Column: States of the Arts

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Insomnia
by Simin Keramati
Drawings, paintings, video art

View an image of one artwork from the series

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Simin Keramati’s Insomnia project comprises a series of paintings, video art, and drawings, all constructed to convey a sense of restlessness. Brushstrokes drench canvases in throbbing colours; filmic frames move in woozy black and white. The works for the page offer greater clarity, their fine lines never distracting from the subjects’ torment. Blankets are wrapped around slumped or writhing bodies, faces obscured. Fingers run through hair; hands rest on foreheads. Viewers may see themselves under the covers, tossing and turning in a state of frustrating limbo.

Words by John Wadsworth

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More to discoverYou can view a gallery of artworks from the Insomnia series on Simin Keramati's official website here, and read an essay about the project by Dr. Hamid Keshmirshekan here, translated by Helia Darabi. Another of the artist's works, 'Make Up', was featured in an online gallery of Iranian artworks by The Guardian.

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The Wind Will Carry Us
directed by Abbas Kiarostami
Feature film

View a still from the film

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We see a car chugging along a winding, seemingly endless track, dwarfed by a basin of swooping hills. Driver and passenger amiably disagree on navigation, and eventually the vehicle breaks down. The camera watches from an incline above the road, adopting the perspective of a silent bird of prey, or that of the landscape itself. The travellers’ destination is a Kurdish village, where their stay proves longer than expected. As they settle, the binaries at the film’s centre – life and death, technology and tradition, urban and pastoral – are scattered by the dusts and breezes of rural Iran.

Words by Elizabeth Brown

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More to discoverYou can watch the re-release trailer of The Wind Will Carry Us here, and see an excerpt from the film here. There are many interviews with Abbas Kiarostami available online, including those conducted by David Sterritt for Film Comment, Patrick Z. McGavin for IndieWire, and Peter Lennon for The Guardian.

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Chicken with Plums
by Marjane Satrapi
Graphic novel

View the book cover

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Tehran, 1958. Nasser Ali Khan, a renowned Iranian musician, grieves the loss of his tar, or at least, his tar as he knew and loved it. Worn and damaged, the instrument no longer produces the sound or joy that it once did. Marjane Satrapi’s biographical graphic novel leads us through the days that follow, as Nasser, the author’s great-uncle, delves deeper into his own misery. The journey is an emotional one, but the narrative is fast-paced and the action vivid. The illustrative panels frame Satrapi’s punchy dialogue, as she mixes the melancholy with dry humour.

Words by Sophia Martin-Pavlou

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More to discover: There are many interviews with Marjane Satrapi available online, including those conducted by Emma Watson for Vogue, Joobin Bekhrad for Reorient, Michael Cavna for The Washington Post, Simon Hattenstone for The Guardian, Robert Chalmers for The Independent, and John Zuarino for Bookslut.

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The Baluch
by Mehdi Hosseini
Composition

View an image of the musician

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Composer Mehdi Hosseini draws from the folk music of Persian ethnic groups, including those rarely heard, in hope that his works will inspire ‘openness to the plight of others’. The Baluch shares its title with a people who inhabit a region in the Iranian Plateau. Its first movement, ‘Liku Dalgani’, evokes the arid Balochistan landscape, the alto flute’s repeated notes wafting above the heavy sand of a near-static chordal undertow. In ‘Kalampour’, material is lifted and developed in collage, the fruits of Hosseini’s classical conservatoire education pushing to the surface.

Words by John Wadsworth

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More to discoverYou can listen to an excerpt from The Baluch here, find a biography of Mehdi Hosseini here, and read an article on the composer by Kremena Krumova for The Epoch Times.

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Today's question: Which Iranian artworks would you recommend, and why? Let us know on Facebook, Patreon, or Twitter.

Close-Up, a film directed by Abbas Kiarostami. A tabloid-content, real-life story of identity theft becomes a complex film choosing ethics over morality, and forgiveness over judgement. ()

– Cristina Álvarez López, film critic (via The Brief )

My Uncle Napoleon by Iraj Pezeshkzad. No other novel comes close to capturing the essence and dynamics of the modern Iranian family. To read it is to know Iran. ()

– Joobin Bekhrad, Founder & Editor of Reorient (via The Brief )

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, a film directed by Ana Lily Amirpour. Iran's first vampire Western romance; its skateboarding, chador-clad protagonist navigates the moody monochrome of Bad City in style.

– John Wadsworth, Silent Frame's Editor-in-Chief