Age: 55 |
Birth City: آبادان |
Joined on October 02, 2012
Museum to display works by Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, who gained international acclaim during years of exile
The Guardian: Iran has opened its first museum dedicated to a solo female artist – Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, who has received widespread international attention during decades of exile.
The nonagenarian doyenne of Iranian art and friend of Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning, had her first US solo museum exhibition at the Guggenheim in New York in 2015.
On Friday, the Monir Museum opened in Tehran at the historic Negarestan park gardens. It displays 51 works, including her signature mirror mosaics, abstract monotypes and reverse glass paintings, inspired by geometric patterns germane to ancient Iranian architecture, particularly those seen in mosques.
Many of Farmanfarmaian’s works were confiscated and destroyed after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. She spent most of her career in the US, only permanently returning in 2004.
All the pieces on display in the museum have recently been donated by Farmanfarmaian to its permanent collection, which is managed by Tehran University.
“All my inspiration has come from Iran – it has always been my first love,” Farmanfarmaian told the Guardian from Tehran on the eve of the opening. “When I travelled the deserts and the mountains, throughout my younger years, all that I saw and felt is now reflected in my art.”
Farmanfarmaian said she gifted her works because she wanted to honour her last husband, Abolbashar Farmanfarmaian. “[He] was a law professor at the University of Tehran, and so I gifted them 51 pieces – this museum is now the first for a female artist in Iran,” she said.
Her works, some of which have been acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Tate Modern, combine complex geometric patterns seen in traditional Persian art with western modern abstraction and expressionism >>>
These plants get their nutrients from trapping and consuming flesh of insects.
Graduated with bachelor’s degree in industrial mathematics from the University of Sharif, his business is a far cry from math, which suggests an imagination well beyond mathematics.
This true business idea man, now 25, grew up in the flourishing city of Karaj, about an hour from the capital, Tehran.
About seven years ago, Esfahani, who was 18 years old at the time, visited a charity bazaar in Tehran where he stumbled across insectivorous plants. The precocious teenager had always been intrigued by the nature’s strange and outlandish creatures and hence was compelled to purchase a number of these florae, along with their seeds to cultivate at home.
Much to his chagrin, the seeds failed to germinate, but he remained fascinated by carnivorous plants when he travelled to Australia to visit his sister.
As fate would have it, he had picked the right time to be in Melbourne where flowers were in full bloom.
This true business idea man walked into a plant shop and found himself surrounded by the intriguing carnivorous florae he had come across in Tehran, and consequently, acquired a number of them, along with their seeds in hope of growing them in Iran.
Once he was able to get them past customs at Tehran’s international airport, which adheres to strict guidelines as to what is imported to the Islamic state, he was determined to succeed in fostering the growth of these precious plants.
Esfahani noted that the plants were very delicate and required constant care and nurturing. They appeared to be sensitive to very low humidity and high temperatures. However, over time he learned the ins and outs of proper care and later acquired the skills to grow his own collection and offer them for sale.
Eventually, the idea to open his own business entered his mind.
Esfahani, who is also a Persian classical music vocalist, was mocked and discouraged by his peers, but the negative reception he received from his friends did not deter him. He moved ahead with the plan to launch a business with a close friend, Sina Meysami, who is also a composer and musician.
One must wonder if the bizarre flesh eating plants he sells might also sing to lure their insect prey in to their traps!
The partners decided to generate revenue through the sale of these plants in order to pursue their passion, that being music.
Esfahani confessed they had no idea how to begin the business, but one thing he was sure about:
“I knew in my heart we would have good sales even though we didn’t really know what we were doing.”
In the last quarter of 2014, operating from the basement of his parent’s house, the entrepreneur managed to make a good profit in sales: “One customer ordered 2 million tomans ($500) of the plants in a single order,” said Esfahani >>>
Boochani travelled through south-east Asia and then by boat to Christmas Island, an Australian territory closer to Indonesia. From there he was deported to Manus Island, a remote part of Papua New Guinea (PNG), where he has been held ever since.
Triggered by outcries over people smuggling, contentious arrivals and boat sinkings, Australia’s policy – developed by both rightwing Coalition and Labor governments – is that while it will admit refugees, it will not take any that come by sea. “It is not because they are bad people,” the Australian prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, told Donald Trump in a leaked phone call. “It is because, in order to stop people smugglers, we had to deprive them of the product. So we said, if you try to come to Australia by boat, even if we think you are the best person in the world, even if you are a Nobel prize-winning genius, we will not let you in.”
The human cost is nearly 2,000 people detained on Manus and the tiny island nation of Nauru. Most have been formally recognised as refugees, but live either in processing centres or in the community, unable to leave the islands. The cruelty is largely tolerated, indeed embraced, by politicians in Canberra because it is seen as a deterrent. But detention is expensive – A$10bn (£5.6bn) since 2013 – and many experts believe the naval policing operation in the Pacific has had more of an impact. The UN, doctors, human rights groups and reporting by media including the Guardian have made detention a public relations problem.
Australian journalists have largely been barred from Manus and Nauru, and since he began contributing to the Guardian in 2016, Boochani has offered the most visible, trusted testimony. This year he was honoured with an Amnesty International award. The film Chauka, Please Tell Us the Time was shot inside the Manus centre on a mobile phone by Boochani and shown at the London and Sydney film festivals. He is writing an autobiographical novel.
As the Australian and PNG authorities stepped up their plan to disperse the refugees from Manus into smaller, less secure accommodation by 31 October, Guardian Australia asked Boochani to keep a diary alongside his opinion articles; extracts from both are published here. Boochani’s English is good but his writing is translated from Farsi by Omid Tofighian from Sydney University. Boochani has limited access to email and electricity. Sometimes he is simply too hungry to file.
“His courage over the four years of his internment in the face of the horror of Manus – a hell of repression, cruelty and violence – has been of the highest order,” the Booker-prize-winning Australian writer Richard Flanagan wrote last month. “Behrouz Boochani kept on smuggling out his messages of despair in the hope we would listen. It’s time we did.”
Will Woodward, deputy editor, Guardian Australia