States of the Arts



by Simin Keramati
Drawings, paintings, video art

View an image of one artwork from the series →

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

The Wind Will Carry Us

directed by Abbas Kiarostami
Feature 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

Chicken with Plums

by Marjane Satrapi
Graphic novel

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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

The Baluch

by Mehdi Hosseini

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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

More to discover

Insomnia: You can view a gallery of artworks from the series on Simin Keramati's website here, and read more about the project here. Another of the artist's works, 'Make Up', was featured in an online gallery of Iranian artworks by The Guardian.

The Wind Will Carry Us: You can watch the re-release trailer here, and see an excerpt here. David Sterritt has interviewed Abbas Kiarostami for Film Comment, as have Patrick Z. McGavin for IndieWire, and Peter Lennon for The Guardian.

Chicken with Plums: Joobin Bekhrad has interviewed Marjane Satrapi for Reorient, Michael Cavna for The Washington Post, Simon Hattenstone for The Guardian, Robert Chalmers for The Independent, and John Zuarino for Bookslut.

The Baluch: You 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.

Question of the day

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 →)

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