Reorient is an online publication that celebrates contemporary Middle Eastern arts and culture, primarily covering visual art, film, literature, and music. The interview responses below are given by the site’s Founder & Editor, Joobin Bekhrad. Alongside his work with Reorient, Bekhrad has contributed to a number of publications including Aesthetica, The Economist, and The Guardian. He has translated a collection of Omar Khayyam’s poems from the original Persian, and recently published his debut novella, Coming Down Again. In 2015, he received an International Award for Art Criticism (IAAC) from the Royal College of Art, London.
Which book would you recommend to our readers?
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.
Which film would you recommend to our readers?
Gheysar, directed by Masoud Kimiai. Without a doubt, the coolest film I’ve ever seen. Watch this, then compare it with Get Carter, released two years later.
Which architectural work would you recommend to our readers?
The Azadi Tower (formerly the Shahyad Tower) in Tehran, designed by Hossein Amanat. Aside from being beautiful, it is also meaningful – it was inspired by ancient Iranian / Zoroastrian architecture.
Which fashion photographs would you recommend to our readers?
Louise Dahl-Wolfe’s photographs of Elizabeth Threatt posing beside Qajar-era Iranian oil paintings, taken in 1951.
The following questions relate to our Perspectives column, in which two writers respond to an artwork that they are experiencing for the first time.
Can children make art?
Of course – I happen to know quite a few who’ve been making a living out of it, too.
Could art end civilisation?
Well, it wasn’t exactly art that brought about the downfall of the Persian and Roman Empires. But bad art can certainly make life miserable.
Is the alphabet a system of oppression?
Well, I certainly thought so as child forced to go to Persian school on Friday nights.
Should artists ever endanger themselves?
Oh, absolutely. I have a list of names for you! Where do I begin…?
States of the Arts
The following questions relate to our States of the Arts column, for which each article includes four artworks that share an association with a single nation or territory.
Which Iranian artwork would you recommend to our readers?
Whispers of the East, a series of photographs by Sadegh Tirafkan. It’s as if he had me in mind while making it. I can hear those whispers in my ears as I write this…
Which Turkish artwork would you recommend to our readers?
Exemplary, a work of video art by CANAN. I’m a sucker for Persian and Ottoman Turkish miniatures, and couldn’t keep my eyes off this when I first saw it at Istanbul Modern some years ago.
The art of discovery
The following questions relate to Silent Frame’s aim to celebrate the art of discovery.
For you, is artistic discovery a private or shared experience, and why?
A private one. I need my own space and time to properly discover and appreciate things. I also don’t like feeling pressured into showing emotion or reactions.
What question would you like to ask other Silent Frame interviewees?
When was the last time you visited Iran? You should go!
Reorient: You can read Reorient here, find their Instagram page here, and follow them on Twitter @reorientmag. You can visit Joobin Bekhrad's site here. Bekhrad has also been interviewed by Artscoops, The Tenth Degree, and Fondation Behnam Bakhtiar.
Today's recommendations: My Uncle Napoleon (excerpt), Gheysar (article on Masoud Kimiai), The Azadi Tower (brief history), Louise Dahl-Wolfe's photos of Elizabeth Threatt (image), Whispers of the East (post on Sadegh Tirafkan), Exemplary (video).