Saturday, 17 September 2016

Open letter from the Board of Directors of the Association of Iranian Painters

An open letter from the Board of Directors of the Association of Iranian Painters, to the Artistic Deputy of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, à propos the concerns, doubts, and questions as regards the dispatch of the collection of objects of art to an exhibition tour abroad.

In the Name of God 
September 13, 2016
Mr. Ali Morad-Khani, Eminent Artistic Deputy of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance:

In view of the fact that the supervision and responsibilities of the presentation of the national treasure of the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Arts outside the country has been officially delegated to you, we formally recognize you as the person to act in response to our enquiries. This is because Mr. Majid Mulla-Nowruzi, the Director of the Museum is not responding to our questions on this matter, claiming that he has already made everything clear. He has formally asserted, “there is no need for us to discuss all matters with all individuals; but if we make any mistakes then at that time they may comment on the issue.” (ILNA Press, September 6, 2016.)

The Iranian Art Society is deeply concerned about the fate of the country’s national heritage; it is concerned that the national treasure is to be sent outside the country, according to an international contract; the very national treasure which, on September 7, 2016, in an interview with the Persian Deutsche Welle website, Herman Partsinger, the Director of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation refers to as “the most valuable twentieth century art collection beyond the borders of Europe and North America.” All these concerns are because the senior directors of the Ministry of Islamic Guidance have not clarified the nature of the contract, or they have kept silent and have obviously avoided giving clear answers. Even the report on the Persian Deutsche Welle website of September 7, 2016, entitled, “The German Capital City to Host the First Tehran National Treasure Exhibition” has inreased the current obscurities.

Mr. Morad-Khani, are all the legal aspects of this contract completely transparent to you? Are you not, like us, anxious about the complete return of all of these works of art? If you are absolutely positive that, according to the contract between the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Arts and “the German party,” all the originals will find their way back to Iran safe and sound and on time, we ask you, please, to hold an official meeting, with the press, art societies, artists, and those active in the arts all present, to give clear and transparent answers to all our legitimate enquiries in order to release this large group of concerned parties from their ever-increasing anxieties.

Mr. Morad-Khani, a range of worrying concerns and obvious questions are listed below:

  1. According to Article 77 of the Constitutional Law [of the I.R.I.], “all international treaties, documents of agreements, contracts and memoranda of agreements must be approved by the Islamic Consultative Assembly [Majles].” Is the transportation of this National Treasure subject to the Assembly’s approval? If not, then why not? If it is subject to the Assembly’s approval, then when did the Assembly approve such transportation? 
  2. What stipulations are included in this international contract that would guarantee the prompt, safe and intact return of all the original contents of this “most valuable twentieth century art collection beyond the borders of Europe and the North America”? What is the security of this guarantee?
  3. How long are these works of art expected to remain abroad? How do you know that there will be no possibility of confiscation or replacement of them with forgeries? 
  4. We require to know whether or not the Museum has signed a confidential contract with this “German party.” 
  5. Who were your consultant experts during the negotiations, and precisely which art works have been selected? 
  6. Uve Kittelmann, Director of the Berlin National Gallery, in an interview with the Persian Deutsche Welle site, has asserted that the selection of the art works has taken place under the collaboration of the “Iranian party” and the German National Gallery, “but in the end we received all we asked for.” If this is true, what was the role of the “Iranian party” in these negotiations that the “German party” was able to receive whatever they asked for? 

Mr. Morad-Khani, we express our profound hope that you will respond to this important national issue as promptly as possible.

With great respect,

The Board of Directors of the Association of Iranian Painters
Cc.: The President of the Islamic Republic of Iran

 Image courtesy ILNA.

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