By Saira Ansari, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Iranian art has been able to bridge the wide chasm between Iran and the rest of the world in a way that its foreign policy has struggled to achieve. A current exhibition of contemporary Iranian art, featured at the moment at Oi Futuro cultural center in Flamengo, attempts to do just this. Pulso Iraniano (Iranian Pulse) was inaugurated on September 13th and will continue until October 30th, 2011.
Comprised mainly of video and photography works, Iranian Pulse was first designed for the Biennale in Brasília in November 2010 by the curator Marc Pottier. It’s the first showing of the exhibition in Rio, and there are plans to take it to other major Brazilian cities soon after.
As the title suggests, the works attempt to lay a finger on the pulse of the current dynamics of Iranian culture. The exhibit offers deep insight into the socio-political culture of the region, depicting scenes from people’s homes, political rallies and even religious rituals.
Works are divided into the titled themes of Poetry, Spirit of Celebration, Women, and War and Traditions, but one does not have to be aware of the theme to understand the content.
Amongst the artists on display, there are several individuals who have created a big name for themselves internationally and have achieved celebrity status in the art world. One such artist is Shirin Neshat, who now resides in the U.S. Neshat’s images have often been the subject of great controversy, which is perhaps what has made her the face of contemporary Iranian art – one that challenges conventions and tackles issues head-on.
A wide range of photographs, video art, animations, installations, sound pieces, fiction films and photocollages offer a deeper view into Iran, trying to break through many of the stereotypes and misconceptions that associated with it.
Photographs of fashionable Iranian girls by Shirin Aliabadi cast a very interesting look at the modern society, although they are cleverly titled the ‘Miss Hybrid’ Series.
At the same time, the exhibition doesn’t attempt to cover up Iran’s issues. A documentary film looks at censorship towards Iranian art in the public sphere, while other works look at the effects of war and conflict on the social fabric.
The burqa (whole-body covering garment) is a common sight in most of the works, though not always used as the sign of oppression it has often come to be seen in the Western world. In most of the works, the connotations tend to be more cultural.
Although Iranian culture is generally alien to Brazilians, it was obvious that the audience could connect at a human level with the artists, as many walked through the halls in a hushed awe.
One visitor commented, “I might not understand the language, but I can feel what the artist is trying to portray here. And it is a very extraordinary feeling to be able to do so.”
The impact of the work is intense and many times shocking, the effects of which resonate long after one has left the building. A truly fantastic and well put together show that must not be missed, visit the web site for more detail.
The show is open until October 30th, 2011, 11AM to 8PM, Tuesdays – Sundays at Oi Futuro on Rua Dois de Dezembro, 63 in Flamengo.