Arts at the Third Biennial Conference on Iranian Studies Program

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 Committee’s 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 were:
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 panel’s 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.
FilmFest 2000
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 it’s 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 Mr. Shamlou.
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 Atabaki.
“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 environment.
“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 (Ta’ziahs) and their commemoration of Imam Hosein’s martyrdom. This film is Presented by Professor Peter Chelkowski who helped in the film making process.
“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 the website