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Transit Tehran in London: Art and Documentary from Iran


Whispers of the East, No. 5 (detail),
Sadegh Tirafkan, 2006-07

Exhibition of photography, art and short documentary films

28 September 2009 - 06 November 2009

London School of Economics and Political Science
Atrium Gallery
Old Building
Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE

Challenging the media's representations of Tehran in the news, this exhibition of art works and documentary films reintroduces Iran's dynamic capital in a way that could only be described by the city's insiders, including rappers, artists, writers, and photojournalists.


Organised by

Iran Heritage Foundation, Prince Claus Fund Library, BBC World Service Trust, Off-Centre Productions and Parallax Media in association with the London School of Economics and Political Science

Curated by

Exhibition: Malu Halasa
Documentaries: James Neil

LSE Arts Coordinator

Richard Hylton


Sunk in permanent smog, tangled in traffic jams, suffused with the threat of civil unrest, life in Tehran is chaotic and unpredictable. For a capital much in the news, the city's secrets are well guarded.

Transit Tehran explores unexpected facets of urban experience through the work of Iranian artists Sadegh Tirafkan and Khosrow Hassanzadeh, photographer Kaveh Golestan, graphic novelist Parsua Bashi and the generation of photojournalists who came of age during the reformist press boom of the late 1990s. Newsha Tavakolian (named 'Best Young Photographer' of 2006 by National Geographic), Abbas Kowsari, Omid Salehi, Javad Montazeri, Peyman Hooshmandzadeh, Majid Saeedi and Kian Amani, among many others, continue to document the social transformation of their country despite increasing government restrictions. The exhibition's art photography, art and short documentary film season draw on Iran's rich visual and cultural heritage, traditionally a place of resistance throughout the country's long history of political turmoil.

This exhibition draws from the anthology Transit Tehran: Young Iran and Its Inspirations, published earlier this year by Garnet Publishing and the Prince Claus Fund Library, with support from Iran Heritage Foundation and Arts Council England.


Transit I: Documentary Film Programme:

Wednesday, 14 October 2009, 7.15-8.45pm
New Theatre, East Building

Tehran Has No More Pomegranates
Directed by Massoud Bakhshi, Iran 2007, documentary, 68 min. In Persian with English subtitles.
Introduced by James Neil, followed by a Q+A by Jon Snow with Massoud Bakhshi, Dr Nayareh Dalali, James Neil and Malu Halasa.

Tehran Has No More Pomegranates marks the arrival of a new auteur in Iranian cinema - Massoud Bakhshi. The film belongs to that rare breed: a collage 'ciné poem' of a great city metropolis. Like its spiritual brethren Berlin: Symphony of a City and Man with a Movie Camera, Pomegranates is at once suffused with a dizzying array of photographs and never before seen archive film from the past century brought together with a witty voiceover and a pulsating musical score by Mohsen Namjoo. Shot over five years and deploying a range of experimental film devices, it captures with humour and razor-sharp observation the transformation of Tehran from rural village to city of dreams.

Transit II: Lecture Programme:

Monday, 19 October 2009, 6.30-8pm
Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building

Young Iran: Pictures, Politics and Stories
by Malu Halasa, with illustrations and Q+A

Transit III: Documentary Film Programme:

Wednesday, 21 October 2009, 6.30-8.30pm
New Theatre, East Building

Online Ayatollah directed by Maziar Bahari, Iran 2001, documentary, 26 min, plus Countdown directed by Khatereh Hanachi, produced by Maziar Bahari and supported by the BBC World Service Trust, Iran 2008, documentary, 50 min. Both documentaries in Persian with English subtitles.

Online Ayatollah shows a day in the life of Grand Ayatollah Youssef Sanei. At home in the holy city of Qom, the Ayatollah advises on matters such as buying a house, travelling, marriage and divorce, gives religious instruction and reaches a world-wide audience through his website. He shares his office and a family meal with filmmaker Maziar Bahari, and sheds light on one of the most misunderstood professions in Iran, that of religious clerics. This short documentary film reveals a traditional holy man offering very modern advice. Produced for Al Jazeera (English), the documentary was made by Maziar Bahari, a Canadian/Iranian journalist arrested in Tehran on June 21 while covering the Iranian elections for Newsweek.

Countdown directed by Khatereh Hanachi, produced by Maziar Bahari and supported by the BBC World Service Trust, is a fly-on-the-wall documentary about 18-year-old Parisa Pouladi who buries herself in books day and night in preparation for the national college entrance exam. Along with more than a million other Iranian high school graduates, Parisa hopes high marks will secure her a place in a top-notch university. Less than half of all the students taking the exam will pass. As the exam draws near, Parisa's parents' household - like thousands of others across the country - begins to implode.

Transit Tehran exhibition
28 September 2009 - 06 November 2009
Monday-Friday 10am - 8 pm


Exhibition: Admission free
Films: Admission free
Lecture: Admission free
For tickets, RSVP

Map & Directions


Malu Halasa,
James Neil, Tel: +44 (7876) 067 611,
Richard Hylton Tel: +44 (0)207 852 3793,

... Payvand News - 09/22/09 ... --

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