USC Pacific Asia Museum

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Persian Visions:
Contemporary Photography from Iran

June 22, 2007 - September 9, 2007

Mohammad Farnood, Norooz, 2002

On Friday, June 22, 2007, USC Pacific Asia Museum will open Persian Visions: Contemporary Photography from Iran, an exhibition that provides a rare, revealing view of Iranian life with more than 60 photographs by renowned Iranian photographers. Subjects include public life as well as the intimate – such as family life and celebrations. This will be the only West Coast venue for this exhibition.

The twenty artists in the exhibition are among Iran’s most celebrated photographers, all of whom use the medium for cultural expression and self-exploration. Many of the artists are well known throughout Europe where they have extensively exhibited their works. Several of these artists have lived abroad and experienced western culture before returning to Iran to document their own culture. This perspective of life in Iran contradicts the way many foreign photographers use the medium: to represent Iran and its people as purely exotic.

Sadegh Tirafkan, Persepolis

Iran has distinguished itself with the quality and international presence of its film and visual art. Now we can extend our appreciation of Iranian artists with the photographic work of Shokoufeh Alidousti, whose self-portraits and family photographs explore both cultural and female identity. Esmail Abbasi draws on Persian literature for his subject matter and adds contemporary side notes on present circumstances in Iran. And Shahriar Tavakoli focuses on his family history through a series of portraits capturing the mood of an Iranian family with all its subtleties.

Persian Visions will travel to the University of Michigan Museum, the Southeast Museum of Photography in Daytona Beach, the Mulvane Art Museum in Topeka, and the Missoula Museum of Art. Recently it was on view at the Honolulu Academy of Art, the Herbert F. Johnson Museum at Cornell University, and the Art Gallery of the University of Maryland.

Persian Visions was developed by Hamid Severi for the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, Iran, and Gary Hallman of the Regis Center for Art, University of Minnesota, and toured by International Arts & Artists, Washington, D.C. This exhibition was made possible in part by the ILEX Foundation, University of Minnesota McKnight Arts and Humanities Endowment, and the Department of Art, Regis Center for Art, University of Minnesota.

Untitled Revelations 2
Left: Arman Stepanian, Untitled, 2001. Right: Koroush Adim, Revelations 2

This groundbreaking exhibition will be on view through September 9, 2007.

Related Events

Enter our So. Cal. Persian Community Photo Contest [PDF: 72KB, 2pg]. We will be accepting submissions of community photos between July 25 and 31 2007, 9am-6pm. Mailed entries must be received by July 31, 2007.

Thursday, June 21, 6-9pm,
Private, by invitation Members Only Preview for Persian Visions: Contemporary Photography from Iran

Author Event
Saturday, June 23, 2:30pm
Anita Amirrezvani’s The Blood of Flowers opens with a comet streaking across the sky, presaging a year of calamity. This magically told tale captures the life and culture of 17th century Persia from a young woman’s perspective. Free with admission. To R.S.V.P., call 626-449-2742, ext. 20.

Tuesday, July 10, 8pm
Mojtaba Mirtahmasb’s documentaries, Back Vocal and Off Beat, capture the struggles of contemporary Iranian singers and musicians working to be heard in their own country. Back Vocal explores Iran’s prohibition, since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, of female solo singers. Featured singer Mamak Khadem will speak following the film. Off Beat documents the restrictions on rock concerts, and the efforts of fans to hold an on-line contest featuring Tehran’s underground rock bands. This will be Off Beat’s first U.S. screening! Both are subtitled in English, and will be screened under the stars in the courtyard garden. Seating provided, but feel free to bring a beach chair. $6 for members, $10 for non-members. Includes museum admission. To register, call (626) 449-2742, ext. 31. Space is limited.

Saturday, July 14, 1pm
Join Persian Visions co-curator Gary Hallman to learn more about the art, artists, politics, and story behind this bi-national exhibition. Following the presentation, Dr. Hallman will answer questions in the gallery. Free with admission. To R.S.V.P., call (626) 449-2742, ext. 31. Space is limited.

Talk and film screening
Sunday, July 15, 2pm
Over the past 20 years, photographer and filmmaker Abbas Hojatpanah has been documenting Iranian artists now scattered around the world. He will discuss why this subject, so close to his heart, is of such historical importance and what impact it is having on the youth of Iran. He will then screen several of his video portraits. Mr. Hojatpanah’s book, Portraits of Iranian Artists in Exile, will also be available for purchase. Free with admission. To R.S.V.P., call (626) 449-2742, ext. 31. Space is limited.

Thursday, July 26, 8pm
The Fish Fall in Love tells the story of political prisoner Aziz, returning after 25 years to take possession of his family estate only to find his former flame, Atieh, is now running it as a restaurant. Director Ali Rafiee uses the language of food to tell a story of passions over generations. Starring Reza Kianian, Roya Nonahali, Golshifteh Farahani. With English subtitles. $6 for members, $10 for non-members. Includes museum admission. To register, call (626) 449-2742, ext. 31. Space is limited.

Thursday, August 9, 8pm
Led by Artistic Director Shida Pegahi, Ney Nava Dance Theatre has been performing fine Persian classical and contemporary dance since 1994. They will bring their beautifully costumed classic dances to USC Pacific Asia Museum for an evening of timeless beauty. $15 for members, $20 for non-members. Includes museum admission.To register, call (626) 449-2742, ext. 31. Space is limited.

Community Photography Exhibition
Friday thru Sunday, August 10-12
PERSIAN COMMUNITY PHOTOGRAPHERS ANNOUNCED! [PDF: 61KB]. Photos by and of the Southern California Persian community will be displayed in the Foyer Gallery. Free with admission.

Banafsheh Sayyad

Dance: “Body Prayers: Turning & Sufi Ritual”
Saturday, September 8, 2pm
Internationally acclaimed dancer, choreographer and pioneer in contemporary mystical Persian dance, Banafsheh Sayyad will perform, then present a guided session in Sufi turning. The performance serves as a gateway to the ancient tradition of turning, and Sayaad’s teaching techniques allow people of all experience levels to turn for a sustained period with ease. Come in comfortable clothing, and take part in this informal closing ceremony. $15 for members, $20 for non-members. Includes museum admission. To register, call (626) 449-2742, ext. 31. Space is limited.