By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Iran-Rio Art Connection will begin on September 1st, when four young contemporary Iranian artists; Shadi Ghadirian, Farnaz Jahanbin, Amin Aghaei and Ali Zanjani will start a month-long residency at the Largo Das Artes in Centro. During the month, there will be various events open to the public including, workshops, panel discussions, a Persian classical music concert, and an exhibition of the artists’ work at the end of the month.
Held to promote cross-cultural networking and intercultural understanding by providing participants a space to freely express themselves through art and dialogue, the project is supported by grants from the Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development.
Brazilians and those visiting or living in the city will be introduced to the artists and the artists, in turn, will be introduced to the Rio art scene, a scene which from September 10th through the 14th, also will be hosting the most important art industry event in Latin America, the international contemporary art fair ArtRio.
For the Iran-Rio Art Connection, a panel of leading Brazilian artists and curators including; co-curator of the Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro (MAM), Marta Mestre, co-director of the Largo das Artes, Miguel Sayad and well-known Brazilian contemporary artist, Ernesto Neto, hand-picked two of the artists; Amin Aghaei and Ali Zanjani.
Born in 1986, after the Islamic Revolution of 1979, Zanjani is a photographer, who depicts the political and social changes that Iran has endured during the last 35 years. Well known works by Zanjani include portraits of Iranian artists at work, photos of Iranian wrestling, and a series a pre-revolution women’s basketball team.
The photos from the Iranian Women Basketball Knockout Tournament feature women pictured without hijabs covering their hair, an act that is currently forbidden in present day Iran. “The charms of these photos were because they were new to me,” Zanjani writes in his portfolio about the photos originally taken by his father for local newspapers and manipulated by him for the exhibition. “Until then I had not seen Iranian women in professional sports in any of the media. Before the revolution, women’s sport had been published in media. But since the revolution, just the results have been announced publicly.”
Amin Aghaei, also born after the Islamic Revolution, in 1982, is an artist who paints and draws human characters in various situations to add humor to the political repression in Iran. Due to the Iran-Iraq war, which lasted from 1980 to 1988, Aghaei drifted from home to home with his family, without a stable residence during his childhood.
It was then that he first began to draw to help pass time and to express his critical thoughts about the experience. Aghaei would continue to draw and would eventually begin painting magic realism works that examine the social and political challenges in Iran. Aghaei also creates video art and sculptures.
Photographer Shadi Ghadirian is the third artist who will participate in the project. Born in 1974 and having earned her B.A. in Photography from Azad University, Tehran, Iran, Ghadirian is known for depicting Iranian woman’s place or perceived place in present society. She often juxtaposes bits of modern Western life with traditional Iranian culture in the women’s portraits.
In her series entitled, Like Every Day, woman are pictured dressed in patterned fabric, instead of a typical chador, with kitchenware, irons, and cleaning utensils and other items that represent daily household chores in place in the women’s faces. In an earlier series of work entitled, Qajar, Ghadirian photographed women in her studio, adding to the shots pieces of modern culture including, a boombox, a Pepsi Can, sunglasses and bikes.
Artist and singer Farnaz Jahanbin will be the fourth resident of the project. Jahanbin is known for her paintings that turn abstracted Persian and Arabic script into works of art. Additionally, Jahanbin is a Persian classical music singer and will perform a concert live during her residency. It will be a special performance, as Islam law in Iran prohibits men to hear women singing in public, but in Rio during her performance, the crowd will consist of both sexes.
To learn more about the Iran-Rio Art Connection and the schedule of events, see the Largo Das Artes website.