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Dream of Peace in Persian Gulf: 15th Environmental Art Festival in Iran at the Persian Gulf   (January 2008)


Report by Ahmad Nadalian, Paradise International Environmental Art Center
Photos by Raheleh Zomorodinia,
 Mithra Soltani,  Mohamad Saybani and Ahmad Nadalian. 

Thanks to Mohamd Saybani, Mohammad Banoj, Tarta Ghodarzi, Raheleh Zomorodinia,  Atefeh Khas,  Mahmood Maktabi, Shahrnaz Zarkesh and   Zahra Shafiabadi.

This festival had no sponsor.  The young artists paid for the cost of their trip, food, and supplies they needed to create their art works.

In the past two years there has been a great demand for environmental art in Iran. Many young artists from different parts of Iran invite me to be part of different environmental events and realize their art works in nature.  They are many and I can not have all of them in one occasion, but I have been pleased to organize different events and respond to this essential need of our society. Environmental art is the art of the future.  We can learn how to behave with nature. I wish in the future we could have one environmental art event per day. 

Last month (December 2007) we held an environmental art festival in the Persian Gulf.


For the occasion of this festival, my American friend Barbara Roux sent her new poem.  I suggested printing her poem on paper and role them, put them inside of plastic bottles available on the coast and leave them in the water of the sea.

Map of Hormoz and locations of works


On the 26th of January 2008, fifty artists accompanied me and we traveled to the Persian Gulf (Hormoz Island). More than 50 local artists joined us and we realized a new environmental art event. I was responsible to select artists and act as an art director.  So far, I was responsible for 15 environmental art festivals in Iran.  There were many more event and projects.

Our new environmental art festival focused on a campaign against war.  Thanks go to my international friends Barbara Roux and Abigail Doan from the USA, Sibyll Kalff from Germany, who support us, share their experience and sent their designs.  Works by Eric Van Hove and Richard Thomas inspired us to create typography and pattern in nature.  British artist Benjamin Hewett, who is now in Iran, joined involved collaborative art projects with us. 


A design suggested by my American artist friend, Abigail Doan.
I used local red earth pigment to paint her 'swallows' image on the rocks of Hormoz.


For me, the idea of having international artists participate or contribute is very important and symbolically could show the willingness and desire of world nations to work together towards peace.

During the festival the artists who presented in Hormoz Island used stones and wrote this statement: "PEACE IN THE PERSIAN GULF".  We used Google Earth and chose the location of this works. We hope when Google updates its pictorial map, people around the world can read and see our wish.   More

During the three last decades we always witnessed wars in the Middle East. In 1981 Iraq with the leadership of Saddam Houssen attacked my country.  During the war Sadam Hussein's army used chemical weapon against Iranian and his own people in cities such as Halabja. This war resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths and casualties. 



Then in 1991 his army attacked Kuwait which followed a war. The Persian Gulf War (2 August 1990 - 28 February 1991) was a conflict between Iraq and a coalition force from 34 nations authorized by the United Nations (UN) and led primarily by the United States in order to liberate Kuwait.  Finally in 2003 USA and its allies attacked Iraq.  

It is hard to believe that Americans and their western allies can establish democracy through war.  It seems that these wars are more related to oil. Geo-strategically, the narrow and shallow Strait of Hormuz is a global checkpoint." Oil tankers of this region must pass through the Strait.   We chose Hormoz Island in the Persian Gulf, because the Strait of Hormuz in Persian Gulf is a gate for all armies and navies who transported war equipment.


The location of work in Google Earth

The war is going on and usually innocent people pay the price.  During these wars million of innocent people lost their lives. As a result of the militarization of the Persian Gulf we witnessed the death and suffering of millions of human beings and loss of living creatures. 

My American friend Barbara Roux who professionally focused on environmental art suggested the design of birds.  We were inspired by her thought and printed many birds on the beach.   More



For the occasion of this festival she also sent her new poem as follows:

Escape of the Flower Bird 

Many days the small bird flew,
mute from the shock of the noise
and smell of fire.
His shadow caste a dark image
of planes of war.
Weak and hungry, he eyed
a field below and a carpet
of blue flowers.
At the edge of the field
he took refuge in a wood.
Here under cover of trees
he found his place to sleep
and dream of the fragrance
of peace.

Barbara Roux 2007



She presented this poem for the first time.  I suggested printing her poem on paper and role them, put them inside of plastic bottles available on the coast and leave them in the water of the sea. 

Through collaboration, the students assisted me to copy and prepare. Young artists, Mithra Soltani and Hesam Al din Mohamadian left the bottles, which contained Roux's poem in the water of the Persian Gulf. Maybe one day people can find and feel our common dream.


My other American friends Abigail Doan who professionally creates environmental art suggested and sent a design of two swallows. I used local red earth to paint her suggested design on the rock of Hormoz.

British environmental artist and sculpture Benjamin Huutt who is now in Iran himself presented in our festival and carved the evil of war on the rock.  He also helped young artists to design text in large scale.

In many occasions, mostly during the night, we had performances and dances related to local ritual.   More


Collaborative work by Tarta Ghodarzi,  Atefeh Khas,  Raheleh Zomorodinia, Behrang Abasspour,  Hassan Daryapeima,  Hesam Al din Mohamadian, Mithra Soltani, Ahmad Nadalian,  and artists who made audio
Photo by Raheleh Zomorodinia


Installation by Ahmad Kargaran and Performance by local  Artist
Photo by Raheleh Zomorodini

Young artists also depicted patterns of living creatures that lost their life due to pollution, which was caused by war.  


Collabrative works by  Zohreh Riyahi, Zohreh Deldadeh
Photo by Raheleh Zomorodinia


Collaborative work by Tarta Ghodarzi,  Atefeh Khas,  Zahra Shafiabadi, Mahmood MAktabi, Shahrnaz Zarkesh and Raheleh Zomorodinia


Zohreh Deldadeh



During these wars a million gallons of oil released into the Persian Gulf causing the largest oil spill in history. Only in one occasion amount of oil released was categorized as 20 times larger than the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska and twice as large as the previous world record oil spill. Now at least more than 80 ships were sunk to the bottom of the Persian Gulf during the Gulf War, many of which carried oil and munitions.

In 1999, some 400 to 500 tons of fish died in the Persian Gulf, a problem traced to a lack of oxygen in the water and the growth of phytoplanktons.

I made a new cylinder seal which depicted turtles and fish, and I enjoyed seeing the patterns. More



I continued a project that I started last month. In recent years on this island some of the deer died.   I used sand stone to make deer feet and printed them on the sand of beach.

The oil released into the Persian Gulf produced devastating consequences on the marine wildlife of the area, including the endangered hawksbill and green turtles. Thousands of cormorants (a type of marine bird) died as a result of exposure to oil or polluted water. Many Karan Island green turtles developed lesions.

During the war the immediate environmental problem caused by the oil well fires, in which some 5 million gallons of oil a day were going up in flames (consuming more oil each day than Kuwait sold before the invasion), was in respiratory problems among its citizens.

Even now, countries in this region are dealing with problems left from oil that has formed many oil lakes and pools that are sinking into the sand, contaminating some million tons of soil.


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