Arts at the Third Biennial Conference on Iranian Studies
Sponsored by the American Institute of Iranian Studies (AIIrS)
and the Society for Iranian Studies (SIS), The Third Biennial
Conference on Iranian Studies was held from May 25-28 ,2000
in Bethesda, Maryland. Dr. Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak was the Program
Committees Chair. The program for the Conference featured
a total of forty eight panels, workshops and other scholarly
events covering not only Iran but almost all the surrounding
regions as well. The FilmFest 2000 and The Encyclopedia
Iranica Art Exhibition, were among events of special cultural
and artistic significance held by the Conference.
Among the important panels related to art and art history
Art and Manuscript Studies, Chair and discussant: Priscilla
Soucek, New York University
Rethinking Persianate Modernity with Ms. Negar Mottahedeh
from University of Minnesota presenting a paper on Iranian
Cliches: Locating National Modernity in Photography,
Images & Their Meaning: New Research in Safavid Art
with Ms. Massumeh Farhad from Freer Gallery of Art at Arthur
M. Sackler Gallery as the Chair, and Dr. Sussan Babaie as
the panels discussant.
Art in Contemporary Iran: Production & Presentation-
the only panel on contemporary Iranian Art. This panel was
chaired by Dr. Layla Diba ,Chief Curator of Islamic Art
at Brooklyn Museum of Art and Kevorkian Center of New York
University, and Ms. Kendal Kennedy from Columbia University
as discussant. At this panel Mr. Hamid Nouri-Seresht from
Azad Islamic University presented a survey of recent Iranian
Painting,1970-2000 ( in Persian). Ms. Hengameh Fouladvand,
painter, member of Tavoos Advisory Board, and Executive
Director of Center for Iranian Modern Arts presented her
paper on Ethnicity as Spectacle. Ms. Sharon L. parker from
University of Arizona discussed Representation of Iranian
Women: The Construction of the New-Orientalism in the Art
of Haleh Niazmand and Shirin Neshat.
Exhibition of Modern Persian Art was coordinated by Dr. Houra Yavari, literary critic and a member of Center for Iranian Modern Art’s Advisory Panel. This exhibition included works donated by 54 artists to the Encyclopedia Iranica Foundation in support of its fund raising efforts. It included a wide range of styles, methods and techniques and featured works by some of the best known contemporary Persian artists from the US, Europe, and Iran. Included among the names were: Iran Darrudi, Ali Dowlatshahi, Mohammad Ehsai, Hengameh Fouladvand, Leyly Matine Daftary, Ardeshir Mohassess, Nicky Nodjoumi, Naser Ovissi, Houshang Seyhoun, and Charles Hossein Zendehroudi. This exhibition was also held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Bethesda, Maryland from May 25-28, with a reception on Thursday May 25.
Cosponsored by the Freer and Sackler Galleries & the
Foundation for Iranian Studies an evening of Persian Music
with Shahin & Sepehr was presented. This concert was
held on the steps of the Freer Gallery in Washington DC
on May 26 .
In addition A masterpiece of Iranian Architecture:
the Friday Mosque of Isfahan presented by Robert
Hillenbrand, university of Edinburgh was also scheduled
on May 26 at Haverford Ballroom, in Bethesda.
Among the most important films presented at the Third Biennial
Conference on Iranian studies in Bethesda, Maryland were:
Ahmad Shamlou, Master Poet of Liberty. This
hour-long documentary directed by Moslem mansouri and produced
by Dr. Bahman Maghsoudlou was originally sent to New York
without subtitles. It was subtitled and edited in New York
in 1998. Ever since its release to the public in 1999
the film has been selected by the Swedish Academy, CIRA
and MESA (Iranian Studies) Conferences. It has been praised
in Harvard University, University of North Carolina, Miami,
Washington DC, Baltimore, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, England,
Germany , and numerous other locations around the world.
14 Prominent Iranian scholars and artists pay tribute to
Mr. Shamlou and analyze his contributions to Iranian modern
poetry. To many audiences this film transcends beyond a
mere documentary and enters the realms of national pride
and a celebration of Iranian modern poetry signified by
Other films listed were Dear Cousin is Lost
(Dokhtar Daei Gom Shodeh). Directed by Dariush Mehrjui,
this 37 minute film is in Persian with English subtitles,
and made in 2000. This aesthetically pleasing movie is seen
as a return of Mehrjui to the surreal world.
Ihsanullah Khan Dustar and the Jangali Movement, made in
1925 in Russian with English intertitles, produced in Baku.
Ehsanollah Khan, a jangali leader then in exile, plays his
own part in the film, which is unearthed by professor Touraj
A Few Simple Sentences directed by Reza Allamehzadeh,
made in 1989 ,18 minutes in Dutch with English subtitles.
This simple story of an immigrant boy in the Netherlands
powerfully depicts issues of prejudice in a culturally insensitive
Friendly Persuasion: Iranian Cinema after the Revolution
Directed by Jamsheed Akrami in Persian with English subtitles.
It examines critical issues of Iranian cinema through scene
analysis, commentary, and interviews with top Iranian filmmakers.
Hosay Trinidad is a film about observance of
Muharram in Trinidad.
Directed by John Bishop and Frank Korom this English film
is about Muslims of Indian descent and how they have continued
the custom of making Tadjas (Taziahs) and their commemoration
of Imam Hoseins martyrdom. This film is Presented
by Professor Peter Chelkowski who helped in the film making
Religions in Iran directed by Manouchehr Tayyab
is a documentary about the four major religions of Islam,
Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism in Iran.
-- This article was written for Tavoos Art Quarterly. Visit