If you’re wondering why I went to Tehran, read this. So, after my initial blues, I met with a couple of young artists. I had contacted them through a friend and they had invited me to give a talk in their apartment, which they use for discussions, lectures, screenings, etc. They wouldn’t give me the address but picked me up at a designated location, so I’d better not give any names at all. It was such a great evening! A group of about 30 people gathered, I explained my ideas on art in public space, where they came from historically, and what I have learned from artists, artworks, and the public. We discussed how little was possible in Tehran since the public space is under heavy surveillance and that only private apartments offer suitable space for these kinds of experiences. When I tried to show them a film about an event on YouTube, it was blocked by the censors (see screenshot below).
The next day I visited the Film Museum of Iran. Being an admirer of Abbas Kiarostami, Asghar Farhadi, and Jafar Panahi’s banned film “This Is Not a Film” (see also Cinema of the World), I wanted to see the museum and find out if these filmmakers were still a part of it or if they had been censored. Thankfully, they were still very much present, and the museum offered good insight into the history of Iranian cinema and culture. In the evening, I had a memorable discussion with a young philosopher I’d met the night before. The next day, I visited galleries, saw a mini-retrospective of Ghassem Hajizadeh, and spent my evening at the apartment where the hosts showed recent short films by young filmmakers. All of this was very rewarding since it became clear that contemporary art and film means a great deal to them, and that the apartments are an active space for freedom, knowledge, debate, and experience. You know, these kinds of spaces have always meant the same for me, but sometimes, looking around, I wonder if I am just living an old-fashioned and romantic dream. Ha!