Kashya Hildebrand        
Takeo Adachi Gonzalez Bravo Arturo Denarvaez Herve Desache Susanne Keller Akiko Sato Roman Zaslanov
The Gallery Artists Represented Upcoming Exhibitions Contact Us  
Farhad Moshiri Profile Work Biography  



Farhad Moshidi

Friday, 19 March 2004
Excerpts from an article translated from German into English

Ambiguity is the strongest weapon for artists

Christina Tilmann: Is there an art scene in Iran?
Farhad Moshiri: When I went back to Iran I tried to avoid the art scene if there was any. So many things in Iran were overwhelming that I needed time. I had to get things in perspective. In the last two years a lot has changed. I have had ten exhibitions.

CT: What was so overwhelming that you could not work in Iran?
FM: It was a country that I had my roots in. But it was a culture shock coming from the US, Iranian culture in comparison to Hollywood, is quite complex. What interested me were the new classes that had emerged in that country. A side of Iran that hadn’t before been exposed. The picture that Western media paints of Iran is dark and negative. I am not saying that all of this is wrong, only that I don’t like the one sided portrayal.

CT: How free are you in your choice of subject matter?
FM: As an artist living in Iran, I can’t afford to be too direct. To protect my work and myself I try not to attack political subject matters head on. Therefore, I look at things from an aesthetic viewpoint, the form and shape that is the outcome of a certain behavior.

CT: Have you had a brush with censorship or had any exhibitions shut down?
FM: I used to send a lot of screenplays to the Ministry of Islamic Guidance for approval but all were rejected in a very civilized way. You drop off your work. They say it’s awful. You say thank you and you go home. But you learn a lesson quickly. Either you detach yourself from the system and leave the country or you change. The celebrated Iranian cinema was an outcome of this pressure. They made the best out of the worst. A new language came out of this.

CT: Maybe that explains the success of Abbas Kiarostami and Shirin Neshat. A symbolic language that everyone could relate to.
FM: Ambiguity is the strongest weapon an artist has at their disposal. You can play with the layers of interpretation and avoid getting in trouble.

CT: Have things changed or deteriorated after the last parliamentary elections that strengthened the conservatives?
FM: I haven’t been in Iran since the elections but I don’t think we will see visible changes. Possibly some of the funding will be cut to renovate mosques but most of us artist work with little money so we aren’t really dependent on official or government funding. Also I don’t think you can turn the wheel back anymore. What Khatami did was create a climate of tolerance and democracy that can’t be ignored. Of course artists are being closely watched. Although I haven’t heard of any direct threats or attacks but rather subtle threats, strange phone calls. People politely saying, “Why do you do this?” “You should think twice” Nonetheless we have artists who openly criticize the regime and have been tolerated so far.

CT: Do you expect negative repercussions and a backlash if this exhibition in Berlin creates strong criticism when you go back?
FM: I don’t think so. Not immediately anyway. It would be too risky to look like the bad guy as long as there is public attention on this exhibition. They will probably react coolly and try to ignore it.


Farhad Moshiri