Unedited History – Iran 1960-2014

Exhibition runs to: 23rd March.

Opening times: Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sun 11am – 7pm Sat 11am-10pm

Address: Via Guido Reni, 4/a, Rome

Wesbite: http://www.fondazionemaxxi.it/ ______________________________________________________________________________________

The MAXXI contemporary museum in Rome is currently holding an exhibition, entitled ‘The Unedited History of Iran’. It is displaying over 200 works by 20 artists and takes you through several chronological chapters of Iranian history. The exhibition attempts to recreate significant events that have taken place over the past fifty years in Iran, from the Revolution to the start of the Islamic Republic. The exhibition shows the artistic life of Iran during these periods with all of these chapters of history having shaped or impeded the development of modern Iranian art and culture. The exhibition holds an impressive display of photographs, videos, caricatures, journals, paintings and much more.

The exhibition begins in the 1960s of Iran, where there was a push for cultural modernisation. This was my favourite part of the exhibition which showed a tribute to the Shiraz-Persepolis Festival of Arts, which ran from 1967 to 1977. It is this festival which spurred the Iranian art scene. You can see videos, posters and photographs from the festival itself. Having visited Shiraz and Persepolis recently, it was so interesting to see another creative side to what was once existent in these places.

The second part of the exhibition refers to the 1979 Revolution and the Iran-Iraq war that took place between 1980 and 1988. This part of the exhibition finishes by displaying contemporary perspectives of artists born during the seventies and eighties. This section is in great contrast to the previous more cultural display of art and music.

Within the entire exhibition, you really see an alternative artistic side to Iran. With work from contemporary artists such as new-wave film director Parviz Kimiavi and the Mohasses brothers, you see some powerful modern art here. One of the Mohasses brothers, Bahram, was described as the ‘Persian Picasso’ and presents a large part of the exhibition at the MAXXI. He lived and worked in Rome, where many exiles fled to, and he would cut and paste images from Italian lifestyle magazines to create his artwork.

Behdjat Sadar, one of the first female artists to appear on the art scene in the sixties in Iran, displays her well-known abstract geometric artwork. Each pattern of hers is scraped across a sheet of aluminium with a palette knife, with the twists and curves of the piece slowly undulating.

There is also photography from Kaveh Golestan. His pictures from 1979 showcase life within the New City, which was Tehran’s former red light district. The photography is so gripping and his pieces were the most moving I found. The area was burned down after the Revolution and the sad end of this part of Tehran is presented through cuttings from the Ayandegan newspaper. The national news of the time used Golestan’s photographs as unflinching portraits of those who would once be in the bedrooms.

The images shown in the exhibition are so powerful and telling, so do not miss out on the opportunity to go to the MAXXI. It also proves that the Revolution did not suppress Iran’s artistic modernism. If you are in Rome, it should definitely be on your list of things to see. I was pleasantly surprised by the unique display of artwork on show. A must for those interested in a more diverse perspective of Iranian history and art.

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