The name Googoosh is pop cultural catnip to people across Western and Central Asia, and her latest video “بهشت” (Behesht or Heaven), which was released on Valentine’s Day, may be the first explicit reference to lesbianism in mainstream Iranian pop culture.
Asia Society’s Iran Modern is a must-see exploration of a period little known in the West but infinitely interesting for its non-Western responses to modernity, its embrace of the developing world, the prevalence of prominent female artists at a time when the same wasn’t true most elsewhere, and its pushing of boundaries in an era where its experiments in culture could be seen as cutting edge.
There was a time, some four years ago, when Iran held the world’s attention. Protests began there in June 2009, after the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in what many claimed was a rigged vote. A graphic video of the death of a young woman named Neda Agha-Soltan, who was shot by a member of the Basij militia, became an international focal point and symbol. But time passed, the protests were violently crushed, Ahmadinejad stayed in power, and then other countries began to erupt with dissent. Most of the world — or at least, the media — moved on.
LOS ANGELES — Last year, Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi was sentenced to six years in prison for “propaganda against the state.” In addition to the prison sentence, he was banned from making films for twenty years. But his latest film is shot entirely on iPhones.
This week, how a Caravaggio becomes “discovered” and evaluated, Christo gets the green light for Colorado, artists who seek out their harshest critics, Terence Conran, erasing a Chris Martin, escaping the digital world, Occupy Miami art schools, street art in Iran and is politics performance art?
I encountered Dread Scott’s curious flag project, “Flags Are Very Popular These Days” (2011), on Facebook and was fascinated by its simplicity. Last month, the artist placed the flags of four nations (Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Pakistan) on overpasses in upstate New York. These symbols of pride for four Muslim-majority countries— two of which America is currently (and officially) at war with — must have felt jarring to passersby who may not have been able to recognize their meaning or discerned their origins.
In what can only be seen as a sign of the coming apocalypse, the Iranian government has proven itself to be too futuristic and modern for the citizens of London’s South Kensington neighborhood. Critics of the building are even appealing to Prince “I hate modern architecture” Charles to help their case.