(On the occasion of Parvaneh Etemadi's New Exhibition in Golestan Gallery, Tehran)
Once upon a time, there is a Parvaneh Etemadi, who after getting tired of playing with colour pencils, painting beautiful roses and narcissuses and red juicy pomegranates and knitting gorgeous termeh-s (cashmeres) and fantastic laces and magnificent fabrics started to play with colored papers. And since she lived in a country where outside was dark and gloomy with the smell of revolution and war and autocracy and hypocrisy and conspiracy that made her feel like an outsider, she decided to go and hide in the basement of her house and in order not to go crazy due to what was happening outside, she decided to make her own world.
What sort of world did she like to create? Naturally, something opposite to that dark, cold gloomy air outside! And as she was deeply affected by the death of all those young men in the war fronts who never savored the sweet taste of love, and she was shaken by the mourning sights of those mothers who lost their beloved sons and those fathers who never saw the wedding of their daughters and those women who had to bring up their father-less children all alone, she started to cut all those beautiful termeh-s and laces to pieces and made the most fanciful wedding dresses and suits and trousseaus out of them. And she made men and women out of those garments who performed the roles they usually play in fairy tales. Thus she made them to fall in love, dance and get married and celebrate without being scared to get caught by the revolutionary guards and suffer the most humiliating insults and punishments and fines and charges. And as the country was bankrupt because of that absurd eight years war with Iraq and mismanagements and the sanctions US and European states had imposed on her, masses were getting poorer and poorer everyday, so she prepared the most royal trousseaus for her imaginary brides.
And in order not to get caught for carrying out such irreligious ceremonies, she herself issued the verdict of beheading those outrageous Dionysian men and women. Such an ingenious idea! Outside, women were forbidden to show their hairs because according to the ruling clergies and their western educated intellectual supporters who needed to make all those obsolete, outdated beliefs and ideas appear scientific and modern, their hairs emit man-seducing particles and rays! So let's behead them. They still can manifest their womanhood in the folds of their fanciful lacy and colorful garments. And as dance and celebration was also a sin, so let's behead men too. Then they could dance the most intimate Tangos without trembling out of fear what if the gangs of hardliners condemn them (and her) to heresy.
In fact this was a kind of allopathic therapy that she used for herself. After all she was the daughter of a competent physician. According to this system of treatment, we should use the opposite of what is causing our dis-ease. Her dis-ease was the national dis-ease of suppression and oppression and hypocrisy and conspiracy and in-humanness. And her playful, joyous celebrating Paper Dancers, so full of love and intimacy and trust were just opposite to what was going on outside.
Then came September 11 and the so-called international war against Terrorism and US attack on Afghanistan, and just before the onset of the feast of spring came the invasion of Iraq. Iran was going to be the next country of the axis of evil to be dealt with. Naturally the outside became darker, gloomier. The feeling of depression, insecurity, despair, and impotence now seemed beyond human endurance. Allopathic therapy no longer seemed efficient. The dose of anti-depressant and anti-anxiety drugs necessary here would surely be toxic. So she appealed to another therapeutic system of medicine, Homeopathy that treats dis-eases by using medicines similar to the causing pathologic factors.
Once upon a time, there is a Parvaneh Etemadi, who in order to survive that devilish era of human history took a photograph of the head sculptor of a Seleucid officer [found in the Museum of Iran Baastaan (Ancient Iran) in Tehran] and cut it into pieces and used these pieces to give birth to a world inhabited by strange almost unearthly animals, scary Adam and Eve like creatures with faces like Egyptian Sphinx, dressed in brown, yet transparent Greek like armors with snakes as their pets and sharp objects such as scissors, spears and... as their working tools, and pomegranate as their Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and their dishes although set on tables covered with colorful Persian Termeh-s and Sofreh-s (table cloths), but filled with human like ears; in one word one of the most scary worlds that a sensitive human being can imagine. Even the moon has darkened and instead of her usual white soothing light has transformed to a cold metallic dark crescent. How absolutely artfully she has reflected this outside world of insecurity, ugliness, cruelty, fearfulness in her painting -collage- sculptors! How magical!
Parvaneh means butterfly in Persian. Hopefully this new exhibition is also an announcement of the end of these past twenty five years of her pupa life. And soon we will see her breaking through these protective silk armors, flying out as a beautiful butterfly showing us a more hopeful, compassionate, joyous world full of light and humanness.
1. Her last exhibition held in Niyavaran Farhangsara about four years ago was called The Trousseau of the Daughter of the King of Fairies and Paper Dancers.
... Payvand News - 3/8/04 ... --