By Maryam Qarehgozlou, Tehran Times
TEHRAN - Environmental catastrophes affect almost all aspects of our lives and one way or another we are all responsible for what we have done to the Earth. We all share the same earth and are fully responsible for what we do on it.
One of the most important steps needed to be taken towards having a better environment is to raise public awareness and artistic works ranging from films to paintings and graphic designs as a global language can set the scene for such accomplishment.
Parisa Tashakkori is an Iranian graphic designer whose works of art mostly carry environmental implications. Being a jury member for poster contests in Mexico, France, and Iran are of the few of her career highlights.
She was also awarded with honorary diploma in international design and illustration festival “COW!!!” of Ukraine in 2007, came in third in 10th international poster triennial “Ekoplagat' 05” of Slovakia in 2005, and was the prizewinner in graphic category of first exhibition of material recycling of Tehran in 2002.
The Tehran Times had an interview with Tashakkori on the sidelines of the Fifth International Green Film Festival May 13-20, 2016. Tashakkori was also in charge of the international visual arts exhibition of the festival and managed to add graphic arts of Mexican and Brazilian artist to the exhibition.
In what comes next Tashakkori explained her motives and the importance of the art in encouraging environmental preservation.
Q: What made you decide to choose environmental challenges as your main focus?
A: In 2001 as I was looking for a topic for my bachelor’s degree thesis I used to go to the library to search through the documents and books and I was looking for a radical subject which was less discussed earlier. After months of research and study specifically on the UNESCO magazines I started to understand how important and serious environmental predicaments are in the world.
I checked with my professor who welcomed my idea and introduced me to another professor and we decided to concentrate on environmental posters and on the theoretic part of the thesis I went through the activities of the artists who had tried to raise public awareness about environmental catastrophes.
Q: How art can foster environmental culture among the public?
A: The impact of art on the environmental culture and its stewardship is more than you can imagine. In almost all communities the artists are role models for the public and that’s why they can promote environmental culture among them. Particularly graphic designers can play a key role in raising awareness and visual literacy of the public.
Images are more effective communicators and it is proved that an image can convey a message way more quickly than a written text. Professional graphic designers can readily interpret the environmental crisis and the strategies to respond and phase out the crisis in a way that is easy to comprehend and appreciate for the public. By facilitating mutual understanding through their works of art they can even involve the public to resolve the complex environmental issues.
Q: How artists can be encouraged to cooperate in addressing environmental problems?
A: I believe that the artists have the potential to take part in projects tackling such issues and are interested in working in this field. What matters is that the officials have to ask them to work in this field. A good example of such cooperation is Tehran’s municipality efforts in setting up billboards in the city seeking social reforms which are designed by professional graphic designers for the past few years.
Q: What was your role in the Fifth International Green Film Festival visual arts exhibition?
A: I was in charge of arranging the international visual arts exhibition and I succeeded in adding Brazilian and Mexican works of art to the exhibition.
The Mexican posters and graphic designs belonged to a biannual poster contest coordinated by Gus Morainslie, a Mexican graphic designer and was comprising of 88 black and white posters revolving around water shortage and overuse of plastic.
The “Global Mix” section of the exhibition also included 28 posters designed by world’s renowned designers, which was organized by the Brazilian designer Felipe Taborda.
Q: How do you evaluate art exhibitions in Iran?
A: Unfortunately in Iran the artistic works which are rather good would mean no more than a piece of paper which turn into a pile of trash after the exhibition especially regarding the posters. The designers would be forgotten too and the award winner works are never put into good use. That’s why there are hardly memorable graphic designs about environmental event in Iran. The posters of these events are also designed with unprofessional designers at the very last moments.
Even when we achieve some positive results in this field the director will be removed from the office and a new director will be appointed and all the hard work will be destroyed.
Q: How do you suggest improving such festivals and exhibitions?
A: We can take such festivals and exhibitions to the streets. Unlike paintings which are kept in art galleries and showcased to the artists and their friends the posters belong to the streets were their addresses are. The public needs to see the posters closely, know what’s happening around them and even tear them to show their objection.
How a housewife should know that plastic bags or the bleach are detrimental to the environment without being informed about its harms. I’m sure that if they know about their harmful effects they would stop using them and would change their lifestyle.
Posters are not being used efficiently in Iran. I strongly believe that environmental predicaments are so much significant that need to be broadcast both in the TV and even showcased on the streets.
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