Fifi Howls from Happiness: An awarded Documentary on Iranian Artist Bahman Mohassess running in Cinemas now

Mitra Farahani’s lyrical documentary explores the enigma of provocative artist Bahman Mohassess, the so-called “Persian Picasso,” whose acclaimed paintings and sculptures dominated pre-revolutionary Iran. Irreverent and uncompromising, a gay man in a hostile world, Mohassess had a conflicted relationship with his homeland-revered by elites in the art scene and praised as a national icon, only to be censored later by an oppressive regime. Known for his iconoclastic art as well as his scathing declarations, Mohasses abandoned the country over 30 years ago for a simple, secluded life in Italy.

Reactions

Critics Pick “Addictively fascinating…The lovely meeting of artistic sensibilities makes this doc sing.” -Michael Atkinson, Village Voice

Five stars! “Stunningly multifaceted…surprising and deeply affecting.” – Keith Uhlich, Time Out NY

“Thoughtful, moving…A portrait of the artist as a refusenik, a recluse, a survivor and a stubborn question mark, “Fifi Howls From Happiness” registers, by turns, as a celebration, an excavation and an increasingly urgent rescue mission.” Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

“A fascinating portrait.” – Jay Weissberg, Variety

“The most startlingly unexpected Iranian triumph at Telluride was Mitra Farahani’s FIFI HOWLS FROM HAPPINESS, an unconventional documentary about forgotten Iranian artist Bahman Mohassess. Mohassess, who died in 2010, was a fantastic character, a viciously witty gay guy who cut a stylish swath through Europe and makes wicked fun of his dim-bulb oppressors. In the film, Farahani, gorgeous and stylishly feminine, spars skillfully with the artist, deftly penetrating his defenses through sheer intelligence and knowledge of his work, like Truffaut interviewing Hitchcock.” – Tim Appelo, The Hollywood Reporter

“A joyous celebration of freedom to create, to destroy, to live without regret.” – Lincoln Film Center

“When a film about an artist becomes itself a transcendent work of art.” – Peter Sellars

“Exceptionally clever. The final sequence makes for unforgettable cinema.” – Ken Eisner, Georgia Straight

Awards & Festivals

  • Winner! Buenos Aires Indendent Film Festival 2014 – International Competition
  • Telluride Film Festival- Official Selection
  • New York Film Festival – Official Selection
  • Berlin International Film Festival – Official Selection
  • Outfest 2014 – Official Selection

http://www.payvand.com/news/14/aug/1104.html

Series: Iranian Handicraft and Art – Intro & Part 1: Pottery

Intro

Iran held the 24th International Handicrafts Exhibition to mark World Handicrafts Day on Tuesday June 10, 2014 … at Tehran’s International Fairground.

The World Handicrafts Council was established by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and 90 countries have already joined it.
Iran is home to one of the richest art heritages and handicrafts in world history and distinguished in many disciplines, including architecture, painting, weaving, pottery, calligraphy, metalworking and stone masonry.

Persians were among the first to use mathematics, geometry, and astronomy in architecture and also have extraordinary skills in making massive domes which can be seen frequently in the structure of bazaars and mosques.

Pottery

Prominent archeologist Roman Ghirshman said, “The taste and talent of these people [Iranians] can be seen through the designs of their earthenware.”

Of the thousands of archeological sites and historical ruins of Iran, almost every one of them can be found to have been filled, at some point, with earthenware of exceptional quality.

http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Iran%E2%80%99s_Art_Heritages_and_Handicrafts.htm

Exhibition: Persian Caligraphy at Smithsonian’s Freer and Sackler Galleries, Washington, DC (Opening: Sept.13 – End: March 2015)

OPENING SEPT. 13, “NASTA‘LIQ: THE GENIUS OF PERSIAN CALLIGRAPHY” IS FIRST EXHIBITION ON PERSIA’S MOST POPULAR AND VISUALLY STUNNING SCRIPT

During a prolific 200-year period in the 14th-16th centuries, four master calligraphers invented one of the most aesthetically refined forms of Persian culture: nasta‘liq, a type of calligraphy so beautiful that for the first time the expressive form of the words eclipsed their meaning. “Nastaliq: The Genius of Persian Calligraphy,” opening Sept. 13 at the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, displays 20 rarely seen masterworks created by the script’s greatest practitioners, tracing its evolution from a simple style of writing to a potent form of artistic expression.

This is the first exhibition ever to focus specifically on nasta‘liq, which was used primarily to write poetry, Persia’s quintessential form of literature. With sinuous lines, short vertical strokes and an astonishing sense of rhythm, the script was an immediate success and was rapidly adopted throughout the Persian-speaking world from Turkey to India. The exhibition shows how generations of itinerant calligraphers, bound by the master-pupil relationship, developed, enhanced and spreadnasta‘liq between major artistic centers.

Nasta‘liq represents one of the most accomplished forms of Persian art, developed at a time of cultural and artistic effervescence in Iran,” said Simon Rettig, exhibition curator and curatorial fellow at the Freer and Sackler galleries. “In a sense, it became the visual embodiment of the Persian language enthusiastically embraced from Istanbul to Delhi and from Bukhara to Baghdad.”

 

 

More info and pictures:

http://www.payvand.com/news/14/aug/1073.html

 

Volleyball: Iran wins vs World League Champion USA in third match in Irvine, USA

Group photo of Iran and US volleyball teams

Group photo of Iran and US volleyball teams

After falling in two previous matches to the U.S. men’s national team, Iran earned a 3-2 victory in the USA Volleyball Cup on Friday night.

Amir Ghafour had 26 points in the 24-26, 26-24, 25-27, 25-20, 15-9 victory at Viejas Arena at San Diego State. The four-match exhibition series concludes Saturday night at UC Irvine.

 
Other sports related Iran news: http://theotheriran.com/tag/sports/

Series American couple in Iran: Audry’s cites on Persepolis: Ancient Persia, Modern Lessons

Although Persepolis is one of Iran’s top archeological and tourist sites, I was careful to keep my expectations in check before visiting. After all, what would remain of the 2,500 year-old capital of the Achaemenid Empire? Amidst crumbled columns, I found great detail that blew me away and a surprising connection to the present.

Gate of All Nations - Persepolis, Iran

Gate of All Nations – Persepolis, Iran

When I first entered Persepolis through the Gate of All Nations, I was struck by the scale of it all – the statues, the columns, the great stone. I tried to imagine the process of transporting the raw materials to this place, constructing the city and palace, and fashioning it all without the mechanical means we have today.

Persepolis eastern staircase leading to Apadana Palace, all 23 subject nations represented.

Persepolis eastern staircase leading to Apadana Palace, all 23 subject nations represented.


Like a camera lens, my eyes began to focus on stone-carved details — hair, faces, beards, hats, and clothes, gifts carried in hands. That you could still make out every curl in a beard, eyelash on a camel and softened skin of soldiers holding hands — 2,500 years later – struck me as truly spectacular.

And it went on like this, through the citizens of each member nation — Egyptians, Assyrians, Indians, Tajiks, and so on. Each was easily identifiable, their physical appearance and cultural trappings preserved in stone from 500 B.C.

It was the whole of these details that to me seemed to define the character of the Achaemenid Empire: a multi-ethnic ancient empire built on respecting – if not maintaining — the diversity of many cultures amidst a unifying loyalty to one king.

Persian and Median soldiers holding hands, leading the way to the king.

Persian and Median soldiers holding hands, leading the way to the king.

Cyrus the Great’s Human Rights Charter

While it was Darius the Great who built this palace at Persepolis, it was his father-in-law – Cyrus the Great – who attempted to set the foundation of mutual respect within the Achaemenid Empire. In his Babylon Cylinder (539 B.C.), Cyrus put forth some of the first recorded mentions of human rights, an expression of tolerance, and of religious, linguistic and racial equality across the empire.

History tells us that great civilizations have come and gone, risen and fallen, ascended and crumbled. The pity of the great Persian empire — 23 nations under one roof and the nascent echoes of human rights — was that a great man came and went well before his time.

Head over to: http://uncorneredmarket.com/persepolis/

to see all photos, and read the whole text.

 

Iranian Mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani the first woman to win the “Nobel Prize of Mathematics”

Maryam Mirzakhani

Maryam Mirzakhani is the first woman to ever win the Fields Medal – known as the “Nobel Prize of mathematics” – in recognition of her contributions to the understanding of the symmetry of curved surfaces.

Mirzakhani was born and raised in Tehran, Iran. As a young girl she dreamed of becoming a writer. By high school, however, her affinity for solving mathematical problems and working on proofs had shifted her sights.

Mirzakhani became known to the international math scene as a teenager, winning gold medals at both the 1994 and 1995 International Math Olympiads – she finished with a perfect score in the latter competition. Mathematicians who would later be her mentors and colleagues followed the mathematical proofs she developed as an undergraduate.

After earning her bachelor’s degree from Sharif University of Technology in 1999, she began work on her doctorate at Harvard University under the guidance of Fields Medal recipient Curtis McMullen.
http://news.stanford.edu/news/2014/august/fields-medal-mirzakhani-081214.html

Interesting Interview with Mirzakhani by The Guardian:

What are some of your earliest memories of mathematics?

I grew up in a family with three siblings. My parents were always very supportive and encouraging. It was important for them that we have meaningful and satisfying professions …
In many ways, it was a great environment for me, though these were hard times during the Iran-Iraq war. My older brother was the person who got me interested in science in general. He used to tell me what he learned in school. My first memory of mathematics is probably the time that he told me about the problem of adding numbers from 1 to 100. I think he had read in a popular science journal how Gauss solved this problem. The solution was quite fascinating for me.

What experiences and people were especially influential on your mathematical education?

I was very lucky in many ways. The war ended when I finished elementary school; I couldn’t have had the great opportunities that I had if I had been born 10 years earlier. I went to a great high school in Tehran – Farzanegan – and had very good teachers. I met my friend Roya Beheshti during the first week of middle school. It is invaluable to have a friend who shares your interests, and it helps you stay motivated.

Our school was close to a street full of bookstores in Tehran. I remember how walking along this crowded street, and going to the bookstores, was so exciting for us. We couldn’t skim through the books like people usually do here in a bookstore, so we would end up buying a lot of random books. Also, our school principal was a strong-willed woman who was willing to go a long way to provide us with the same opportunities as the boys’ school.

Later, I got involved in Math Olympiads that made me think about harder problems. As a teenager, I enjoyed the challenge. But most importantly, I met many inspiring mathematicians and friends at Sharif University. The more I spent time on mathematics, the more excited I became.

Could you comment on the differences between mathematical education in Iran and in the US?

It is hard for me to comment on this question since my experience here in the US is limited to a few universities, and I know very little about the high school education here. However, I should say that the education system in Iran is not the way people might imagine here. As a graduate student at Harvard, I had to explain quite a few times that I was allowed to attend a university as a woman in Iran. While it is true that boys and girls go to separate schools up to high school, this does not prevent them from participating say in the Olympiads or the summer camps.

What advice would you give those who would like to know more about mathematics – what it is, what its role in society has been, and so on?

This is a difficult question. I don’t think that everyone should become a mathematician, but I do believe that many students don’t give mathematics a real chance. I did poorly in math for a couple of years in middle school; I was just not interested in thinking about it. I can see that without being excited mathematics can look pointless and cold. The beauty of mathematics only shows itself to more patient followers.

http://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/aug/13/interview-maryam-mirzakhani-fields-medal-winner-mathematician

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Mirzakhani with her parents during a visit to Isfahan, Iran.

Mirzakhani with her parents during a visit to Isfahan, Iran.

Some other interesting info about her personality:

Mirzakhani grew up in Iran and was at first more interested in reading and writing fiction than doing mathematics

Mirzakhani grew up in Iran and was at first more interested in reading and writing fiction than doing mathematics

With her low voice and steady, gray-blue eyes, Mirzakhani projects an unwavering self-confidence. She has an equal tendency, however, toward humility. Asked to describe her contribution to a particular research problem, she laughed, hesitated and finally said: “To be honest, I don’t think I’ve had a very huge contribution.” And when an email arrived in February saying that she would receive what is widely regarded as the highest honor in mathematics — the Fields Medal, which will be awarded today at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Seoul, South Korea — she assumed that the account from which the email was sent had been hacked.

Other mathematicians, however, describe Mirzakhani’s work in glowing terms.

As a child growing up in Tehran, Mirzakhani had no intention of becoming a mathematician. Her chief goal was simply to read every book she could find. She also watched television biographies of famous women such as Marie Curie and Helen Keller, and later read “Lust for Life,” a novel about Vincent van Gogh. These stories instilled in her an undefined ambition to do something great with her life — become a writer, perhaps.

In her first week at the new school, she made a lifelong friend, Roya Beheshti, who is now a mathematics professor at Washington University in St. Louis. As children, the two explored the bookstores that lined the crowded commercial street near their school. Browsing was discouraged, so they randomly chose books to buy. “Now, it sounds very strange,” Mirzakhani said. “But books were very cheap, so we would just buy them.”

To her dismay, Mirzakhani did poorly in her mathematics class that year. Her math teacher didn’t think she was particularly talented, which undermined her confidence. At that age, “it’s so important what others see in you,” Mirzakhani said. “I lost my interest in math.”

The following year, Mirzakhani had a more encouraging teacher, however, and her performance improved enormously. “Starting from the second year, she was a star,” Beheshti said.

In 1994, when Mirzakhani was 17, she and Beheshti made the Iranian math Olympiad team. Mirzakhani’s score on the Olympiad test earned her a gold medal. The following year, she returned and achieved a perfect score.

After completing an undergraduate degree in mathematics at Sharif University in Tehran in 1999, Mirzakhani went to graduate school at Harvard University, where she started attending McMullen’s seminar.

She started going to McMullen’s office and peppering him with questions, scribbling down notes in Farsi.

“She had a sort of daring imagination,” recalled McMullen, a 1998 Fields medalist. “She would formulate in her mind an imaginary picture of what must be going on, then come to my office and describe it. At the end, she would turn to me and say, ‘Is it right?’ I was always very flattered that she thought I would know.”

Read on here:

http://www.simonsfoundation.org/quanta/20140812-a-tenacious-explorer-of-abstract-surfaces/

Other interesting articles on Mirzakhani:

http://iranianroots.com/?s=Mirzakhani