanov" in order to hide behind it, so to speak. The play initially comes across as a simple, harmless love story.

Chekhov's tragedy from 1887 tells the story of Ivanov, a depressive Russian landowner, who falls in love with the much younger Sasha. On the surface, it is a play about a mid-life crisis, but what it really does is satirise the apathy and stagnation of Tsarist Russia at the end of the nineteenth century. You adapted the play to mirror the current situation in Iran. Was this an attempt to describe the lethargy and hopelessness in Iran after the failure of the Green Movement?

On the surreal in contemporary Iranian cinema

Surreal images permeate FAT SHAKER
by Travis Bird, Shotgun Cinema

Contemporary Iran is one place where the very fact that a film is made is just as vital as what’s in it. It defies the comfortable notion that art can exist in an idealized vacuum. Art is made by and experienced by individuals, and in the case of Iran after the 1979 Islamic revolution, cinema in particular sends filmmakers and cinephiles on their own strange trips.

Cinephilia and filmgoing is something Americans can take for granted (maybe too much so), but in Iran, it ranges from difficult to ridiculous. As Azadeh Jafari and Vahid Mortazavi detail in this piece for Reverse Shot, encountering movies in Islamic Iran has often involved black-market VHS peddlers and non-subtitled material, in addition to dubbed and censored versions of more generic fare. As the authors suggest, encountering non-standard cinema was (and is) often an individual exercise, both empowering and isolated.

Independent filmmaking, similarly, has become an isolated exercise in Iran. Actually, most of what Americans hear about contemporary Iranian cinema revolves around its not being produced, mainly due to individual bans on filmmaking doled out by the Iranian government. Jafar Panahi has been perhaps the most notable cause célèbre, in part because of his success before receiving a 20-year ban and six-year jail sentence in 2010, but also because he has in fact managed to defy the ban by making (to date) two powerful feature films, This Is Not A Film (2011) – which was smuggled out of the country to the Cannes Film Festival on a flash drive hidden in a birthday cake – and Closed Curtain (2013).

Panahi was and remains a genuinely significant filmmaker, and his post-ban films can be read as evidence of the psychological deterioration he’s endured as an ideological target: as desperate as they are defiant, as much therapy as protest. The cake story in particular adds a darkly surrealistic element, showing just how extreme the measures must be taken in order to avoid being caught, which in turn suggests just how nightmarish it would actually be to get caught.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

The Republic of Imagination

Azar Nafisi’s latest is an ode to literary America, from Iran, with love
by Robert Fulford, National Post

In the fall of 1979, during the early days of Iran’s Islamic revolution, the 24-year-old Azar Nafisi was teaching her students at the University of Tehran the virtues of two American books, Huckleberry Finn and The Great Gatsby. At the same moment, in the courtyard below, Islamists were shouting, “Death to America!” and the nearby U.S. embassy was under siege by screaming, murderously passionate anti-Americans.

“The new regime,” as she remembers it, “was leading a bloody crusade against Western imperialism, against the rights of women and minorities, against cultural and individual freedom.” That was the program of the Islamic Republic of Iran. And she, through literature, was doing her best to teach the reverse.

“Suddenly a new regime had established itself, taking hold of my country, my religion, my traditions, and claiming that the way I looked, the way I acted — what I believed in and desired as a human being, as a woman, a writer and teacher — were all alien.”

Under pressure at the university, she continued her classes at home, meeting discreetly with a few students who weren’t worried about official dogma. Eventually Nafisi left Iran and ended up in Washington as an American citizen and a lecturer at Johns Hopkins University. Her experience with private teaching in Tehran led eventually to Reading Lolita in Tehran, published a decade ago, in which she described what free literature meant to women living sharply circumscribed lives. She imagined that with luck her book would sell 9,000 copies; it sold 1.5 million, in 32 languages. It outraged Iranian critics and made her famous.