JULY 2007


Harvard Shows Iranian Political Art

May 18, 2007, Cambridge, MA -- TMO attended the opening reception of a photo exhibit entitled "Walls of Martyrdom: Tehran's Propaganda Murals" at Harvard University. To show the power of imagery in Iranian culture, Fontini Christia displayed photographs of Tehran's public murals in an exhibit designed by Ghazal Abbasy Asbagh.

Asbagh's husband Alireza Korangy participated in the panel,
"Murals and Martyrdom in the Islamic Republic of Iran."

Asbagh and Korangy stand  in front of Teheran Mural in the CGIS South concourse at 1730 Cambridge St., Cambridge, MA.

Another panel, "A Comparative Perspective of Martyrdom and Propaganda Art in Iraq, Lebanon, and the Palestinian Territories" followed.

The program claims, "The exhibit's primary objective is to document and present images that are part of the daily urban experience in Tehran…the exhibit also aspires to debate and deconstruct…the extent to which they express revolutionary fervor and religious fundamentalism or merely the regime's anxieties and insecurities."

Some felt the art expresses Iran's "death culture." Yet others found that the smiling martyr murals clearly celebrate transcendence, like the American "Give me liberty or give me death."

"Martyrdom is the legacy of the Prophet," an Islamic pieta, depicts the veiled Prophet Mohammed mourning over a young martyr.

A young volunteer in the Iran-Iraq war is pictured in a field of flowers stretching into the horizon.

Iranians remember their war heroes as beautiful souls. American war heroes are memorialized with white crosses, but seldom remembered so personally.

A Palestinian female martyr is honored with a quote, "God knows I love my children, but I love martyrdom more." The inscription reads: "22 year old Palestinian woman, Rima Saleh Ariashi, mother of two children, who sought martyrdom in 2004 in occupied Palestine that resulted in the death of four Zionists."

One mural demonstrates the threat of satellite TV. A hand reaches out from a satellite dish with a match to burn Iranian culture, which is represented by stylized flowers, as one might see in a traditional mosque.

Exhibit designer Asbagh agreed that the some of the murals have some similarity to Soviet realist posters. She said, "I am happy to bring a little of the real Tehran to the USA."

She has long noticed a major disconnect between the reality of Iran and the coverage of Iran in the US media. She hopes that this exhibit can help Americans to get to know Iranians as people. 

Asbagh mentioned that the Iranian encounter with Americans can prove disappointing because Americans tend to know so little about the world in general.

Posted By Joachim Martillo 5/23/2007 07:52:00 PM
[EAAZI] Iranian Murals Resistance, Hope, Transcendance
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