Thursday, 21 July 2016

On Metamorphosis and Transformation: The Blind Owl Meets the Hunger Artist

A creative playground by Aphrodite Désirée Navab

From the series: The Blind Owl Meets the Hunger Artist. Courtesy Studio 26 Gallery.
by Anna Savoy, NY Arts Magazine

East Village’s popular Studio 26 Gallery which is located in the Eastvillager building on East 3rd St. between Avenues A and B, hosted an interesting artistic exploration by Aphrodite Désirée Navab–an ink drawing series, When Madness Meets Hunger, curated by Marika Maiorova. This conceptual project represents an imaginary encounter between the protagonist of Iranian writer Sadeq Hedayat’s novella, The Blind Owl, and the protagonist of Czech writer Franz Kafka’s short story, “The Hunger Artist,” integrated by Navab.

Aphrodite Désirée Navab invited the audience to examine the similarities and differences that she found between all three artists and writers in the room, herself included. In answer to a question from the audience: “What if Kafka and Hedayat were alive and here in this room right now?” Navab answered, “I hope that they would not be horrified by my elementary level dialogue.” An artist and a writer herself, Navab’s response was both humble and modest. Her artistic work is anything but elementary—rather, quite sophisticated and eloquent. She earned her doctorate in Art Education at Columbia University in 2004 and received her BA magna cum laude in Visual and Environmental Studies from Harvard College in 1993. “This work comes from the place of incredible admiration,” Navab confides, something palpable to her audience.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

The life and career of Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami

by David Walsh, WSWS

Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami died in Paris on July 4 from gastrointestinal cancer. He had traveled to France in June for medical treatment. There have been questions raised in some quarters about the treatment he received in Iran. His death has sparked expressions of genuine sorrow from many figures in the film world.

Kiarostami directed a number of striking short films and features before the Iranian revolution of 1979, but he will be best remembered and long honored for the series of feature films, including documentaries, that he made between 1987 and 1997: Where Is the Friend’s Home? (1987), Homework (1989), Close-Up (1990), Life, And Nothing More … (1992), Through the Olive Trees (1994) and Taste of Cherry (1997). He was perhaps the most important filmmaker in the world during those years.

At a time of general intellectual renunciationism and movement to the right within global “left” artistic circles, Kiarostami was one of the few filmmakers who maintained a concern for the problems of the young, the poor and the oppressed and, moreover, addressed those problems in an artistically fresh and innovative fashion. He was a member of a significant trend in Iranian cinema, inspired by the mass revolutionary potential of the 1979 events.

Born in 1940 in Tehran, Kiarostami won a painting competition at the age of 18 and left home to attend Tehran University's Faculty of Fine Arts, a program he eventually failed. He passed at another art school and became a commercial artist. During the early and mid-1960s, Kiarostami made more than 150 television advertisements. In 1969, he helped set up a filmmaking department at the Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults (known as Kanun), an organization founded by the Shah's wife. Although Kiarostami never spoke of it, his various artistic and intellectual endeavors would have brought him into contact in Tehran with left-wing figures, past and present.