Si-o-Seh Pol Bridge Isfahan - Iran
www.tirgan.ca Photo by Sam Javanrouh
13-07-04 11:13 AM
T I R G A N M AG A Z I N E 2 0 1 3
A MESSAGE FROM
THE CEO On behalf of the Tirgan Organizing Committee, it is my great pleasure to extend a warm welcome to all the visitors who have joined us to make this yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s festival another outstanding success! This will be our fourth biennial celebration of a great Iranian festival, proudly presented in association with the Harbourfront Centre, and featuring a broad array of unique programs depicting the varied arts and culture of Iran. Once more, I had the honour to work alongside 300 other volunteers to make this festival a reality. Lying at the crossroads of the East and West, and having been one of the empires of old situated as a nexus for the intersection of various cultures, Iran remains one of the few ancient civilizations to remain resonant through the ages. Since the essence of a civilization is best captured through the splendour and majesty of its art, visitors at Tirgan will have the opportunity to catch a glimpse of Iranâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ancient civilization. Holding a festival of such range and caliber would not have been possible without the commitment and hard work of a dedicated group of volunteers, the invaluable support of our sponsors, and other supporters including the Harbourfront Centre and the City of Toronto, and the assistance of the provincial and federal governments. The theme of this yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s festival is hope, the core element which has combined with imagination and creativity to fuel human advancement.To me personally, the very fact that such an elaborate festival relies primarily on the tireless efforts of dedicated volunteers is itself a source of endless inspiration. It signifies a deep reservoir of awareness, knowledge, and social responsibility and the existence of a strong moral foundation among many individuals who represent the very fabric of our young community here in Canada.This is reminiscent of the dynamic recounted by the ancient Iranian poet Attar.The fable begins when a number of birds commence a journey in search of the legendary bird, Simorgh. Only after enduring a long trek to arrive at the land from which Simorgh purportedly hailed, did the transient birds realize that Simorgh resided within them and represented nothing more than the totality of their shared transcendence I have experienced hope every moment I have been privileged to work alongside the remarkably young volunteers you see before you here today. These are the individuals who inspire us to believe in the bright and bold future that lies ahead in the great beyond. It would be no exaggeration to suggest that these youth are our present day legends! I encourage you all to take pleasure in the many events and displays that have been arranged for the next four days and to enjoy memorable moments with your loved ones. //
13-07-10 11:58 PM
A MESSAGE FROM
THE HONORARY CHAIR Dear Friends, On behalf of the organizing Committee, it is with much pleasure that I welcome you all to Tirgan 2013. From its modest beginnings in 2006,Tirgan has come a very long way. As you are likely aware, the Festival attracted well over 125,000 visitors to the Harbourfront Centre in 2011. I can assure you that the many Tirgan organizers and volunteers have spared no effort to ensure that each successive festival provides you with a richer tapestry of events and spectacles. Tirgan is a unique addition to Canadaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s rich and colorful cultural mosaic. Inspired by Iranian traditions, it provides exquisite glimpses of the rich reservoir of Iranian literature, traditions, cuisine, dance and music. All we ask of you is to indulge your senses and enjoy the many festivities to the fullest. Each of you impart color to this artistic four day canvass, and we are delighted that you will be honoring us with your presence. Our many organizers, consisting of over 300 volunteers, and scores of artists and performers have worked tirelessly to push the frontiers of Tirgan 2013. I am sure you will agree with me that their vision and imaginations will surpass your every expectation. I look forward to seeing you at the festival!
13-07-10 11:58 PM
T I R G A N M AG A Z I N E 2 0 1 3
Reza Moridi, M.P.P. Richmond Hill
July 18, 2013
Dear Friends, I am pleased to extend my warmest greetings to everyone attending the Tirgan Festival 2013 presented by the Iranian-Canadian Centre for Art & culture. From its modest beginning in 2006, the Tirgan Festival has grown into the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s largest celebration of Iranian art and culture, presented through visual arts, dance, film, music, workshops, traditional bazaars, and delicious food and drinks. Through this event, Canadians of all backgrounds will have an opportunity to experience the richness and diversity of Iranian culture. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the organizer, along with their sponsors and the many dedicated volunteers for their commitment and hard work to make this biennial festival a success. Please accept my best wishes for an enjoyable and memorable festival. Yours sincerely,
Reza Moridi, MPP Richmond Hill
13-07-10 11:58 PM
A MESSAGE FROM
THE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR Millions of years ago when our ancestors stood on the edge of a diminishing, threatened habitat and looked into the vast terrain that became Africa, the first sparks of “Hope” was ignited in humanity. It was hope that reinforced our courage to embrace chan¬¬ge, move forward and overcome danger. One may argue that even before tool making and the invention of fire and language, hope is what gave humanity an edge to survive and thrive in circumstances which ninety-eight percent of everything living succumbs to extinction. Modern civilization was nurtured by hope in the power of mankind to affect humanity. It was hope that elevated us to the peaks of our individual and collective accomplishments and it was hope that fueled our perseverance to overcome the natural and self-inflicted devastations that plagued us throughout history. Hope is an integral ingredient of being human. Tirgan 2013 is dedicated to “Hope”. A festival of Hope with which we celebrate Art and Culture that keeps us hopeful in the power of humanity to persevere, overcome and survive. Throughout history, Iranians have had their share of natural and selfinflicted devastations, yet there is no more powerful indication to our hopefulness to overcome and persevere, than our Artistic and Cultural heritage. Pluralism, diversity and the ability to change and embrace change is engrained in the Iranian psyche from the beginning of civilization. These foundational traits are most evidently crystalized in Iranian contemporary arts. Just like our ancestors at the beginning of time and throughout history during the peaks and valleys of civilization, Iranian artists stood on the edge of threatened habitats and reached for the future with hope. Hope that the universality of Art and Culture can shatter the thin but persistent layer of discrimination, injustice and brutality and expose the glowing core of beauty. Iranian women have contributed equally, and without equal opportunity, to the cultural mosaic that defined our identity. Iranian Contemporary Arts is shaped in part, by members of our society whose voice may not be heard, whose image was taboo and whose legal standing was half of their male counterparts. Hope is nowhere more tangible than in the Artistic landscape of a terrain called Iran. A landscape in which monuments of artistic and cultural accomplishments were also erected by women who shattered the immense burden imposed upon them by the man-made devastations that could only be overcome by hope. Tirgan 2013 celebrates this Hope by showcasing the best of what defines us as human beings who happen to be born in a certain terrain that was reached by our hopeful ancestors who found the courage to defy extinction and reach for the future. //
13-07-10 11:58 PM
T I R G A N M AG A Z I N E 2 0 1 3
A MESSAGE FROM THE
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Much as every other aspect of the Tirgan Festival, the preparation of this latest edition of Tirgan Magazine was a team effort every step of the way. We certainly hope that this third edition of the Magazine will enhance your enjoyment of the festival itself and prove a worthy companion to you for the next four days, if not beyond. To begin with, the previous editors of the Magazine, Maryam Nayeb-Yazdi and Maral Massoudi were crucial to establishing a strong foundation of excellence for this publication. Moreover, we owe a huge debt of gratitude to Kathy Toufighi who masterfully page edited the previous edition, and graciously agreed to once again continue her collaboration as the Art Director of this yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s publication. If anyone has the perfect eye for aesthetics it would have to be Kathy, and it was a great pleasure for all those involved to work with her to produce this publication. Others who proved instrumental to this publication were Nima Ahmadi, Shahin Edalati, Delshad Emami, and Pendar Yousefi What proved particularly nerve racking was the reality that Tirgan has established a fine tradition of outdoing itself every two years.Those of us who assisted with the production of this magazine were certainly mindful of this tradition, and strived to present you a rich collection of articles and illustrations. What allowed us to tackle the challenge where the talented writers who kindly agreed to contribute articles to this edition, and the extraordinary personalities who agreed to be interviewed. May you much enjoy flipping through the pages and the varied articles that follow, //
ALI C. EHSASSI
13-07-10 11:58 PM
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13-07-10 11:58 PM
T I R G A N M AG A Z I N E 2 0 1 3
Premier of Ontario - Première ministre de l’Ontario
July 18 – 21, 2013
A PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM THE PREMIER On behalf of the Government of Ontario, I am delighted to extend warm greetings to our Iranian Canadian community and everyone attending Tirgan Festival — a celebration of Iranian heritage, arts and culture. Ontario is a province rooted in diversity. We speak many languages, embrace every culture and have links to every part of the world. And it is this wealth of global connections which gives us our character and our heart, and represents one of our greatest assets. The Iranian Canadian community has contributed immeasurably to the social, cultural and economic life of our province. I am greatly honoured to add my voice to this much-anticipated event. For Iranian Canadians, this is an opportunity to celebrate your rich and multifaceted culture. For other Ontarians, this is an occasion to experience the creative energy of the multicultural society we have built, together, here in Ontario. I commend everyone who worked to ensure the success of this event. Please accept my best wishes for a memorable and inspiring Tirgan Festival.
Kathleen Wynne Premier
13-07-10 11:58 PM
13-07-10 11:58 PM
T I R G A N M AG A Z I N E 2 0 1 3
HARBOURFRONT CENTRE WELCOMES TIRGAN BACK On behalf of Harbourfront Centre, it is a great pleasure to welcome you to our ten acre central waterfront site in Toronto to celebrate the return of the TIRGAN Iranian Festival. We are very pleased to be partnering once again with the Tirgan Festival to present the third edition of TIRGAN after its very successful debut at Harbourfront Centre in 2008. The organizers have assembled an impressive array of artists from all disciplines to explore the very timely and inspirational concept of Hope.The Festival affords our visitors an extraordinary opportunity to explore the depth of creativity of Persian culture, creating a greater understanding amongst Canadians of all backgrounds of both the rich history and the dynamic future of this ancient culture. TIRGAN has grown and flourished at Harbourfront Centre and has become a much anticipated highlight of our summer cultural calendar.This year will see the festival expand into the newly created public squares and landscapes at the core of our Harbourfront Centre lakefront site. We trust this enlarged physical footprint will allow TIRGAN to continue its growth and expansion into the future. This year’s festival promises a rich and varied menu of unforgettable artistic experiences. The exploration of the many complexities of Hope and, in particular, the role of women guarantees that TIRGAN will once again be thought-provoking, stimulating and celebratory. TIRGAN is an impressive organization with a clear vision to offer us all an unparalleled look at one of the world’s great birthplaces of creativity while exploring the important role in Canada of artists of Iranian descent. As Canada’s largest centre for contemporary culture, Harbourfront Centre welcomes the new dimensions that TIRGAN explores of the art of our time.We trust you will be surprised and intrigued by what you encounter this weekend.Thank you for joining us for this wonderful celebration. Our special thanks are extended to all the volunteers, artists and staff who worked tirelessly together to make the vision of TIRGAN 2013 a reality. //
WILLIAM J.S. BOYLE Chief Executive Officer Harbourfront Centre July 2013
13-07-10 11:58 PM
Yorkville Dental Office
Woodywood Maker Mazinani Law Office
Shirini Sara Caspian Travel
Format Group Inc Butterfly Buzz
Atlas Travel EDGECOM
Toronto Poly Clinic
Parsian Fine Food
Sarv Music Academy
Infinite Investment Systems
13-07-11 12:58 AM
Bitaarof Mehregon Parnian Magazine Javanan Magazine Negarestan Magazine
Iranian Hotline Koodak TV Radio Roya Pars culture Hafteh Magazine
Chizomiz Jooya Online Radiodoost Payvand
Radio Seda-ye Iran Zarvaragh Shahrgon Persian MIRROR
Tirgan Art Lover $5,000
Tirgan Art Lover $200 to $499
Anonymous Dr. Khadivi Dr. Shams
Tirgan Art Supporter $2,000 Behrouz Parsa Fred Darvish DONORS $1000 to $1999 Shad & Associates Inc. Toronto Raptors Iranian Night Game Elham Naseri & Ali Mortazavi Mohammad Eslami Mehdi Komeilian DONORS $500 to $999 Dr. Behnam Kashanian & Dr. Hedieh Hooshangi Banu Resturant Arik Auerbach Anonymous
Tirgan Art Supporter $100 to $199 Yasaman Yazdani Hosein Amooshahi Amir Mazinani Siavash Daghighian Houshang Shans Social Gathering DONORS $50 to $99 Homa Khoei Friends of Tirgan Talent Show Nasrin Khatam
13-07-11 1:04 AM
T I R G A N FA M I LY CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER Mehrdad Ariannejad H O N O R A RY C H A I R Anousheh Ansari AC C O U N T I N G M A N AG E R Hosseinali Dadfar A R T I S T I C D I R E C TO R Babak Payami GENERAL A D M I N I S T R AT I O N M A N AG E R Nasim Rad A R T I S T I C E D I TO R I A L Katayoun Sabet
Faezeh Azadi Sara Dezfouli Shervin Firouzi Sonia Ghajar Hirad Hayati Farzad Khalichi Morvarid Kupai Morvarid Majlesi Ali Mohammadi Sahar Parsanejad Neda Tabatabaie Fariba Taheri Pourya Taleghani
Saman Aghvami Reza Shirazi Maryam Afshar Recolo Peter Lear
I N F O R M AT I O N SYS T E M M A N AG E R Hamoon Hayati
EVENT PLANNER Baharak Azkia Behnaz Nickpour Behzad Lotfabady Donya Shooka
I N F O R M AT I O N SYS T E M A S S I S TA N T Alireza Danaei Saeed Shojaei
ARTISTIC PROGRAM C O O R D I N ATO R Arezoo Araie Maryam Eskandari Shahrzad Shahriari
A P P D E V E LO P E R Arash Bina
PRODUCTION Arsalan Alizadeh Mahyar Soeizi
GRAPHIC DESIGNERS Atefeh Zolghadr Shirin Motebaheri Rezwana Bahram Mehdi Mansouri
K I D S AC T I V I T I E S C O O R D I N ATO R Arian Behshad INTERNAL C O M M U N I C AT I O N C O O R D I N ATO R Niloufar Momeni K I D S AC T I V I T I E S Sanaz Ariannejad Behrooz Bakhtiari Sophia Khalafi Tandis Rezaei M A R K E T I N G /S A L E S D I R E C TO R Nima Ahmadi SENIOR MARKETING M A N AG E R Arezoo Araie G R A N T M A N AG E R Maryam Eskandari M A R K E T I N G M A N AG E R Saman Kashani FUNDRAISING M A N AG E R Parisa Lak SENIOR MARKETING/ P R I N T M A N AG E R Shahram Maffi SENIOR MARKETING/ V E N D O R M A N AG E R Ali Nakhaei-Zadeh CLIENT SERVICES M A N AG E R Azita Tayyeba SENIOR MARKETING/ T I C K E T I N G M A N AG E R Ehsan Zaeem SENIOR EXECUTIVE A DV I S O R Houshang Shans MARKETING MEMBERS Parinaz Lak Pantea Aminzadeh Hossein Amooshahi Saviz Arzandeh
C R E AT I V E D I R E C TO R Pendar Yousefi
C O O R D I N AT I N G PRODUCER Arsalan Alizadeh Mahyar Soeizi PRODUCER Yazdan Tabrizi A S S O C I AT E PRODUCER Arian Yaghmaei CAMERA OP C O O R D I N ATO R Fardad Kazemi WEB STREAMS O P E R ATO R Erwin Lievre E D I TO R S Ali Aghtar Arya Tavasoli Ramin Farideh Marjan Nemat Tavousi Hengameh Haddadi Alireza Mozzafari REPORTERS Bahareh Khodabandeh Farzaneh Satei Amir Hosseinzadeh CAMERA OP Erfan Hashempour Mohsen Nazeri Yaghoub Soltanpour Masoud Arjmand Mohsen Mahboobnia Arash Ajdari Sina Shafiyan Amirhassan Assgari PRODUCTION A S S I S TA N T S Yalda Dariany Maryam Mahini P H OTO G R A P H Y COMMITTEE Payam Ghaffari Reza Vaziri Babak Rajabi Sam Javanrouh
O P E R AT I O N S D I R E C TO R Arian Shojaei PRODUCTION Arian Yaghmaie Asal Ahani Asal Matinsadeghi
A D M I N I S T R AT I V E A S S I S TA N T Farnaz Fazeli Farshid Zoghalchi Ghazal Dehghani Golmaryam Tahmasbi Hani Ahmadi Kasra Moogouei Katayoun Salmanzadeh Mariam Sadeghi Mehran Kafi Morteza Khanichi Nasim Ghasemirad Nasrin Tolloeinia Negin Akhlaghpour Sanaz Pirayesh Sepideh Kheikhahi Shadi Zokaee Aida Ghasemzadeh VO L U N T E E R C O O R D I N ATO R Nushin Pirayesh Roozbeh Roostaei D I R E C TO R A S S I S TA N T Shaghayegh Mobed Sharghi Vafaie Shiva Kheirabadi GUEST RECEPTION M A N AG E R Mahsa Pezeshki GUEST SERVICES C O O R D I N ATO R Afsane Mohseni Anahita Loghmanifar Arezoo Ossareh Delara Emami Dena Sadeghipour Fariba Hakimi Hadis Arjmandfar Hamid Razaghi Hoda Ghods Hosein Yarmand Kiarash Rekabtalaei Leyla Zarrion Mana Sadeghipour Maral Parviznia Maryam Ashoori Mehdi Hosseini Mohammad Mozaffari Nastaran Rahnama Nazanin Akhlaghpour Proshat Javid Reza Kasebnia Shabnam Laksari Shahram Maafi Shokouh Alavi Ziba Heydarian LO G I S T I C S M A N AG E R Sohrab Pezeshki Amin Abbasfard Arash Ajdari
Behrooz Sabagh Poor Frazad Khalichi Hossein Rouhani Javad Esmaeelpanah Keyvan Tahaei Mohsen Asadi Mona Khatibi Navid MohammadPour Peyvand Rasouli Pourya Taleghani Sina Dezfouli S I T E O P E R AT I O N M A N AG E R Sara Khajeh P U B L I C A S S I S TA N T Arsha Bemani Zone Leader Alireza Mahmoodi Amir Shahi Arezou Tirdad Dena Homayounieh Ferida Hosseinieh Hossein Yarmand Kasra Noogonei Mehrnoosh Azem Melody Yousefian Mona Yousefian Nika Yousefian Parisa Moaveni Parisa Moaveni Pegah Adibi Reza Soltani Arezoo Tirdad E M C E E C O O R D I N ATO R Banafsheh Taherian ZO N E L E A D E R C O O R D I N ATO R Behzad Farzipour V E N U E M A N AG E M E N T C O O R D I N ATO R Damun Badiei ZO N E L E A D E R Danial Shidvash Faya Ghazanfari Hooman Foroughi Nafiseh Zangiabadi Shahrzad Akbarzadeh V E N U E A S S I S TA N T Mahsa Alaie Mahyar Zadshir Parvin Zaferani Pantea Aminzadeh Sanaz Alizadeh Sheida Rasouli P U B L I C A S S I S TA N T C O O R D I N ATO R Matin Soeizi TEA HOUSE Arsalan Alizadeh Pouya Sayyedi Ali Fattahi Azadeh Ossareh Arezou Ossareh Behnaz Nikpour Niloufar Eshghi Aida Azarakhsh P U B L I C R E L AT I O N S D I R E C TO R Behrouz Amouzgar P U B L I C R E L AT I O N S A D M I N I S T R ATO R Sara Dezfouli P U B L I C A F FA I R S M A N AG E R Saviz Arzandeh
COMMUNITY O U T R E AC H C O O R D I N ATO R Honya Kordnejad COMMUNITY O U T R E AC H A S S I S TA N T Sadaf Khajeh Talayeh Rad Shadi Darbani Sanar Ahmadi Zeaba Madani Hooman Foroughi Sepideh Khairkhahi Sara Marijanzadeh Pouya Leghani Navid Shahidi Sara Rowshanbin Liaison Coordinator Azadeh Ossareh A F F I L I AT E S C O O R D I N ATO R Arezou Ossareh A F F I L I AT E S A S S I S TA N T Sasan Parhizgari Shabnam Homampour Marzieh Rasooli G U E S T S / D I G N I TA R I E S C O O R D I N ATO R Ali Toufighi Arash Shokouhi Leila Kassaian Arash Rokni Fard Samira Kashani G U E S T S / D I G N I TA R I E S A S S I S TA N T Ali Ehsassi Michael Parsa Afkham Mardukhi Kia Nejatian MEDIA SPONSORSHIP C O O R D I N ATO R Kimia Davodi MEDIA SPONSORSHIP A S S I S TA N T Nastaran Amin Nayeri Setareh Omidi M E D I A C OV E R AG E C O O R D I N ATO R Padina Pezeshki Shaghayegh Oghbaei M E D I A C OV E R AG E A S S I S TA N T Mehrnaz Asadi Amir Nosrat Shirin Manafi WRITING C O O R D I N ATO R Nastaran Dadashi E-NEWSLETTER C O O R D I N ATO R Ava Naghavi SOCIAL MEDIA C O O R D I N ATO R Aida Azarakhsh W E B LO G C O O R D I N ATO R Delshad Emami L E G A L D E PA R T M E N T Behrouz Amouzgar P H OTO C O N T E S T Cafe Litt Mohammad Larijani
13-07-10 1:12 AM
T I R G A N M AG A Z I N E 2 0 1 3
13-07-10 1:12 AM
ARTICLES IN ENGLISH B O O K R E V I E W O F I R A DJ P E Z E S H K Z A D ’ S N E W E S T P U B L I C AT I O N : YA D - E YA R VA D I A R Saman Aghvami W E H AV E C E R TA I N LY C O M E A V E RY LO N G WAY Ali Ehsassi T H E H O P E A N T H O LO GY Anousheh Ansari, Ramin Jahanbeglo, Shahrzad Mojab, Mohammad Tavakoli-Targhi, Houra Yavari, Fariborz Mokhtari, Afkham Mardukhi
T I R G A N M AG A Z I N E E D I TO R - I N - C H I E F Al i Ehsassi A R T D I R E C TO R Katayoo n Toufi ghi P E R S I A N E D I TO R De l shad E mami CONTRIBUTING DESIGNER Pendar Yo use f i C OV E R D E S I G N BY Sh ah i n Edal ati CONTRIBUTORS Ayd i n Agh dashl o o S aman Aghvami Rez a A k hl aghi N asri n Al masi A no u sh e h Ansari J oo bi n Be k h rad A l i Ehsassi R a mi n J ah an be go l o o Pro sh at J avi d A l i dad M af i n ezam A mi r Mah i m Afk h am Mardukhi N asi m Mase rrat San az M azi n an i S hah rz ad M o j ab Fa r i b o rz M o k htari G h ol amh o sse i n Nami S h a gh aye gh O gh bae i Katayoun Sabet M a hmo o d S c h ri c ke r B arbara S l avi n E h ssan Tagh avi M o hse n Tagh avi M o hammad Taj do l ati M o h a m mad Tavako l i -Targhi So ure na Parh am Houra Yavari INTERVIEWEES P ro fe sso r Le i l i Anvar Robe rt de Warre n P rofe sso r Kave h Farro k h J i an Gh o me shi A m bassado r Ke n Tayl o r
T H E R E A L I R A N I A N C U LT U R E L I V E S I N TO R O N TO ! Dr. Alidad Mafinezam TO R O N TO A M E T I S S AG E O F M U S I C A L TA L E N T Mahmood Schricker T H E T H I R D S PAC E Sanaz Mazinani B O O K R E V I E W O F H A M I D R A H M A N I A N ’ S N E W I L L U S T R AT E D S H A H N A M E H Sourena Parham, Tehran Bureau C O M M I T M E N T TO C U LT U R A L T R A D I T I O N S A P I L L A R O F S T R E N G T H Reza Akhlaghi T I R G A N F E S T I VA L : R E AC H I N G F O R T H E S U N Mohsen Taghavi
INTERVIEWS - P R O F E S S O R K AV E H FA R R O K H O N A N C I E N T P E R S I A N H I S TO RY - P R O F E S S O R L E I L I A N VA R O N P E R S I A N P O E T RY - A M B A S S A D O R K E N TAY LO R R E F L E C T I O N S O N H I S T I M E I N I R A N - R O B E R T D E WA R R E N O N C H O R E O G R A P H Y A N D DA N C E - JIAN GHOMESHI All conducted by Ali Ehsassi S U N DAY I N T H E P E R S I A N K I TC H E N W I T H C H E F N A J M I E H B AT M A N G L I J Barbara Slavin, Al-Monitor I L L U S T R AT E D OV E R V I E W O F E V E N T S AT T I R G A N 2 0 1 3 Ehssan Taghavi T I R G A N F E S T I VA L R E AC H I N G F O R T H E S U N Mohsen Taghavi 5 R E A S O N S W H Y I LOV E T I R G A N Steve Tabrizi J O U R N E Y TO T H E E A S T : TA L K S W I T H PA R V I Z TA N AVO L I Joobin Bekhrad E D I TO R ’ S Q U I C K N OT E S The latest on Tara Gerami; Manelli Jamal; Soheil Parsa; the Encyclopaedia Iranica, and Firouz Naderi
ARTICLES IN PERSIAN A B R I E F G L I M P S E AT I R A N I A N F E M A L E A R T I S T S T H R O U G H T H E AG E S Aydin Aghdashloo A JA M ! Shaghayegh Oghbaei FROM TORONTO TO TEHRANTO EVERYONE AWAITINTHE TIRGAN FESTIVAL Nasrin Almasi ARASH: THE OPENING PERFORMANCE Nasim Maserrat T H E V I S UA L A R T S Gholamhossein Nami A N O B I T UA RY TO S A D E G H T I R A F K A N Proshat Javid T H E A R A S H AWA R D Katayoun Sabet T H E T I R G A N F E S T I VA L : T H E C R OW N I N G AC H I E V E M E N T OF THE ÉMIGRÉ IRANIAN COMMUNITY Mohammad Tajdolati T R AC I N G T H E T E C H N I C A L S P E C I F I C AT I O N S A N D E VO L U T I O N O F P E R S I A N P O E T RY F R O M T H E C O N S T I T U T I O N A L R E VO L U T I O N TO 1 9 7 9 AMIR MAHIN
13-07-11 12:27 AM
T I R G A N M AG A Z I N E 2 0 1 3
TIRGAN A F F I L I AT E S STUDENT ORGANIZATIONS Iranian Students’ Association of Ryerson University (ISARU)
Persian Cultural Center San Diego Persian Cultural Center North Carolina Iranian Alliances Across Borders
Iranian Association at the University of Toronto (IAUT)
Farvardin Cultural Center
Iranian Student Association at York University (ISAYU)
Iranian Women’s Organization of Ontario
McMaster Iranian Students’ Association (MISA)
COHAN Behnam Foundation of Ontario
Iranian Students Association of Waterloo (ISAW)
Magic of Persia
Nawranj Iranian Association (NIA)
Iranian Legal Profes
Columbia Iranian Students Association (CISA)
ARTISTIC GROUPS Arya Entertainment Inc.
Iranian Students Association of Queen’s University (ISAQU)
American Foundation for Contemporary Iranian Art (AFCIA)
Persian Students in Stockholm (PerSiS)
Iranian Student Association University of Ottawa
Small World Music
Fanni Alumni Association of Ontario
Iranian Student Association North Carolina State University Lakehead Iranian Student Association Iranian Association of Laval University FOUNDATIONS Parya Trillium Foundation Persian Cultural Foundation Levantine Cultural Center Hakhamaneshian Farhang Foundation Center For Iranian Modern Art Mehrgan Foundation Iranian American Society of New York NY Persian Parade Inc. Alternate Dreams Edinburgh Iranian Festival COMMUNITY & PROFESSIONAL GROUPS Iranian Canadian Congress
Link Music Lab Queen Gallery
Bagher Moazen, IranianCanadian classical guitarist and composer
Mehrzad Boroujerdi, Professor of Political Science, Syracuse University
Haideh Moghissi, Professor of Sociology, York University
Touraj Daryaee, Professor of History, University of California Minoo Derayeh, Associate Professor of Equity Studies, York University Ali G. Dizboni, Associate Professor of Politics, Royal Military College of Canada Ali Dolatabadi, Professor of Mechnical Engineering, Concordia University Nazila Fathi, Reporter at New York Times Saeed Gazor, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Queen›s University Ramin Jahanbegloo, Professor of Political Science, University of Toronto Mehdi Javanfar, Musician, University of Toronto
Yahya Kamalipour, Professor and head, Department of Communication, Purdue University Calumet
INDIVIDUALS Niayesh Afshordiv, Assistant Professor of Astrophysics, University of Waterloo
Korosh Khalili, Associate Professor, University of Toronto Department of Medical Imaging
Majid Ahmadi, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Windsor
University Health Network and Mount Sinai Hospital
Afsaneh Alavi, Clinical Associate and Lecturer, Department of Medicine (Dermatology), University of Toronto Farhad Azadifar, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Mansoor Barati, Associate Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Toronto
Iranian Canadian Real Estate Professionals
Mojdeh Baratloo, Adjunct Associate Professor of Architecture, University of Colombia
Toronto Iranians Community Group
Sohrab Behdad, Professor of Economics, Denison University
Cyrus Bina, Professor of Economics, University of Minnesota
Mohammad Mehdi, Khorrami Professor of Persian Studies, New York University Mariam Khosravani, Founder & President, Iranian-American Women Foundation
Fariborz Mokhtari, Professor of Political Science, National Defense University in Washington DC Ali Reza Montazemi, Professor of Information Systems, McMaster University Nima Naghibi, Associate Professor of English, Ryerson University Nader Namazi, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, The Catholic University of America Gholamhossein Nami, Visual Artist Arezoo Osanloo, Associate Professor of Law, University of Washington Nasrin Rahimieh, Professor of Comparative Literature, University of CaliforniaSaeed RahnemaProfessor, York University Behzad Razavi, Professor of Electrical Engineering, University of California Pardis Sabeti, Associate Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University Farrokh Zandi, Professor of Economics, York University Ehsan Yarshater, Professor Emeritus of Iranian Studies, Columbia University Shahram Yousefi, Professor of Electrical Engineering, Queen’s University
Ali-Akbar Mahdi, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, Ohio Wesleyan University Bita Milanian, Executive Director, Farhang Foundation Pardis Minuchehr, Assistant Professor of Persian Studies, George Washington University Ali Moayedian, Founder of Payvand.com
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WE HAVE ALL CERTAINLY COME
A VERY LONG WAY Let them look to the past, but let them also look to the future, Let them look to the land of their ancestors, but let them also look to the land of their children. – Prime Minister Wilfred Laurier, 1909
We have all certainly come a very long way. Careening the dance between the land that dazzled and enraptured one’s forbearers, and a latter day terrain that acts as the pivot for the inspirations and yearnings of one’s children is undoubtedly daunting. It requires that new arrivals develop what the eminent Canadian thinker Charles Taylor has elegantly referred to as the “mobility of horizons”. Few would venture to suggest that the cascade of new arrivals on Canadian shores over the centuries have been anything but sturdy and steadfast.The golden thread weaving generation after generation of immigrants beckoning to this country has been individuals endowed with gritty determinations and instilled with the firm conviction that diligence and hard work would inevitably make for better tomorrows.The pattern admits of no exception, and Iranians can stand tall and proud that they have heeded such an essential reality to contribute to the evolving experiment that is Canada. In Canada, we have found a vast expanse of land inhabited by the gentlest of souls. It is also a land receptive to safeguarding the contributions of the many and that cherishes industry and enterprise.Yet the experience of Iranians immigrating en masse to Canada has hardly been of long duration. Nonetheless, Iranian-Canadians have come a long way in several decades to leave indelible marks on our new home that belies the modest stretch of years they have settled in Canada.What we have contributed is much greater than simply diversity.
In the past several decades an eclectic mix of Iranians have arrived in Canada that eventually calcified into the IranianCanadian community. First, were students arriving in the 1970s with the intention to return to their country of origin who reconsidered after their homeland fell on hard times; then there were those fleeing after the Revolution of 1979 to take shelter from the dogmas ravaging their country, followed by refugees who sought a safe haven from political reprisals, and young men seeking a safe harbor from military enlistment in the IranIraq war, and more belatedly families who realized either that their talents would find more fertile ground here, or whose aspirations would meet broader horizons in Canada. Let it also be said that despite each of our individual travails, we have been generous in extending a helping hand to others. Tirgan 2013 represents the Iranian Canadian community at its boldest and most audacious. It should come as no surprise that Iranians in Toronto host the largest Iranian festival devoted to the arts and culture to be found anywhere in the world. In its breadth the Festival appeals to the many, while months of preparation ensure that the festival has the depth to cater to the most discerning of tastes. It also marks the high watermark of our community’s Commitment to put its collective shoulders to the wheel to unveil a rich spectacle. It offers a colorful four day tapestry that stitches together the energies of hundreds of inspired and committed volunteers, to the talents of scores of artists and
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performers, and the financial generosity of numerous individuals and entities. As with any worthy celebration,Tirgan 2013 also provides a fitting opportunity to take stock of the milestones that have marked our community’s decades long organic evolution in Toronto. Despite the influx that commenced three decades ago, in the early days most new arrivals must have been struck by the dearth of a social and civic infrastructure to allow us to harness our ability to assist one another or to cater to our collective sentimental yearnings, either small or large.Yet rather than succumb to indifference, many stoically pulled together to turn a new chapter.While Iranians have proven keen to integrate into every fold of Canadian society, they have also banded together and summoned the compassion to assist one another. It took many intrepid pioneers to light the candles of hope, rather than curse the darkness when Toronto lacked any hint of an Iranian imprimatur. Their contributions would ensure that our fates were indivisibly enmeshed into the fortunes of this great city, our home. The accommodation of our collective longings, and our ability to mark our gratitude for Toronto by reciprocating with our own contributions, owes much to the fortitude of innumerable individuals who imparted color and inspiration to the rich and diverse canvass of Toronto. All such pioneers should be saluted for building the granite of hope beneath our feet that dares us to dream bigger collective dreams. As the eminent Persian poet Sadi has suggested, “In golden letters ’tis written in a crystalline sky: good deeds will live, all else will die.” The first enduring initiative to ease some of the heartfelt challenges encountered by many newcomers was the establishment of extracurricular Farsi language classes for children within the community. Having arrived in Canada by the early 1970s, Bahram Parsi possessed the foresight and fortitude to open the doors to the first Farsi classes for children and young adolescents at Bloor and Christie in 1980. Admittedly, not all students dropped off at the premises during weekends proved their pleasant best, but surely they would reap the rewards of having gained facility in a new language years later. Soon other tire-
less personalities such as the late Rita Bayat, Shahin Bassiji and Parvaneh Missaghi coalesced with Bahram Parsi to ensure that such classes were similarly made available at other locations such as Mississauga, Scarborough, North York and Richmond Hill. The endeavor continues to this day. As can be expected, celebrating Now Ruz also emerged as an obvious reason for Iranians to mark the spring equinox together. In 1982 such early pillars of the community such as the eminent late Dr. Mahmoud Hafezi who had first settled here in the 1950s, joined others such as Fred Kasravi, Professor Nosratollah Ameli, Dr. Mohammad Raoufi, Majid Pazouki, Anvar Irani, Dr. Ayoub Mosanen, Hossein Sheikholeslami, and Dr. Abbas Hadian, who has likely tended to more Iranian patients in this city than any other, to form the Ferdowsi Foundation to provide Iranians the opportunity to celebrate the Persian New Year at the Bayview Country Club in 1982. As Samira Mohyeddin, the daughter of the current driving force behind the annual event Zarrin Mohyeddin, recently remarked at the 31st Annual Ferdowsi dinner in 2013, the initial convenors were comprised of a sufficient number of doctors to establish a hospital, but settled instead for spearheading an initiative to allow us all to celebrate alongside one another. Also worthy of note was the establishment of the New Day Cultural Foundation by Susan Ekrami, Parviz Foroughi and the late Professor Cuyler Young.The group soon found a keen supporter in the then Chancellor of the University of Toronto, the late George Ignatieff who endorsed the objectives of their Foundation by memorably stating,“We are inheritors of all the civilizations of all the many continents from which our multicultured population emerged to become Canadian. For several successive years beginning in 1986, the Foundation convened large gatherings at the University of Toronto at which no less a distinguished figure than the incomparably refined then Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, the late Lincoln Alexander, addressed the attendees to thank Iranians for the many contributions they were making to their new home. Next to appear as a fixture on the social calendar of throngs of younger Iranians by the late 1980s, were Now Ruz parties convened
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by student associations at the Universities of Toronto and York, and what was then referred to as Ryerson College.Today, the number of organizations catering to hundred of Iranians every spring to celebrate Now Ruz are too numerous to mention. Since then these student associations have blossomed into deep reservoirs of good will that have sprung into action on every occasion our community has faced a challenge, by transforming themselves into the organizational backbone for our greatest leaps as a community. Iranian inspired initiatives focusing on the life of the mind or endeavours capable of firing our imaginations mostly lay in abeyance for the first decade after a sizeable number of Iranians arrived in Toronto. To the extent that plays or speaking engagements were occasionally held during this periods, they were one off deals that never amounted to more than a handful of events in a good year. Among the personalities who earned his way into the hearts of hundred of Iranians residing in Toronto was an ebullient Shahram Saremi who could invariably be found among the ranks of event organizers showcasing critically acclaimed movies at the Science Center or inviting artists residing in far off lands to visit Toronto to deliver lectures or performances in our midst.As Saremi recalls,“it was imperative that we instill a sense of community and pride amongst us, especially insofar as younger members of our community were concerned”. It would still require time for the community to be afforded the opportunity to regularly spread its wings. Capturing the pangs of restlessness, rather than accept that self actualizing required patience, the soon to be wildly successful entrepreneur Hamid Kouchak recalls scribbling in his personal notes soon after arriving in Canada in the late 1970s, I await the opening of my wings, I enthuse a flight I await the opening I feel as though this is the moment of metamorphosis I endure the miseries of this imprisoned cocoon, in anticipation of my inevitable flight. Throughout the 1980s only two Iranian civic organizations were founded on sufficiently solid foundations to weather the many challenges that lay ahead, and have endured to this day.While many organizations have sprung to life, this article focuses only on those still with us today.The first one out the gate was Kanoon Mohandes established in 1988.A triumvirate of engineers and architects consisting of the late Abdolmajid Badie, the late Professor Khosro Keighobadi and Javad Hassanein kindled the initiative by sending out invitations to contacts among Iranian engineers and architects to found an organization.They must have been pleasantly surprised when no less than 150 Iranian engineers and architects convened in North York that year to attend the founding meeting of the group.The prodigiously methodical Jafar Amini, who served as President of the group from 1991 to 1992 demonstrated great promise in elevating the organization’s profile by leaps and bounds, yet recalls today,“what proved immensely satisfying was providing Iranian engineers and architects opportunities for mentorship and assisting our members sit for the P.Eng. designation or to update their computer literacy skills.” Similarly, the charming and energetic Esmaeel Zahedi who emerged as the driving force behind the organization between 2001 and 2005 recalls,“among my proudest moments was reorienting the organization’s attention towards recruiting members among Iranian engineers graduating from Canadian universities, encouraging women to assume a majority of positions
on our Board, and establishing scholarships for the next generation of engineering students following in our footsteps.” The next durable civic organization to be established in the following year was the Iranian Women’s Organization of Ontario (“IWOO”) in 1989.The founder of the group could not have been anyone other than the unflappable Ms. Homa Rouhi-Sarlati. Having led an inspiring life in the Iranian public service before the revolution, rather than mull over how she had served as a deputy minister in earlier days or attended United Nations meetings in New York to advance women’s causes, in Toronto she focused her new found energies on charitable work by assisting Iranian women and the elderly. Decades after the founding of the group Ms. Rouhi-Sarlati could be found volunteering at IWOO until her untimely passing earlier this year.To this day the organization continues to spearhead an array of worthwhile initiatives under the leadership of an indefatigable coterie of tireless volunteers. What also kept the embers of the community alive were a number of Iranian media outlets. Each ensured members of the community remained apprised of significant developments.Today the Toronto market can boast several weekly newspapers serving the bustling Iranian community. Apart from such pillars as Iran Star, Salam Toronto, Shahr Ma and Shahrvand, Iranians can even take pride in a recently launched English language magazine called Persian Tribune. As the colourful Kiumars Rezvanifar the editor of the Persian Tribune explains, “as the community grows so do its needs and demands.We now face a new demographic called Canadians with Iranian parents raised here who are highly educated and engaged at every level of Canadian society”. Similarly, one may cite a number of Persian language television stations. Arguably, the first Farsi language program produced in Canada to achieve a large audience was produced in the late 1980s starring Hossein Farahani who adopted the fictional surname Mr. Mohajer (“Immigrant”) for his sitcom broadcast into Iranian households on weekends via City TV.The success of the program likely spurred the establishment of Iranian TV stations.Today members of the community have occasion to indulge in programs carried by IC Television, Iran Zamin, Passargad, Pejvak and Ten TV or to tune in to such resonant radio stations as Radio Javan; Radio Roya or Radio Seday-e Iran. While all such media outlets do not subscribe to the same perspectives, and hints of repartees among them are common, as they should be and can be expected among media groups found anywhere in the world, each has proven unfailing in publicizing events organized by the widest array of Iranian organizations. Each has also proven unfailingly supportive when developments pulling on our heartstrings overwhelm us all, whether it be in the aftermath of volcanoes occurring in Iran that shake us to our very cores, in particular the Bam Earthquake of 2004, or when developments in the aftermath of the disputed Iranian presidential elections of 2009 cast a long shadow on our wellbeing.The same reality holds even closer to home when municipal authorities announced approximately a decade ago that Chehar Shanb-e Souri celebrations were to be halted, or when a young member of our community required a bone marrow transplant in 2011.The clarion call by the media regarding the possible cancellation of Cheharshanb-e Souri celebrations encouraged many Iranians to circle their wagons to assume responsibility for hosting 14,000 attendees at Edwards Garden and to ensure such public festivities would be permitted to continue. Similarly, the more recent challenge of finding a suitable bone
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marrow donor led Ms. Farah Amoli of the Iranian Cancer Society to organize a broad campaign in which countless Iranians stepped forward to provide cheek swab samples. Even more recently when an article appeared in the Canadian media claiming that the ancient Persian Empire was afflicted by systematic xenophobia, a number of Iranians pulled together and assumed the expense to publish an advertisement in one of Canada’s leading daily newspapers to rectify the historic inaccuracy. It is also interesting to note that among the most successful television programs to make it past scramblers in Iran is one financed and masterminded by an Iranian Canadian entrepreneur living in this country, albeit Andisheh TV is broadcast out of California. One may also highlight eminent media personalities who at one point partook in the hustle and bustle of the Iranian community in Toronto: Maziar Bahari has served as a gifted reporter for Newsweek and recently authored a riveting best selling book; for many years Nazila Fathi offered her elegant prose and hard hitting analysis to the New York Times, Nikahang Kowsar’s creativity as a cartoonist has graced various publications, Maryam Aghvami produces top notch writing for Voice of America, while Bahman Kalbasi now interviews American President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for BBC Farsi with much aplomb. Hard to believe, but for much of the 1980s the only eating establishment to specialize in Persian cuisine was Darvish, a small restaurant located at the not so terribly convenient intersection of Bloor and Dundas.While the number of Persian restaurants to open their door to clientele soon mushroomed across northern Toronto, demand among mainstream Torontonians has proven sufficiently robust for quite a few popular Persian restaurants such as Banu, Darbar, Pomegranate, Sheherzade and Takht-e Tavoos, can now be found nestled in some of the toniest locations in the heart of down town Toronto. Other culinary delights to make an entrée in Toronto in earlier days to conquer quivering palates were barbari bread first baked by Garni bakery in the 1980s, and delectable pastries first produced by Shirinisara in 1991.Today we can all marvel at the wealth of Iranian delicacies available in Toronto, and find specimens of Shirinsara’s artistry at no less an exclusive retailer than Pusateri’s Fine Foods.While for much of the 1980s a Lebanese owned store by the name Nasr located at Lawrence and Kennedy was the sole purveyor of spices deemed staples of Iranian cooking, the number of Iranian owned grocery stores are now too numerous for anyone to maintain they can provide an accurate count. Mirroring the burgeoning fortunes of Iranian eating establishments, culinary delights and grocery stores, has been a sea change in the number of Iranian-owned businesses. In the 1980s the sole Iranian-owned businesses to likely have fired the imagination of many new Iranian arrivals where malls in western Canada owned by the storied Ghermezian brothers, originally hailing from Iran, the Jelveh family’s success in transforming a once sleepy neighborhood into the most cached quarters in Toronto after amassing a real-estate empire in the Yorkville neighborhood, and an ever present chain of optical retail stores masterminded by the business prowess of a soon to be anointed Sir Karim Hakim. A more recent addition to nationally recognized brand names in Canada was a retail giant originally founded and managed by a brilliantly enterprising Iranian, referred to as the Future Shop. By 1980, likely the only well known contribution by any Iranian to the skyline of Toronto was a young engineer by the name
of Jamil Mardukhi who assisted in constructing the CN Tower. Today construction projects bearing the names Shane Baghai and the imprint of aesthetes such as the Ghadaki brothers and Saeid Aghaei of the Times Group dominate the Toronto skyline, while Fred Darvish’s managerial acumen in constructing the Liberty Development Corp or Pegah Construction Group are familiar to all. Leaving aside such towering achievements, are the innumerable businesses, large and small, that dot the Yonge Street corridor in Northern Toronto as far as the eye can see. Spotting the name of faculty members with names hailing from Iran at various universities and colleges or hospitals in Toronto have become so common that they no longer even invoke a momentary pause by any Torontonian. Moreover, the Central Montessori Schools ably managed by an Iranian family extend the academic horizons of thousands of promising children on a daily basis, while signs bearing the name Goldline can be found at every convenience store, and detecting the name Heydary among the masthead of Canadian law firms aggressively vying for the attentions of all Torontonians hardly make us flinch.
“IN GOLDEN LETTERS ’T I S W R I T T E N I N A C RYSTA L L IN E S KY: G OOD D EEDS W I L L L I V E , A L L EL SE W I LL D I E .” ~SADI
With the rising tide in the fortunes of Toronto’s Iranian community came a precipitous rise in the number of organizations serving the manifold needs of members of the community. Approximately ten years ago a number of second-generation organizations were created that have adopted innovative approaches to ensure that such groupings were not solely comprised of members of a specific profession. In 2001 Agora was established to hold weekend public forums open to all at the University of Toronto. As one of founders of the group Professor Ramin Jahanbegloo, explains, the group was inspired by a “Socratic devotion to inquiry” and allowed participants to hold forth on philosophy, the arts and social sciences.While one would never have known given the many heated debates that ensued, many members of the group maintain close friendships to this day and retain their public-minded zeal. Another group to focus on building bonhomie among members of the community was Torontoiranians first established in the same year.The group engaged in such activities as hiking, walking tours, and camping, but always rallied to assist with a variety of worthwhile initiatives. Mohammad Sheikholeslami the founder of the group suggests,“the purpose of our group was to build camaraderie among members of our community to facilitate the integration of newcomers into the fabric of our new home through recreational activities, and organizing social activities to tackle and assist with a host of worthwhile community initiatives.” A particularly worthy initiative to emerge from the group is an an-
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nual convening at the Royal Ontario Museum to celebrate Iranian heritage day orchestrated by Behnam Esfehanizadeh. Both Agora and Torontoiranians also stepped in to the new age by making an e-mail list serve available to their respective membership to allow them to remain connected. Another organization to make a big splash in the last decade by drawing from a cross section of distinguished professionals on its Board of Directors was the Iranian Canadian Network established in 2004. For some time the organization held monthly events with hundreds in attendance. In turn, proceeds from such gatherings, were directed towards providing mentoring services to newly arrived professionals. As Tina Tehranchian, the first Chair of the Board of group explains, after partnering with a well-established employment agency, “IC Network was able to offer the first ethno-specific and jobspecific group mentoring program of it’s kind in Canada by connecting experienced mentors of Iranian origin with newcomer professionals in a formal group setting.” The current President of IC Network, Reza Ghazi maintains,“much remains to be done, and it is incumbent upon our organization to forge ahead despite the many new challenges bound to appear on the horizon.” Another worthy off shot of the group is I.C.Youth which stick handles a number of innovative programs geared towards enriching the lives of younger members of our community. In addition to the aforementioned groups, today an alphabet soup of organizations are laying the foundations for a more cohesive, interconnected and caring community one brick at a time. Apart from the Parya Community Centre directed by Ahmad Tabirizi which has progressively developed a full slate of programs, one after another, for various stakeholders within our community, one can detect a bevy of other organizations brimming with hope and toiling to serve such as Baharan; the Cyrus Foundation; Farvardin; Hambastegi; the International Centre for Human Rights (“ICHR”); the Iranian Association at the University of Toronto (IAUT”); the Iranian Book Club; the Iranian Builders Association; the Iranian Canadian Cancer Society; the Iranian Canadian Community Council (“ICCC”); the Iranian Canadian Congress (“ICC”), the Iranian Canadian Cultural Foundation (“ICCF”); the Iranian Canadian Lawyers Association (“ICLA”); the Iranian Immigration Consultants Association; the Iranian Legal Professionals Organization (“ILPO”); the Iranian Mortgage Brokers Association, the Professional Iranian Canadian Real Estate Associations (“PICRA”), the Iranian Student Association of Ryerson; the Iranian Student Association at York; the Iranian Translators Association; Nawranj; No Deportations to Iran (“NDTI”), the Persian Circle; the Shab-e Jom-e social club and weekly academic seminars at the University of Toronto with an open door policy diligently convened by an ever gracious Professor Mohammad Tavakoli-Targhi. All such organizations undertake work and projects with missionary zeal. As with many earlier collective efforts, such endeavours depend solely on the time and dime of their founders. As Fereidoon Zahedi suggests,“I recall that when Ambassador Ken Taylor returned to Canada after shepherding American diplomats to safety, he turned his attention to paving the way for many Iranians to come to Canada. He often extolled Canadian officials to assist by suggesting Iran’s loss would rebound to Canada’s gain. I suppose no one could possibly question Taylor’s rationale today.” Similarly, looking back on developments that have marked our odyssey, Hossein Zereshkian, who has had a hand in the creation of several Iranian civic organizations,
offers “during the first and second wave of Iranian immigration, maintaining a community identify was a dream for many. Several organizations were formed, some failed and some continued, yet what I witnessed regardless of such inevitable ups and downs was that the vision never dimmed. I am happy to see it now flourish in organizations such as Tirgan”. As an affable Ramtin Sotoadeh, who has poured his heart in to many collective efforts over the years reminds us,“not to be forgotten is the crucial role our children raised here have assumed by acting as ambassadors of goodwill among all Torontonians.Their success and achievements irrevocably anchor and bind our loyalty to Canada.” All such organizations are what are proverbially referred to as “a thousand points of light.” Each should be saluted for endowing us with irrepressible hope.We can also take comfort in celebrating the achievements of a cultural luminary such as Jian Ghomeshi, a public personality in Reza Moridi, a recipient of the Order of Ontario for scientific achievement in Hadi Mahabadi, and countless others that represent the best and brightest of Canadian society.We all arrived here with an abundance of hope and much remains to be done. One would shudder to imagine the many heights more members of our community will have scaled in the next three decades. Speaking on behalf of the Tirgan Family, Mehrdad Ariannejad, suggests,“We are much indebted to many earlier individuals and Iranian organizations for having shone a bright light and demonstrating the fortitude to cement our community together.” Let us all raise a toast to our hallowed new home that has given us a kaleidoscope of bright lights, endowed us with a spirit of camaraderie, and much more to be grateful for. May we all continue to aspire, and continue to be inspired.
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8.5” x 11”
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THE HOPE ANTHOLOGY WITH HOPE “BEING” THE OVERARCHING THEME OF THIS YEAR’S TIRGAN FESTIVAL, WE THOUGHT IT WAS HIGH TIME TO ASK SEVERAL EMINENT PERSONALITIES TO SHARE THEIR PERSPECTIVES ON THE ESSENCIAL NATURE OF THE CONCEPT FROM A MULTI-DISCIPLINARY VANTAGE POINT.
ANOUSHEH ANSARI ENGINEER AND THE CO-FOUNDER A N D C H A I RWO M A N O F P R O D E A SYST E M S . I N 2 0 0 6 S H E B E C A M E T H E F I R S T I R A N I A N I N S PA C E . SHE SERVES AS THE HONORARY CHAIR OF TIRGAN 2013.
I believe that we live in a time that may become the pivot point for the history of mankind. Never before have humans had such immense potential to build or to destroy, to grow or annihilate, or to give life rather than propagate death. Over centuries we have mastered skills and technologies that have provided us enormous power and brought us, in many ways, closer together. However on our way here, we have lost something precious, something that affects us to our very core and determines our actions… We have lost HOPE! Our media seems to feed on bad news even when good news abounds. Even when a spotlight is cast on the good news, at the end we are warned that bad news may be lurking just around the corner. From the climate and our environment, to the economy and political stability, the media overwhelmingly paints a grim picture of the future. However there is a flip side to this picture often left out, and that is our youth and their infinite power to change this all. We live in a world with the incredible individual resource of ingenuity with our youth having learned how to harness such power. All we have to do is to guide them to utilize this power for good. It all starts by first giving them HOPE.We must have faith in them and help them imagine a brighter future.We have to teach them the essential human values of dignity and
“ H O PE BEGINS IN TH E DA R K, T HE ST UBBOR N HOP E THAT I F YO U JUST SH OW UP AN D T RY TO D O T H E RIGHT THING, T HE DAW N W IL L COME.”
respect. Respect for each other and for our common environment ... respect for life.We have to help our youth see a different world; a world filled with mysteries and possibilities. A beautiful peaceful world with no boundaries - and then empower them to be the change they want to see in the world. If we encourage them to imagine this beautiful world, then I know they will create it. Imagination is the key but as adults we tend to lose touch with this precious and unique gift we have. Growing up, my mind was filled with possibilities of a future where starships would be flying to every corner of the universe. A future with time machines and parallel universes and teleportation and a United Federation of Planets. I was fascinated by these possibilities. I was fortunate enough to spend 11 glorious days in space. I saw Earth as a beautiful blue ball in the darkness of space and felt its warmth and energy. Let me assure you, there is nothing like it. From up there you see one earth, one home for us all.The only thing separating us from each other are bodies of water, and the only thing keeping us from instant death is the thin glowing blue atmosphere surrounding us. When you look at the Earth form up there, you gain a new perspective.You can see how insignificant we are, compared to the universe that surrounds us. It is also an empowering experience because everything seems so small.You feel that anything is possible and changing the world does not seem such a daunting task. I often go to lectures and talk to young people all over the world to share what I saw from up there.When I do, I can see the sparkle in their eyes and the smile on their faces. And that’s when I believe most firmly that there is HOPE for a brighter future. //
~ A N N E L A M OT T
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RAMIN JAHANBEGLOO P R O F E S S O R AT YO R K U N I V E R S I T Y W H E R E H E S E R V E S A S T H E N O O R VISITING CHAIR IN ISLAMIC STUDIES. EARLIER THIS YEAR HE RELEASED H I S L AT E S T B O O K , T H E G A N D H I A N M O M E N T.
HOPE FIRMLY EMBEDDED IN IRANIAN CULTURE
Every culture has a distinct history, part of which is hope. For it is a fact, that hope in one way or another is indispensable to any community, whether it be a nation or simply two individuals struggling to improve their collective lot.While Iran may often appear as a political entity comprised of hopeless individuals, it actually represents a culture of hope. As with any ancient civilization inspired and enriched by the bounties of nature, Persian culture has often excelled and in certain instances surpassed other cultures in ascribing a worthy traditional meaning to hope by expressing it as that which helps us transcend our endless challenges and darkness. Given this reality, it goes without saying that hope is integral to the ancient Persian affirmation of the fundamental nature of reality. In the Gathas, the visionary and ancient Iranian prophet Zoroaster sets out to secure both material and spiritual welfare to the world.
master of Persian poetry, Hafiz of Shiraz says:“I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being.”As such, hope can be the expectation of the betterment of life in the face of despair, yet is not limited to individual or social terms, but engages with a wider experience of life beyond the sole fulfillment of needs and aims.As Omar Khayyam emphasizes in his Rubaiyat:“The Worldly Hope men set their Hearts upon Turns Ashes--or it prospers; and anon, Like Snow upon the Desert’s dusty Face Lighting a little Hour or two--is gone.” Khayyam sees an inconsistency between a seemingly senseless existence and a complex and orderly world.As such, for him, hope resides in this world; and does not require an unnecessary or unwarranted leap to another world or so-called supernatural world. In a similar vein, modern Persian poetry always accomodates a consciousness of hope by opening new horizons. For example, NimaYoshij’s poem “I Gaze Waiting forYou”,is fulfilled with hope and expectation despite its immersion in a landscape of despair. Nima lucidly stresses this sense of anticipation in the following words:“At night, in that moment when the valleys sleep like dead snakes, In that turn when the nuphar’s hand entraps the foot of mountain cypress, If you remember me or not, I never forget you, I gaze waiting for you....at night”.To Nima, hope’s worth is not measured in terms of good and evil. Instead, its value is viewed as an event oriented to the future. Since hope neither ever passes into certitude nor bears upon a future, it is built upon patience. Essential to the idea of patience
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He utters his hopes in the following prayer: “So may we be like those making the world progress toward perfection; May Mazda and the Divine Spirits help us and guide our efforts through Truth; For a thinking man is where Wisdom is at home.” (Yasna 30.9) There are number of characteristics to this conceptualization of hope in the philosophy of Ancient Iran. First, as derived from Ahura Mazda, hope is unquestionably a good thing. Second, hope is meant to have a transformative effect on individuals.Third, hope is linked to the future, which, as promised by Ahura Mazda, is good. Last, but certainly not least, hope is forward-looking, forward-moving and a positive principle for troubled times.The truth is that the concept of hope in Iranian culture relates to the spiritual and internal resources a human being can summon, rather than beckon to the possibility of help presented by socio-political and external institutions.The unparalleled
is to wait for a mythic hero who embarks on a quest to gain understanding, before returning home with wisdom to fully flourish in a world filled with melancholy and injustice. Such a perspective is also accentuated by Forough Farrokhzad, who emerged as the rebellious female poet of contemporary Iran, in her poem “Someone who is like no one”. Someone will come, I know. Someone is coming, Someone else, Someone better, Someone who is like no one! Someone who is not like my daddy,And is not even like my mom. Someone who is not like Ali,And is not like Sara. Someone who is like no one-But like the one who “ought to be”.As we can see, Farrokhzad celebrates hope as a state of creative transcendence. In other words, hopefulness is not simply a way of seeing or acting, but of being. It indicates the ability to keep hope alive by ensuring that it revitalizes our lives.Therefore, vital to the celebration of hope in Iranian culture is a recognition of its role in providing what is needed to endure hardship and despair while promoting resourcefulness and the expansion of agency.This is certainly one thread that links all habits of hope during different periods of Iranian history. For Iranians the capacity to hope has been shaped by the very essence of their historical destiny, which, depending on its differing moments and experiences, has provided space to hope and for hope.As such, hope has left more than footprints in the Iranian culture- it has spurred legacies, histories and creativities. Maybe that is why we bear responsibility to continue the legacy of hope in Iranian culture and history; it requires no less than our active commitment and effort to nurture it. //
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SHAHRZAD MOJAB P R O F E S S O R AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F TO R O N TO W H E R E S H E T E A C H E S AT T H E D E PA R T M E N T O F A D U LT E D U C AT I O N A N D T H E O N TA R I O I N S T I T U T E F O R S T U D I E S I N E D U C AT I O N .
THE PEDAG OGY O F H O P E The world is closing on us! This is a heavy, threatening, and enclosing thought and sensation. It is, nonetheless, based on seeing and thinking through the blinding visibility of war, violence, and poverty and the stupefying invisibility of ideological forms of deceptions such as ludic appropriations of “democracy,” “inclusivity,” “diversity,” “justice,” or “peace.” As a pedagogue, I am aware of this emotional and political burden every time I enter a classroom; the burden of unpacking the world as lived by a majority of vulnerable people, and the urge of remaining critical and ethical to the current complexities and historical legacies. Let me explain this opaque opening statement by recounting a pedagogical encounter of years ago (see my chapter on “Race and He, then, added that my passion for social justice and change had overwhelmed him. Pondering on his comments, I reflected on my own classroom practice and wondered why and how I failed to confront and interrogate the prevailing cynicism, complacency, and despair in the classroom. I contemplated how to improve my pedagogy in order to remain critical but overcome cynicism. I found inspiration in the work of great revolutionary teachers who encourage the convergence of critique and the cultivation of hope for building a different world (among them, Paula Allman, 2001. Critical Education Against Global Capitalism: Karl Marx and Revolutionary Critical Education.Wesport, Connecticut: Bergin & Garvey and Paulo Freire and Ana Maria Araújo Freire, 2004. Pedagogy of Hope: Reliving Pedagogy of the Oppressed. London, New York: Continuum).They argue that in this integrative pedagogical model, hope makes dreams and desires for change possible and amenable; and eventually we all can become, like Cornel West, a “prisoner of hope” (Boynton, Robert S, 2007.“Cornel West,” Rolling Stone, November 14). The pedagogy of hope helps us think dialectically and historically; it exposes the analyses which (re)produce the condition of oppression, exploitation, and subordination; it contributes to the understanding of ethical responsibility for change and resistance; and most importantly, it is a pedagogy of passion, care, honesty, transparency, and collectivity. In other words, the pedagogy of hope is a revolutionary pedagogy for transforming the
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class,” in Tom Nesbit (ed.) (2005), Class Concerns: Adult Education & Social Class. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass: 73-82). I designed an undergraduate course on anti-racist and feminist education and decided to frame the course within the critical epistemology of praxis. This meant a course to engage students in the theory/practice nexus of race, gender, class, patriarchy, capitalism, and colonialism. In an academic environment where the dominant teaching norm is ‘neutrality’ and ‘objectivity,’ some students felt that my analysis was too ‘political’ and I was too ‘critical’. One day, a mature, White, male student, interrupted me and exclaimed, “Do you ever get up a day and simply say what beautiful sunshine! Is there sunshine in your life?” Bewildered by his comment, I asked him to explain.
unsustainable status quo. If we are to teach students, learners, and activists, as I do, to hope for and dream of different worlds, we must convince them that we are not totally free from the constraints of necessity, that is, the existing structures of power. This means to understand that we have partial freedom to reform necessity, that is, to try to make the world more inclusive, diverse, democratic, or non-violent. This partiality of freedom prolongs the conditions of inequality and (re)produces unequal power relations. To put it differently, the critical pedagogy should go beyond the condemnation of the present to offer an alternative vision of the future that captures the imagination and deepen the desire of students/learners for change. This is desirable and essential for revolutionary social transformation. This pedagogy should disturb the complacency of students/learners and encourage them to venture out of their comfort zone of identity and body politics and cultural relativist position. Hope is essential in planting the revolutionary seeds for change; hope is ethical, moral, liberating, and “gives meaning to the struggle to change the world… Hope as a form of pedagogy, confronts and interrogates cynicism, the belief that change is not possible or is too costly. Hope works from rage to love” (Norman K. Denzin, 2009, “Critical pedagogy and democratic life or a radical democratic pedagogy,” Cultural Studies, 9 (3): 385). In my teaching practice, I often encounter the yearning of politically committed students
for immediate change; a quick fix of the evils of the world. This rush of desire for curing the world without first deeply understanding it is a huge problem. The structure of power apparent in the state, market and civil society has mustered the art of depoliticization of the youth through philosophically and practically sophisticated mechanisms of cooptation, political disengagement, enhancing the technology of surveillance and repression, and the persuasion of satisfaction with a culture of reform. The everyday moments of living this world, from the streets and farms to the small screens of the social media, offer much for despair. The ecocide of our beautiful planet and the ubiquity of war and destruction leave little hope to hope for. It is, however, this necessity, that is, the materiality of helplessness that can be transformed into hope. This is possible because reality or necessity is created not by nature or supernatural beings but constructed consciously by us human beings. What is done can be undone though only through conscious intervention; an intervention which can move away from the appearance or surface and delves into the essence or depth of obstacles such as war and poverty. This cannot be achieved through legal reform or cultural and linguistic experiments only; it is a primarily political undertaking. The question is simple, but profound: can we put an end to hunger, violence, poverty, racism, colonialims and ecocide? Hope is embedded in a determined positive answer. //
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M O H A M A D T AVA K O L I - T A R G H I P R O F E S S O R O F H I S TO R Y A N D N E A R A N D M I D D L E E A S T E R N C I V I L I Z AT I O N S AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F TO R O N TO A N D S E R V E S A S T H E E D I TO R I N C H I E F OF IRAN NAMEH.
THE CYRUS CYLINDER AND THE CYROTOPIAN HOPE On the occasion of Rosh Hashana in September 1971, Lotfollah Hay (b. 1917), the head of the Iranian Jewish Council to address his “Iranian Jewish sisters and brothers” with the following request: When you gather in synagogues, open the Holy Book of Torah and read Chapter One of Prophet Ezra and Chapter 45 of Prophet Isaiah; once again you become aware of the spiritual and celestial splendor and magnificence that the Lord has bestowed upon Cyrus the Great. Cyrus’s liberation proclamation concerning Iran and Babylon and the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem were truly the first declaration of freedom in the history of humanity.
In this call, Lotfollah Hay, who had served as a Jewish representative in the Iranian parliament, further explained that the holy books of the Jewish prophets were “the trusted guardians of the invaluable and ancient foundation,” established by Cyrus the Great.A couple of years after Hay, another Jewish deputy,Yousef Cohen, addressing his parliamentary colleagues remarked, Whereas a quarter of a century ago the world [community] was compelled intellectually to issue the declaration of human rights, twenty-five centuries ago the founder of the Iranian imperial ethos not only declared but also enacted the principles of human rights. It is for this reason that the Iranian nation considers Cyrus’s historical proclamation as the most illuminating page of its golden and glorious history . . . If Iranians are today recalling their past with pride and gratification, it is not because of its conquests and victories; but because the Iranian order at its inception was distinguished by its respect for human rights.
This rights-based account of Iranian history was fundamentally different from the earlier modern historical narratives which were based on assertions of racial and linguistic purity. Unlike such Aryan and Persian purist accounts, which were disseminated in the earlier part of the twentieth-century, the coupling of the Cyrus Cylinder with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights made possible the telling of a multi-confessional, multi-ethnic, and multi-lingual civilizational narrative. Instead of lamenting the pre-Islamic past as a lost archaeotopia, this tolerance-based civilizational account synthesized the pre-Islamic and Islamic pasts into an organic and other-accommodating Cyrotopia (Cyrus+utopia). While highly selective, this Cyrotopian future was informed by biblical and historical accounts of Cyrus’s distinctive mode of governance. Iran’s sizable Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian, and Baha’i religious communities along with other diverse ethnic and linguistic social formations, provided the lived and experiential foundations for this civilizational political hope.
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While Cyrus had been hailed as a just king in Persian historical sources, the biblical accounts, coupled with the 1879 discovery of the Cyrus Cylinder, made this Achaemenid ruler doubly distinctive in modern historical narratives. In 1929, for instance, the historian Hassan Pirnia (1871-1935) explained that Cyrus’s ascension (559-530 BC) had led to an “ethical revolution” and to the establishment a “modern mode” of relating to other nations. Fakhr-al-Din Shadman (1907-1967) in a 1941 essay likewise distinguished Cyrus’s tolerance-based mode of governance from other governmental systems. Baqir ‘Amili (1912-1998), a two-time Minster of Justice, similarly found concordance between the Cyrusian revolution in governance and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. ‘Amili explained that the Cyrusian Revolution in governance was founded on “care, affection, and attention, and in general on the governance of hearts.” It was due to this significance that Cyrus’s revolution in governance “was cited in the holy books of Jewish religion.” Referring to the drama of Cyrus’s birth as recounted in Xenophon’s Cyropaedia, ‘Amili remarked, “It is significant that a person whose rights were violated, and who was condemned to death prior to birth, was so life-approving for humanity.” Explaining the common tenor of Iranian civilization, ‘Amili further elaborated that “Iranian education or, even better, Cyrusian education . . . which never left the people and the nation of Iran, was based on truth-seeking and justice-loving. After citing numerous verses to this effect by Firdawsi, Sa‘di, Hafiz and Hatif Isfahani, ‘Amili explained, “If it would be possible to interrogate our hearts, it would be evident that human-adoration and love are engrained in the soul of each Iranian.” ‘Amili, who had recently returned from the United States, observed that the hippie counter-culture and the slogan of “make love, not war” greatly resemble the “love that is pervasive in our literature,” “a love that transforms men into humans . . ..” Concluding his lecture on human rights and the enduring Cyrusian education, ‘Amili argued that respect for humanity, acceptance of equality and brotherly behavior, which is pervasive in Iranian literature, is evident in the axiom,“caritas toward friends and tolerance of foes [ba doustân morovvat ba doshmanân mudarâ].” Instead of solidifying Iran’s multi-confessional social fabric, the experiment of linking the Cyrus Cylinder with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights unleashed a counter movement that highlighted the primacy of Iran’s Islamic identity. With the intensification of opposition against the Shah, one could argue that the Cyrotopian discourse on human rights ironically hastened the hegemony of an Islamic confessional identity. Despite the failure of the Cyrotopian experiment, the ability to offer a multi-confessional and multi-ethnic account of Iranian civilization and culture remains the central challenge and hope for a tolerant and democratic Iran. //
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T I R G A N M AG A Z I N E 2 0 1 3
FA R I B O R Z M O K H TA R I P R O F E S S O R AT T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F V E R M O N T W H E R E H E T E A C H E S I N T E R N AT I O N A L R E L AT I O N S , P U B L I C P O L I C Y A D M I N I S T R AT I O N , P O L I T I C A L E C O N O M Y A N D P O L I T I C A L P H I L O S O P H Y. H E W I L L B E PA R T I C I PAT I N G AT T H E T I R G A N 2 0 1 3 I N A Q U E S T I O N A N D A N S W E R S E S S I O N O N H I S C R I T I C A L LY A C C L A I M E D R E C E N T B O O K , I N T H E L I O N ’ S S H A D O W : T H E I R A N I A N S C H I N D L E R A N D H I S H O M E L A N D I N T H E S E C O N D W O R L D WA R .
propelled Cyrus’s universal glorification. He is said to have created in eleven years the largest empire that the world had ever known; the first ever multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-faith state from Libya and Turkey in the west to Afghanistan in the east.As has been suggested by John Cutis of the British Museum, the system of governance Cyrus invented brought the area we call the Middle East today 200 years of stability. I wrote a book titled In The Lion’s Shadow:The Iranian Schindler And His Yet he is praised for his tolerant governance, executive leadership, Homeland In The Second World War, first published in November 2011. cultural synthesis, and fostering unity. Even if the attributes to Cyrus are It begins by recalling that Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) exaggerated, they are only reflections of a collective vision: an idealized had concluded in the nineteenth century what the Iranian poet leader to emulate. One may look back even further to find the aspiraMoslehodin Sa’di (1194-1292) had reckoned 600 years earlier in the tion to do what is right just because it is the right thing to do, expressed thirteenth century, that humans have the capacity to share others’ pain, by the Prophet Zoroaster’s dictum: Good words - Good Deeds - Good for in moments of crisis they spontaneously realize the unity of all life. Thoughts. It is my contention that the aspiration for what Aristotle Sa’di put it in verse as follows: called the good life—a life well lived—to elevate ourselves as human All humans are parts of one being; beings, is rooted in hope. All in creation are of one origin. Zoroaster’s call for a continuous campaign against evil implies hope. When fate allots a single part pain, Cyrus’s hard work to build an empire of justice, tolerance and comity, No rest for other parts may remain. If unperturbed at grief of a fellow man, suggests optimism. Iran’s rise after the Arab and Mongol invasions You are not worthy of the name human. would not have been possible without hope. Consider the horrors of the Mongol conquest and the Iranians’ capacity to turn them into The book is about numerous Jewish families trapped in Germanpromoters of Iranian culture in five decades! occupied Paris in WWII, saved by an Iranian Muslim diplomat.That Iranians have survived repeated disasters, devastations, defeats, diplomat, the late Abdol Hossein Sardari, represented a nation, a culture occupations and exploitations throughout their long history and yet and a government. Facing tremendous difficulties he resolved to do reasserted their culture. Iranians have many characteristics and what was right rather than expedient, even after his own country numerous achievements of which to be proud.To be fair and frank, I had been wrongly invaded and occupied by the Allied Armies. More respectfully submit that there are also a few that ought to be reconsignificantly, he was not the only Iranian diplomat to do so.Abdollah Khosravi in Rome, Italy and Rahmat Ataabaky in Beirut, Lebanon for sidered! But there is an unbroken thread that links them all to the instance, had done the same.Astonishingly, none of them desired praise, principles on which their country was founded.What has sustained for they believed they had performed their duty, reflecting their general that powerful connection is irrepressible hope, and relentless pursuit of beauty for it approximates perfection. Nowhere is this revealed more national sentiment. That culture of tolerance may be traced back to their ancient country’s clearly than in the arts. Hope, I contend, is imbedded in the Iranian soul and is the key founding.The famed Cyrus Cylinder is evidence of the Iranian King’s to its thriving survival.There are the daily political or economic proclamation in 539 B.C., possibly the very first declaration of human disappointments of course, but the cultural reservoir of hope trumps rights. It is worthy of note that the Founding Fathers of the United all. The common Persian expression “this too will pass—in neez States studied Xenophon’s Cyropaedia closely in their quest to create bogzarad,” is an ever-true reminder that it is so. Hope and resolve are a new system of governance different from the European kingdoms illustrated in a poem by another Iranian poet, Shamsodin Mohammad they knew well. John Adams had a copy published in 1613 and made Hafez (1315-1390) who summarized tomes of lessons in diplomacy his son John Quincy read it in Greek at the age of thirteen.Thomas and international relations in a couplet in the fourteenth century, Jefferson had at least two copies, and when in Paris in 1787 sought a most relevant to the toil of today’s policymakers. modern Italian translation. I wager that few Americans are aware of Cyrus’s influence on the design of the U.S. government. Peace of the two worlds, these two words infer: With foes, tolerant, with friends, be fair. Recently the Cyrus Cylinder went on exhibit in the United States, This wine-soaked robe, Hafez didn’t choose to wear, on loan from the British Museum in London, and was viewed by O’ Eminence, your cloak so pure, absolve us, do care! 155,000, or on average 3,000 visitors daily. At a symposium in WashLet us hope that the drumbeaters of conflict replace coherence for ington DC on April 27, 2013, some scholars proposed that the Cyrus violence long enough to absorb this cultural message of peace, Cylinder, then on display at the Sackler Museum, was a Babylonian document written in the Babylonian style, and that all conquerors had tolerance, fairness, and of course beauty. May the Tirgan Magazine and Festival succeed in promoting the best of Iranian culture not only for portrayed their victories as liberation. Interesting as such propositions Iranians, but for all humanity. // may be, that which is of supreme importance is the ideal that has
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H O U R A YAVA R I S E N I O R R E S E A R C H S C H O L A R AT T H E C E N T E R F O R I R A N I A N S T U D I E S AT C O L U M B I A U N I V E R S I T Y A N D S E R V E S A S T H E A S S I S TA N T E D I TO R O F T H E E N C YC L O PA E D I A I R A N I C A .
HOPE A N D T H E IMAGI N E D WO R L D OF M OD E RN P E R S I A N L ITERAT URE The tale of hope and its reverberation in the western literature begins with a modest box given to a woman created by the gods and bestowed with surpassing beauty, charm, graciousness, curiosity, and cunning.The woman’s name was Pandora, or ‘all gifts’. She was sent down to earth to release upon the world all the misfortunes and hardships that they could conjure. Pandora was told never to open the box. She opened it and all the ailments that it contained were released. Only Hope remained inside the box. It is perhaps not too far fetched to perceive the highly celebrated myth of Arash the Archer, a tale in celebration of hope, honor, and national pride, as the very first rendition of the theme of hope in Persian literature.The tale, recounted in the Avesta, and further detailed in Islamic sources, is also linked to Jashn-e Tirgan, or rather,Ab-rizan, an ancient Persian festival in celebration of rains and thunderstorms that avert drought and boost harvest. Hope, whether invisible in the darkest corner of Pandora’s box, or highlighted in the arrow shot by Arash beyond the farthest point of the land, has not only enabled humankind to go on living despite all misfortune, but has also survived as an iridescent vision in the dark heart of the annals of history, resurfacing in art and literature in innumerous attires ever since.
“ HOP E HAS TWO B E AUTIFUL DAUGH TER S, THEIR NAMES ARE A N G E R A N D CO UR AG E , ANGER AT T HE WAY THING S AR E AND CO U R AGE TO SEE THAT THEY D O NOT R E M A IN AS THE Y ARE ” ~SAINT AUGUSTINE
With the passage of time, however, further alterations were introduced to the perceived concept of the literary utopia in Iran, generating a more studied and critical approach toward history and culture. Discarding the nostalgic image of a glorified past, on the one hand, and the permeated ideals of an imported just society, on the other, the contemporary Iranian writers and poets have increasingly forced upon themselves the task of reinvestigating the very foundations upon which the interrelated concepts of history, culture, identity, and by extension, past and present have rested. Seeing history and culture as continuous rather than distinct concepts, dialectically related rather than diametrically opposed, they challenge to deliver a radically altered concept of history and selfhood. And more importantly, neither the writers nor their audience, so vigorously participate in the discourse of ‘Truth’ and ‘Reality’, as implicitly claimed by their predecessors, and instead, challenge to provide new possibilities for the interpretation of ‘truth’ and ‘reality’, rendering it as always ephemeral, and obscure, and inviting their readers to
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A comprehensive survey of the theme of hope in Persian literature is beyond the scope of the present article. It is interesting to note, however, that the genesis of modern Persian literature is inseparably linked to a noble hope, to the dream of the very first Persian intellectuals and political activists of the late nineteenth century to introduce change and to modernize their homeland. And more interestingly, many of these turn of the century intellectuals tried to realize their dreams by composing poems and writing fictions. Contemporary Persian literature offers rewarding evidence to an unwritten pact between the writer and the reader that implicit in any piece of literature is the definition of the world that the work at hand embarks to delineate. Charting the long path this imaginary world has taken from the last decades of the nineteenth century to the unfolding years of the twentieth, demands further surveys and rewards innumerous interpretations. The literary utopia, as perceived by the first modern Persian poets and novelists and eagerly welcomed by their audience, was blessed by the narrative of a glorified past, an aestheticized pre-Islamic myth, which was determined by principles of exclusion. Such glorified and seductive heterotopia in a virtual past stood in opposition to the period’s fragmented present.And the perpetuation of its mythologized “truth” became an integral part of the era’s collective search for self-identification and identity reconstruction.The participants in the discourse were captivated by the hope to remodel the present by decoding the mysteries that the passage of time had produced, and resurrecting the lost elements of knowledge about that distant but “real” past. Nostalgia pervaded the period’s literature, in both poetry and prose. It did not take long for the intellectuals and writers of the period to find it increasingly difficult to draw upon the segmented temporal episodes of a distant past in the constitution of a viable modern identity, and soon cast off romantic nationalist sentiments along with any redemptive possibility such sentiments promised. The respite did not take long. Soon after the First World War imported Marxist ideologies, which promised a just and classless society penetrated the pages of literary books and forever altered the foundations of the imagined world of literature.The outlook of the newly arrived utopian paradigm, and the development of its inhabitants into politically laden fictive characters, swept the nation’s literary imagination.
appreciate and live with the inherent ambiguities in the world. In contrast to the simple rendition of the imaginary world in the mid-fifties, the Persian novelists and poets in recent decades have increasingly grown receptive to the complexity of human existence.They provoke the readers to apply a more critical approach to interpreting the world, to question grand narratives and absolutist notions of history, to play a more active role in the realm of imagination, and to participate, hopefully, in a more egalitarian discourse with the world. Contemporary Persian literature is now marked by dynamic experimentation with techniques of narration, choice of plot, imagery, and structure. In line with recent trends in modern Western literature, contemporary Persian literature while avoiding repetitive moralizing and unnecessary embellishments, reminds the readers that change in a society is always preceded by change in the private lives of its citizens, and dares to rearticulate the noble hope of the very first Persian intellectuals and political activists, who dreamed to modernize their homeland. //
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AFKHAM MARDUKHI P R E S I D E N T O F T H E I R A N I A N W O M E N ’ S O R G A N I Z AT I O N O F O N TA R I O ( “ I W O O ” ) S H E A L S O W O R K S I N TO R O N TO A S A R E S E A R C H E R , C O M M U N I T Y D E V E L O P E R , S O C I A L A N D C I V I C A C T I V I S T A N D P R O F E S S I O N A L FA M I LY A N D YO U T H C O U N S E L O R
HOPE P R O P E L S AN D S USTA I N S C HA N GE I feel privileged to write on behalf of the Iranian Women’s Organization of Ontario-IWOO, one of the longest-standing Iranian institutions in Toronto to have served members of our community from all walks of life since 1989. Over the years, we have proudly continued to serve our community by helping women with their unique struggles and in restoring their human rights. The theme of “hope”, adopted by the Tirgan Festival this year has nurtured IWOO’s vision for many years and remained the cornerstone of our outlook. The uncompromising focus of our work is to assist thousands of community members fulfill their potential, and to seamlessly integrate their lives into new settings
community build a better future for herself, for every child to achieve its full potential, for every senior to live a dignified life, and for every family to thrive and feel supported. Our core belief is that irrespective of the barriers we face, such exalted objectives are attainable. Members of the Iranian community started to arrive in Toronto, as with many other cities around the globe, with greater frequency in the post 1979 period. Changes in Iran’s political system had transformed their homeland and prompted may Iranians to explore the option of immigration. This influx of newcomers prompted several Iranians who had previously experienced living abroad who were driven by altruistic intellectual and moral convictions, to step forward to act as bridges to facilitate our diaspora’s greater engagement with Canadian society at large. As the community grew in numbers and needs, our definition of service and accommodation also expanded. Institutions such as ours had to diversify the services we offered, and navigate the challenge of consolidating our membership base. As an organization, we have strived to set an example by fostering a culture of diversity, equity and respect for all. Much as any other successful civic organization on the front lines of wrestling with myriad social challenges, instilling and nurturing hope in a better tomorrow is at the forefront of our agenda. We must all subscribe to collaborative work models. Embracing the spirit of joint ventures
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so as to allow them to achieve economic, social and political equity. We are strongly committed to breaking the silence on violations of women’s rights. Silence must end on violence against women, on inequality, on discriminatory civic and family laws, on permitting gender-based practices to continue, on objectifying women, or on using young girls as bargaining tools.To this day, hunger, unemployment and poverty affect women and children in disproportionate numbers, thereby diminishing the potential of half the world’s population. Neither should there be shame associated with examining the compliance of our cultural practices with prevailing norms. Our dream continues to remain to help every woman in our
has allowed our organization to remain relevant, present and active, effective and efficient. Building alliances and fostering partnerships with other organizations strengthens us all. Forging a convergence of values is bound to contribute to a stronger, more caring and inclusive milieu for all. In the diaspora, we must encourage each member of our community to pursue further education, engage in civic movements, and share their knowledge, good fortune and aspirations with others. Hope in the future is embedded in our every day practices, as we embrace our new home and seize the many opportunities it offers. We must all demand progressive and inclusive social agendas as we pursue constructive steps to build here in Canada. We must also allow our children to begin the journey of transitioning, contributing, identifying social initiatives and translating their most inspired deeds into actions. We are at a pivotal moment for IWOO, much as our community is at a critical juncture in its evolution. We must all collectively contemplate next steps to invest in our community. Dialogue must be maintained amongst all civic organizations as we endeavor to develop respectful platforms of communication. A shared commitment to equity and social inclusion will allow for the emergence of new frontiers that align and enrich all our varied strategies. We must all commit to relearning the ropes of working together in spite of our
differences of opinion and engage in collectively building and strengthening a civil society for our community and beyond. Building trust, holding conversations, identifying gaps and finding common ground among the varied civic organizations serving our community has become common. Joint ventures among various groups are growing in numbers and quality. Such inspired practices are also embedded in our community’s artistic and academic endeavors. Tirgan’s flourishing presence in our midst is a testament to the endless virtues of collaboration. This summer, for three intense days Tirgan’s biennial festival will return to Toronto’s Harbourfront to host an estimated 150,000 spectators. This magnificent undertaking owes to visionary leadership that has persevered to enlist the commitment of 300 vivacious and energetic volunteers, and the collaboration of 150 artists from a myriad of disciplines. The successful administration of this festival is also a testament to the deep cross-generational understanding and passion that informs Iranian culture and heritage. Such a sense of pride and felicitation should also extend to our city of Toronto for embracing diversity and promoting inclusion as a core value for safeguarding our extraordinary mosaic. It is with distinct pleasure that I salute the Tirgan 2013 Team for their soaring vision and wish them continued success in their grand undertaking. //
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THE REAL IRANIAN CULTURE, LIVES IN TORONTO! The biannual Tirgan Iranian Festival is upon us once again, and it is expected to draw a whopping hundred thousand visitors to the grounds and facilities of Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre this summer. “Tirgan” takes its name from the Iranian month of “Tir,” which is the first month of summer in the Persian calender. It traces its origins to the rich mythology of Iran’s pre-Islamic Zoroastrian past. Similar to previous Tirgan festivals, held over three days in late July, the bulk of the visitors will come from the Greater Toronto Area’s large Iranian community.They will be joined by thousands of non-Iranians who yearn to connect to one of the world’s richest and yet under-explored cultures, and by a sizeable number of visitors who descend on Toronto from near and far to explore the sights and sounds of Iran from half-a-world away. As the world’s most diverse city,Toronto’s open cultural space has provided an indispensable birthplace for the festival. It has been here that the highest circulation Persian language print media have flourished outside Iran, and where some of the largest Iranian studies conferences have been held. In the past quarter-century, the Greater Toronto Area has welcomed over 2 million immigrants, well over half of whom have come from East-, South- and West Asia. By almost all accounts, no other city-region has ever received as many people from across the world in such a short time. Over a hundred thousand people of Iranian origin now call the Toronto area home. By any measure, the Tirgan festival is a grand undertaking, the largest cultural event of the Iranian diaspora anywhere in the world. It features scores of world class Iranian artists who cover numerous genres of musical, performing, literary, and fine art. It offers a unique opportunity for Iranians to
reconnect to their cultural roots and to pass it on to next generations.And it allows the global citizens of Toronto to expand their cultural horizons to include a country whose political relations with the western world have become evermore fraught over the decades. In Canada, the U.S., and much of Europe, the political discourse on Iran remains dominated by the country’s controversial nuclear program, pushing Iran’s colourful heritage and cultural diversity out of sight. In such a tense environment,Tirgan’s organizers have taken bold steps to build bridges of cross-cultural understanding.And they have found the ideal host in Toronto. “While Iranians in the diaspora hold disparate political views, we are very much united in our appreciation for the richness of our history and culture,” says Mehrdad Ariannejad, Tirgan’s co-founder and CEO.“There is also a palpable thirst among the broader North American society for learning more about a land whose cultural and geographic beauty has been hidden under political clouds for far too long.” Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre, a federally owned public institution situated downtown on the shores of Lake Ontario, has been an ideal host for Tirgan since 2008, when the festival first burst on the scene.According to documents from the Harbourfront Centre,Tirgan is the best attended cultural festival among all multicultural events that are held there – such as the Philippine,Ashkenaz, Mexican, and numerous other festivals.The only summer event that draws more visitors is the iconic Canada Day celebrations of July1st, which is Canada’s most significant national holiday. Part of the reason for Tirgan’s popularity is the diversity and vibrancy of the Iranian diaspora in Toronto and beyond, who have left Iran in droves in the past
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few decades in search of opportunity and a more open cultural environment abroad. Since the revolution of 1979, the theocratic government in Iran has imposed harsh restrictions on cultural expressions that are deemed secular or “un-Islamic.” Even though women’s dance and singing have adorned Iranian culture for millennia, since taking power after the revolution, the country’s theocrats have forbidden such expressions of joy in the country. Upbeat pop-music and expressions of romantic love in cinema or other performing arts have been similarly banned, forcing a sombre mood on a people whose culture, if allowed to flourish, is among the most colourful and joyful in the world. This has merely added to the thirst for free expressions of Iranian national identity beyond Iran’s geographic borders. It is thus sweetly ironic for members of the Iranian diaspora that to take in authentic Iranian culture one has to go to Toronto – or “Tehranto” as the city has come to be known. Tirgan has inspired similar artistic activities in California, and in places as far away as Sweden, and even Australia. Even though the festival receives government grants from federal, provincial and municipal sources, and from a number of well-placed corporate sponsors, its real assets are the hundreds of volunteers who put in thousands of hours of work to bring the event to life. “What makes our all-volunteer staff uniquely potent as cultural translators is their deep knowledge of Iranian and Western cultures,” adds Ariannejad, the festival CEO, who is a senior IT professional at IBM in Toronto, and president of the Iranian Canadian Centre for Art and Culture, which produces the festival. Tirgan’s organizers have succeeded in the past in hosting top-ranked artists from Iran itself. Mohammad Reza Lotfi, a tar and setar virtuoso and vocalist, was among the prime attractions of Tirgan 2008, whose outdoor performance was attended by thousands. Directors Bahman Farmanara and
Kambozia Partovi, the actor Attila Pesiani, and the poet and art critic Javad Mojabi have all managed to overcome a myriad of obstacles to join past Tirgan festivals. In the presence of such Iran-based artistic masters, audiences are psychically transposed thousands of kilometers to the motherland.
“ W E A R E V ERY MU C H U N I T ED IN O U R A P P R EC I AT I ON F O R T H E R I C HN ESS OF O U R H I STO RY A N D C U LT U RE .” Yet such luck hasn’t always held up. In Tirgan 2011, the famed Iranian classical music group Rastak was prevented from leaving the country; similarly, despite official invitations and visa guarantees by the Canadian government, Hamid Motebassem, the renown composer and setar player, and Salar Aghili, the virtuoso classical vocalist, were not permitted at the last minute from coming to Toronto. Despite the best efforts of Tirgan’s organizers to keep the festival strictly cultural and away from Iran’s complex political scene, the challenges of bringing top artists from Iran to Toronto have shown that seemingly innocuous expressions of Iranian culture and identity are seen as decidedly political acts by Iran’s ruling clerical establishment, even if the artists themselves have no political intentions. Ultimately, Iran is where Iranians are, and given the pace of cultural change in the old country,Toronto’s present may well represent Iran’s not-too-distant future. //
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TORONTO A METISSAGE OF MUSICAL TALENT Toronto is home to very many distinct cultural riches and a potpourri of flavours and tastes. From the ‘Taste of Danforth’ (the Greek quarters) to the flavours of Little Italy or Chinatown, not only can you find delicious food, but a rich blend of street festivals and music.You can get anything from Hungarian schnitzel to Southeast Asian fare. The truly best time of year to visit Toronto is during the summer when most festivals take place, not to mention when the agreeable weather finally beckons. If you’re visiting in the summer, do as Torontonians do and dine alfresco. The rest of the year, you can find artists touring every nook and cranny of Toronto. For a subtle feel of Latin America you can frequent the Lula Lounge and partner up to salsa. If you want to catch a superb classical performance you can invariably find an inexpensive weekday ticket at Roy Thomson Hall or at the Canadian Opera Company. During the summer, you can also catch great classical music inspired from various corners of the world at the Harbourfront Centre Music Garden that was, after all, designed and inspired by Yo Yo Ma. The city is surely a hub for many musicians to visit, and just about every prominent artist has left their mark on the city. The famous Iranian pop star Googoosh commenced the tour that took her to various countries for the first time in 21 years in Toronto; various parts of Pink Floyd’s The Wall album was recorded here by the famous Toronto-born producer Bob Ezrin and numerous hit songs were recorded at the Metal Works Studios. Going back to the variety of flavours Toronto offers, I might as well recount my own experience. I was 16 when I moved to Toronto and like many other teenagers, started exploring sweet and sugary treats at the start and gravitated towards big and shiny pop culture (anyone remember the Big Shiny Tunes by the way?). Back then, and especially during my high school days, punk music was ever popular and I was hardly immune to the spell. Naturally, I tuned in to a lot of punk and ever so often found a band playing at the Opera House. Bands like NOFX, MXPX, Bad Religion, and Blink 182 were staples of my daily diet. If you have ever heard any of these bands you probably agree that I was hardly on a health diet. But then something drastic happened and surprise, I had experienced far too many fits of hangovers. Only then did I open my eyes to the multiple faces of Toronto as I began to acquire a taste for more varied cultural impulses, and especially ‘world music’. Lucky for me, not only did I discover such music
by splurging on an overdose of CDs, but by indulging in a passion for soaking up bands and other musical performances. The shift in my musical taste was so dramatic that I would make a prime candidate for scientific tests and inquiries. From punk, I metamorphosed into a hardcore Shahram Nazeri fan (Traditional Persian music singer). Therefore, I was ecstatic to hear many years ago that Nazeri would play at the then ‘Seneca College Theatre’. That incredible show emboldened my curiosity and started me on a journey to explore other musical venues available in Toronto. My introduction to West African music and experience of artists such as Salif Keita at the Harboufront Centre or watching the spectacle of Argentinian Bajofondo do Electro Tango at Mod Club, or being present when Natacha Atlas from Egypt performed at the Phoenix have been among the most riveting pleasures I have ever experienced. Of course no great show would be possible without a proper venue and an experienced programmer. Toronto offers great venues, and organizations like Smallworld Music, the Harbourfront Centre and Live Nation have masterfully elevated the resonance of musical variety in Toronto. To be frank, the city can be somewhat secretive, but it certainly offers gems for intrepid souls willing to hunt. And yes, the city does not have the best transit system either, but getting around Toronto hardly represents an insurmountable challenge. Due to Toronto’s mesmerizing musical variety, musicians can usually book themselves at favoured local venues with much ease. Many different genres of music thrive in Toronto, and do not necessarily compete with one another. Each musical strand lives peacefully alongside others. Nevertheless, many musical talents have soared in this city and excel at their own style. Bands like Lemon Bucket Orchestra (Gypsy brass), Minor Empire (Turkish Electro), Metric (Indie Rock), The Battle of Santiago (Afro Latin Post Rock) are just a few examples of the truly hip stuff emanating from Toronto. I dare say there is no competition here as the city welcomes an endless stream of artists. Shajarian can simultaneously regale at Roy Thomson Hall, while Tinariwen appears at the Mod Club for the first time through Smallworld Music, and Persian rock bands access Drake Hotel’s underground through Link Music Lab, all while Bulgarian choirs impress at St Andrews Church. Not to mention all the great free summer festivals like Luminato. Enjoy. //
M A H M O O D S C H R I C K E R I S B AS E D I N TO R O N TO W H E R E H E P R O D U C E S AND MAKES ELECTRONIC MUSIC INFLUENCED BY PERSIAN SOUNDS.
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SUNDAY IN THE PERSIAN KITCHEN WITH CHEF NAJMIEH BATMANGLIJ “ROSE PETALS ARE MY SIGNATURE,” D ECLARES NAJMIEH BATMANGLIJ AS SHE INSTRUCTS A YO U N G AIDE TO GARNISH A TRAY OF BAKLAVA WITH BITS OF DRIED FLOWERS AND GROUN D PISTACHIO NUTS. Batmanglij, the Julia Child of Persian cooking, is spending a rainy Easter Sunday in her capacious Georgetown kitchen teaching a dozen Americans the secrets of a cuisine that goes back 4,000 years and is one of the few things that binds Iranians inside and outside their native land. The menu for this Sunday lunch during the season of Nowruz, or Persian New Year, is mouthwatering. It includes osh-e reshteh, a thick herb and bean soup with long noodles that “bring good luck for the new year,” Batmangli says.The class will also help her make sanbuseh — puff pastries filled with ground lamb, onions and garlic and dusted with confectioner’s sugar, ground pistachios and the cook’s beloved rose petals. Also on the menu: chicken kebabs that have been marinated for three days before grilling and are served on a bed of flat lavash bread with tomato and cucumber salad, fresh basil and yogurt mixed with Persian shallots and garlic.This is followed by kuk-ye sabzi, a slow-cooked omelet filled with chopped green herbs that are also a symbol of Nowruz.The main course is pomegranate-infused leg of lamb roasted at low temperature for hours. It is served with baqala polow — basmati rice cooked in water flavored with turmeric, cinnamon, saffron, cardamom and rose water and mixed with fava beans and heaps of chopped fresh dill.The finale: Batmangli’s baklava and tea mixed with orange blossom water. Batmangli shows the class how to make sure that the rice doesn’t break or become sticky: It is tossed, not stirred, with the dill and then re-steamed in a pot whose lid is swathed in a dish towel. Saffron
mixed with a little rose water is liberally sprinkled over most of the dishes. “I share all my secrets,” an effusive Batmangli tells her pupils, whom she embraces one by one before beginning the class.Americans, she says, are growing bored with Chinese, Japanese and other too-familiar foreign cuisines.“Middle Eastern food is in,” she says — and Persian food, in particular. As a child growing up in north Tehran before the 1979 revolution, Batmangli was banished from the kitchen.“I always loved cooking,” she told Al-Monitor,“but my mother didn’t allow me in the kitchen. She said,‘you go to college and you can cook later.’” Returning to Iran armed with a masters’ degree in education, Batmangli said she showed her mother her certificate.“She said,‘Now you can cook!’ ” And cook she does, collecting recipes from different parts of Iran, including Shiraz, where her mother was born — which appears to account for Batmangli’s love of rose petals. She also finds inspiration in Persian history and literature Persian food, she notes, has inspired artists and poets for centuries, from the Thousand and One Nights to the works of Rumi and Omar Khayyam. “Rumi taught cooking,” she tells the class, referring to the 13th-century poet and Sufi mystic still beloved from Turkey through India and Central Asia. “He talked to the chickpeas in the soup.” Ingredients that were once hard to find in the United States can be acquired now in Iranian stores in the suburbs of major cities or on the Internet. They include sour-grape syrup, pomegranate syrup and kashk — the fermented
buttermilk which is a key ingredient in Batmangli’s noodle soup. Batmangli’s books — a new edition of Food of Life:Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies has just been published — are also popular in Iran.When I asked a friend in Tehran a few years ago for a recipe for fesenjan, a popular stew cooked with pomegranate paste and ground walnuts, she gave me a page from Batmangli’s 1992 edition. In the United States for more than three decades, Batmangli is especially gratified when the children of Iranian immigrants come to her to learn how to cook their ancestral cuisine. “Be the boss!” she admonishes Karim Sadjadpour, a noted Iranian American analyst in Washington who is attending class with several members of his family. Sadjadpour, it seems, was too tentative in mixing the filling for the sanbuseh. At a time of growing tension between the United States and Iran over its nuclear program and regional ambitions, Persian cooking is an apolitical bridge between cultures and a source of pride for all Iranians. “Food can be a way of diplomacy between nations,” comments Sadjadpour’s father Kamal, a neurologist who has been in the United States since the late 1950s. For Batmanglij, whom this author met during another moment of cultural diplomacy — the US tour of the Cyrus Cylinder, a 26-century-old artifact celebrating religious liberty — cooking is more than a profession. It is her mission.“When you get older, you have to teach people what you know,” she says. “It is your duty to be a mentor.” //
B A R B A R A S L AV I N WA S H I N G T O N C O R R E S P O N D E N T F O R A L - M O N I T O R A N D A S E N I O R F E L L O W AT T H E AT L A N T I C C O U N C I L , W H E R E S H E F O C U S E S O N I R A N .
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THE THIRD SPACE THE THIRD SPACE IS A GROUP EXHIBITION FEATURING A SELECTION OF WORKS BY SIX FEMALE ARTISTS OF IRANIAN DECENT, INCLUDING S OHEILA K. ESFAHANI, N EGAR FARAJIANI, GITA HASHEMI, E LNAZ MAASSOUMIAN, N AZ R AHBAR, AND SONA S AFAEI-S OOREH.
C U R AT I O N A N D T E X T B Y S A N A Z M A Z I N A N I
These artists work in media as varied as drawing, photography, collage, video, and sculpture. Collectively, their works address issues about life in the diaspora. Their projects masterfully explore cultural exchange; the in-between-ness that occurs as a result of dispersal from one’s homeland; and what may be gained by recombining these diverse experiences.Through their works, this exhibition aims to create a vocabulary with which we, as fellow citizens with similarly varied backgrounds, can attempt to untangle our own complex individual existence and to pave the way for looking towards a better, and more hopeful future. The Third Space is a hybrid of experiences. It is the juxtaposed “homeland” with the “settled land”; the “real” with the “imaginary”; and the “here” with
the “there”. It is all the experiences of an emigrant, the past and the present dynamically recombined to create a symbolic abstract space in our mind.The phrase,‘third space’, emerged from the writings of thinkers such as Homi K. Bhabha, and Edward Said to suggest a rupture with dualism in relation to concepts of ‘place, location, home, memory, identities, territory, and geography’ of diaspora communities. In this exhibition, The Third Space becomes a symbolic space for hope, where cultural transference is activated: an impermanent space where boundaries can be built and taken down, a psychological space where self reflection can heal; and a place where ones’ unique experiences can integrate to create a meaningful whole.
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Negar Farajiani Attorney, 2011 Courtesy of M.I.A Gallery
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SOHEILA K. ESFAHANI’S art navigates the terrains of cultural translation in order to explore the processes involved in cultural transfer and transformation. Cultured Pallets a series of large sculptures created out of wooden shipping pallets made with the purpose to carry commercial goods from one site to another site. For this installation, Esfahani has obtained over 100 wooden pallets and marked them with a variety of Persian motifs and designs. By inscribing these objects with culturally specific patterns, Esfahani focuses on the dispersement of cultural information that is constantly exchanged through commercial imports and exports on a global scale.The installation brings attention to the literal notion of translation, of objects moving from one location to another.The pallets represent a metaphor for the transfer of units of “culture,” to allow viewers to conceive the extent of cultural exchange that takes place on a daily basis in an era of globalization. NEGAR FARAJIANI looks at personal histories to uncover truths
around larger questions. In 2009, Farajiani developed the Puzzle series to address the confusion and mishmash of meanings in our daily lives due to globalization. On exhibit is a selection of her collage works, where she uses puzzle shapes to obscure and highlight detail.To quote the artist:“I believe that life is similar to a puzzle, making up our destiny, culture, political, and social life.” In this set of staged selfportraits, we see Farajiani as she moves through multiple states, changing appearances and sometimes disappearing into the objects that offer clues to her life. In these works,The Third Space is achieved when the disparate parts of entire puzzles come together to create a new hybrid. A new portrait formed by fragments of information gathered from varied geographies that combine to create a unique whole. GITA HASHEMI is a transmedia artist whose projects explore
the intersection between politics and the personal by investigating societal relations through the use of language. For The Third Space exhibition Hashemi will be debuting her recent project The Book of Illuminations. Comprised of nearly 40 panels, these works on paper look at how language can inform us of our own cultural shortcomings.This installation is presented as two interconnected series. The first, Life-Writing, includes multiple pages of the artist’s free-writing, uncensored ideas recorded on the paper appear unedited and vulnerable. The artist shares with us this performative process of writing informed by her personal experiences as an Iranian woman and an exile.The marks on the
page stand in for years of life, thought, dialogue, and engagement, symbolic of our own experiences.The second component of the installation titled Un/Sacred looks at the usage of words to help us see a relationship between our speech and cultural intolerances that are normally left unquestioned. One example uses the word “ɬƄŮǍŹ” which is a derogatory term that comes from the root word “ǁŮǍŹ” and means the longing for one’s homeland. But used as an offensive term, it takes on a new meaning and refers to that person as someone who does not belong, and does not fit into the norm.These terms shown here in proximity to the personal narration of the artist’s life writing speak to the expectations placed on us and the limitations of societal benchmarks. Hashemi’s The Book of Illuminations is a fresh approach to the long tradition of calligraphy from Iran and uses a feminist perspective to challenge this traditionally male-dominated, decorative practice by inserting the political into the equation. SONA SAFAEI-SOOREH’S work examines the differences
between languages and cultures. Her process often engages with lost meanings in translations, as she unpacks the possibility of communications across cultures through looking at the self and the feelings associated with otherness. In this exhibition, Safaei-Sooreh will display two works which respond to the meeting of two languages (English and Farsi). In Alphabet, the viewer finds herself in front of a split screen video as the camera tracks two alphabets being hand written in pencil – one in English, from left to right, and the other in Farsi, from right to left.A dense and textured sound enhances the experience of watching each gesture.The sounds from the left and right videos combine in a seamless collaboration. An amalgamation occurs precisely at the moment when the video loop comes to a close and both sets of alphabets have been written out tin their entirety. This charming momentary union marks an important occurrence, as the English alphabet includes 26 letters and the Persian alphabet 32, this serendipitous synchronicity signals a potential for cohesion of these two cultures. Safaei-Sooreh’s second work titled, Border is a dual channel video installation in which
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T H I S PA G E 1. Soheila K. Esfahani The Vagireh Pattern (detail), 2010 2. Gita Hashemi Theory of Writing, 2010 (panel 2 of 3) From the project The Book of Illuminations 3. Sona Safaei-Sooreh Alphabet, 2010 (video still) 4. Elnaz Maassoumian Untitled, 2011 Packing Tape and Plastic Wrap Sculpture 5. Naz Rahbar Spaces in Between, 2007 (detail)
two sets of texts on the subject of art intersect at the corner of a room. The writing disappears on the borderline where adjacent walls meet, creating a unique experience for the viewer, as the piece examines the duality of experiences always at play in transcultural situations. ELNAZ MAASSOUMIAN is an artist and architectural visualizer who explores
the physical spaces that define our daily experience. The sculpture on display in this exhibition springs from the artist’s readings of Gaston Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space. Untitled is a nest-like sculpture that explores the architecture of the imagination by considering the different aspects of space – both physical and metaphorical – which may change over time. Maassoumian opens for us the rich possibilities for redefining what is private-public, in-out, and visible-invisible. This ephemeral sculpture made from plastic wrap and tape contemplates space as a forum for action, imbued with the potential for isolation or connection. This
clear membrane sculpture, placed in the center of the exhibition brings attention to the divisions and boundaries we repeatedly encounter in our daily lives. Untitled is flexible, malleable and translucent, hence providing a clarity of vision often obfuscated by the walls and demarcations we build around ourselves. Through Untitled we can see the other side and may perhaps even imagine an alternative view. NAZ RAHBAR’S work explores concepts of home, memory,
longing, and belonging. Often autobiographical, she uses ink on paper drawings to speak about the constructed nature of identity. Here, miniature figures traverse the page, allowing the artist to explore the figure’s relationship to space and to one another.The drawings use negative space to visualize distances, and examine how even the smallest mark can activate an empty space. Perhaps these marks hint at our own gestures, actions, and decisions accumulated through the years.Tracing back to her elementary school years in Iran, the pieces tell abstract stories of distances traveled by plane and on foot, of relationships built and left behind, and of the fleeting memories that inevitably accompany such occurrences. The Third Space is a timely art exhibition showcasing works by Iranian artists whose exemplary projects punctuate the anxieties and complexities of living in a globalized world, and negotiating the hybrid identities that result from being multi-cultural. Each project investigates avenues through which we can grow to expand our perspectives by inviting us to look within to enhance our perception of whom we are and where we intend to go. //
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BOOK REVIEW OF
HAMID RAHMANIAN’S NEW
ILLUSTRATED SHAHNAMEH CAN PERSIAN MYTHOLOGY BECOME POPULAR IN THE W EST?
With the enormous success of the Lord of the Rings and the Game of Thrones franchises, or Greek tales turned into blockbusters such as Clash of the Titans and 300, it might be the right time. Written over a thousand years ago by Ferdowsi, the Shahnameh, is a classic narration of Persianate-world mythology that uses the same themes we see in recent popular fantasy books and TV series: wild and heroic quests, magical beasts, devilish monsters, passionate romances, contests over power, and monumental battles spanning centuries. The book recounts a long, mythical history of the Iranian people from the beginning of civilization and ends with the historical Arab conquest of the region in the seventh century. But the major part of Shahnameh is about the adventures of Iran’s most celebrated mythological hero, Rostam.The story has entered the canon of other great world epics, such as Gilgamesh, The Odyssey,The Iliad and the Ramayana. The Shahnameh has been adapted widely throughout the Middle East and Asia but mostly unknown in the West except in scholarly circles and amongst Iranians. Over centuries various adventures from the Shahnameh were illustrated in different forms and styles depending on the place the manuscripts were created. Copies of the Shahnameh, depicted by Persian, Mughal, and Ottoman artists, can be found in many museums from Istanbul to Los Angeles. These copies show us how Shahnameh stories were visualized over centuries and
how different peoples and societies in central and south-west Asia and the Indian subcontinent imagined them. Invoking the imaginary worlds of fantasy cinema and working with this history of illustrating the Shahnameh, the New York based artist, Hamid Rahmanian, recently created a new illustrated rendition of the Shahnameh.The 600-page book, translated by Ahmad Sadri, is titled Shahnameh:The Epic of the Persian Kings. Rahmanian’s new book is carefully combined, orchestrated and has assembled hundreds of miniatures, paintings, and lithographs of the ancient world of Iran, Mughal India, and the Ottoman Empire from the 15th to 19th century to create new illustrations for the book. The new illustrations contain scenes, like dreams and nightmares that have never been depicted in the older versions. Rahmanian describes his process of weaving thousands of elements to create the intricate illustrations as akin to editing a film or to a DJ making new music by mashing up old songs. Taking the visual elements out of their older context to assemble new images gives the illustrations a new meaning. In the new context these images not only narrate the Shahnameh’s stories but they also put different traditions of book illustration in dialogue with each other. The result is a unique space where one can enjoy a fresh visual narration of the stories while reading a selective juxtaposition of text that makes the book flow seamlessly like a finely edited movie. //
S O U R E N A PA R H A M I S A C O N T R I B U T O R T O T H E T E H R A N B U R E A U , A “ V I R T U A L ” O N L I N E B U R E A U C O N N E C T I N G J O U R N A L I S T S , I R A N E X P E R T S , A N D R E A D E R S A L L O V E R T H E W O R L D . F O U N D E D B Y E D I T O R - I N - C H I E F K E L LY G O L N O U S H N I K N E J A D I N N O V E M B E R 2 0 0 8 , T H E P O P U L A R T E H R A N B U R E A U S I T E M O R E R E C E N T LY E N T E R E D I N T O A N E D I T O R I A L PA R T N E R S H I P W I T H F R O N T L I N E , T H E P B S P U B L I C A F FA I R S S E R I E S , A N D I S N O W AVA I L A B L E F O R D O W N L O A D B Y A P P S O N I P H O N E S A N D I PA D S .
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BOOK REVIEW OF
IRAJ PEZESHKZAD’S NEWLY RELEASED “YAD-E YAR VA DIAR”
THE POPULAR IRANIAN ICON CONTINUES TO INTRIGUE Satire and comedy have always been the preferred Iranian means to lighten the heavy burden of oppression. At times when the prospect of finding a more fitting cure appears remote, laughing at misery remains the best antidote to ease the pain. Throughout their extended history, Iranians have had to endure the anguish of either remaining under the thumb or sword of numerous tyrannies. It is these extreme circumstances that have allowed satire to flourish as a painkiller. Having literary giants such as the 14th century author and poet, Obeid Zakani as a worthy forefather, satire gained respect and a worthy following to secure it pride of place in the mighty annals of Persian literature. In the early twentieth century during the tumult of the Constitutional Revolution, Iranian literature experienced the emergence of legendary poets and satirists like Iraj Mirza, Ali-Akbar Dehkhoda and Bibi Khatoon Astarabadi. Each invoked satire and utilized humor as indispensable tools to challenge the prevailing system and enlighten society.Their legacies thrived in the works of the next generation of authors such as Mohammad Ali Jamalzadeh, Sadegh Hedayat and Iraj Pezeshkzad. Arguably, none of these authors rival Pezeshkzad’s mastery in penetrating the Iranian collective psyche or influencing popular culture. Born in 1928, to a father who was a physician and a mother that served as a
teacher, Iraj Pezeshkzad was educated in Iran and continued his studies in France where he earned a degree in law. After serving as a judge for five years, he joined the Iranian Foreign Service and served as a diplomat until the 1979 revolution. He started his literary career in the early 1950s by translating and writing short stories for magazines. Soon thereafter, he commenced writing novels like Haji Mam-ja’far completed during a posting in Paris, Mashallah Khan in the Court of Haroun al-Rashid, and Asemun Rismun. Plays such as Adab-e Mard beh ze Dolat-e oost also soon followed. It was during a foreign assignment in Switzerland that Pezeshkzad completed his magnum opus, My Uncle Napoleon.The coming of age novel published in 1973 secured Pezeshkzad national acclaim and gained him the praise of critics that recognized his latest work as a cultural phenomenon. My Uncle Napoleon became a cultural reference point with resonant characters that remain national icons to this day. My Uncle Napoleon and its author attracted more attention after the book was turned into an extremely successful television series that captured the imagination of an entire nation. Since its publication forty years ago, the book has been read and admired by successive generations of Iranians. Although banned in Iran after the revolution, it is still recognized as a timeless cultural classic. To this day, it is often cited as “the most
important and well-loved work of Iranian fiction since World War II”. After opting for forced exile in Paris in the aftermath of the Iranian revolution, Pezeshkzad joined Shapour Bakhtiar’s National Movement of Iranian Resistance. Since then he has also written and published numerous books. Although he remains a powerful writer, Pezeshkzad considers exile destructive to creativity. He once claimed: “I am removed from my natural environment [Iran] and the inspiration I need to fuel my creativity is no longer accessible.” Among others he has cited his lack of motivation to the absence of feedback from other writers and the displacement and dispersion of Iran’s literary community.“What is the point of writing” he once suggested,“if you rarely receive a response to what you write?” His latest book “Be Yad-e Yar O Diar” was published and released several months ago. Pezeshkzad’s latest epistle consists of reminisces from his homeland and of recollections of friends and companions at different stages of his private and professional life.The collection of short stories once again allows Pezeshkzad to weave intriguing stories and offers readers his unique and meticulous perspective on the ebb and flow of life.The new book also confirms that Pezeskzad ability to masterfully intrigue and regale book readers remains intact. //
S A M A N A G H VA M I // P H O T O C O U R T E S Y O F ® PA R S T I M E S . C O M
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I FIGHT SO YOU DONâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;T HAVE TO
Serving the Persian community for over 20 years in cases involving criminal charges
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LEILI ANVAR DR. ANVAR IS A PROFESSOR IN PERSIAN LANGUAGE AND LITERATU RE AT THE INSTITUT NATI ONAL DES LANGUES ET CIVILISATIO NS ORIENTALES (INALCO ) IN PARIS WH ERE SHE IS ALSO THE HEAD OF THE IRANIAN LANGUAGES DEPARTMENT. APART FROM HAVING RECENTLY AUTHORED SEVERAL CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED BOOKS, SHE HOLDS A CHRONICLE DEDICATED TO LITERATU RE AND SPIRITUALITY IN THE MAGAZINE LE MO NDE DES RELIGIONS AND C O-HOSTS A WEEKLY RADIO PROGRA M ON SPIRITUAL ISSUES (FRANCE CULTURE). WE ARE GRATEFUL TH AT SHE AG REED TO SPEAK AT TIRGAN 2013 AND FOR UNDERTAK ING THIS INTERVIEW.
INTERVIEW BY ALI EHSASSI
YOU COMMENCED YOUR ACADEMIC CAREER AT THE PRESTIGIOUS ECOLE NO RMALE SUPERIOR, YET GRADUALLY SHIFTED YOUR SCHOLARLY ATTENTION TO RECEIVE A P.HD. IN PERSIAN LITERATURE. WHAT KINDLED YOUR PASSION AND INTEREST IN ANCIENT POETRY?
YOU ARE RECOGNIZED AS ONE OF THE LEADING EXPERTS ON RUMI. DO YOU SEE PARALLELS BETWEEN THE TURMOIL THAT MARKED IRAN DURING RUMI’S LIFE WITH THE INVASION BY THE MONGOLS, AND THE REALITIES W E CURRENTLY FACE.
When I was a child living in Iran during the Iran- Iraq war, the only leisure I had was to go to poetic gatherings with my father. At that time I did not quite understand what poetry was all about, but was fascinated by the beauty of Persian poetry. I was really moved to tears at times, especially when poems by Molana Rumi were read. I maintained this fascination and love when I moved to France. Although I first embarked on English studies, I could not forget the impression Persian poets had made on me. At the Sorbonne Nouvelle I first studied classical Persian literature as a hobby. In a way I became trapped in its beauty and intricacy and fell even more in love with it. In the end, I put an end to a career in English literature and decided what I really wanted to do is delve deeper into Persian poetry to understand why it had such fascination for me.
I certainly believe so. The century Rumi lived in were difficult times. The Mongols had destroyed the city of Balkh and all the Iranian territories were terrorized by the Mongols. The Caliphate itself was destroyed in Rumi’s time. So these were intolerant and violent times and a time also of religious wars. Individuals were killed for simply thinking the wrong thoughts. Therefore in many ways we can see a parallel with current times. Perhaps this is part of the reason why Rumi is so popular in our days. At the same time he seldom mentions the difficulties of his times as if he lived outside his own century. What was important to him was the inner life, although on occasion he alludes to the difficulties of his time. For example, he acknowledges that the Mongols have destroyed the world, yet suggests that amongst the ruins one may find treasures. Therefore, the harsher the conditions, the better for the development of the inner life. The possibility exists to create a garden inside one’s own soul.
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T I R G A N M AG A Z I N E 2 0 1 3
OF COURSE 2007 MARKED THE 800 TH ANNIVERSARY OF RUMI’S BIRTH. YET TO THIS DAY HE REMAINS INCREDIBLY RESONANT IN BOTH THE EAST AND WEST. ACCORDING TO SOME, RUMI IS THE MOST POPULAR POET IN AMERICA, WHILE FOR OTHERS IT IS DIFFICULT TO IGNORE RUMI’S EVIDENT APPEAL TO PHILOSOPHERS AND POP ARTISTS ALIKE. HOW WOULD YOU ACCOUNT FOR RUMI’S TIMELESS POPULARITY? I think Rumi can arguably be said to be the most powerful poet in the world. He is a deep spiritual thinker with unique experiences who provides insights into the inner journey of the soul. He represents an immense poet who knew what exact words to use to describe what otherwise would appear impossible to express. He is doubly powerful as a spiritual master and as a poet, and this has happened rarely in the history of literature.You may have great thinkers or poets, but very rarely are you presented with people who have such a depth of experience in spiritual matters, as well as a mastery of poetic form and music. I think this is the reason why Rumi is so dear to many people in the East and West alike. To go further, I would say that maybe our present times drastically need to hear of a spirituality free from dogmatism. Perhaps the reason why Rumi is dear to North Americans may relate to their educational interest in a spirituality that transcends religious forms.The transcendentalist philosophical movement initiated by Ralph Waldo Emerson and Walt Whitman, prepared North Americans to receive a message that is both poetically powerful and spiritually nourishing. I think our times fathom this because we are spiritually lost. We need someone to show us the way, and Rumi is wonderful in directing us towards what is invisible and difficult to express. When I say Rumi nourishes the soul I mean to suggest that he provides hope, he makes life joyful and meaningful. Reading his poetry is a remedy to sadness and despair.To those that understand Rumi, his religion is joyful. He presents spiritual matters in a very enlightened and happy manner, while also retaining incomparable taste. His image of God is never harsh nor dogmatic. He presents the divinity as one of love and provides hope that we can live up to the ideal of love.
THE EPITATH ON RUMI’S TOMB READS “WHEN WE ARE DEAD, SEEK NOT OUR TOMB IN THE EARTH, BUT FIND IT IN THE HEART OF MEN”. WHIL E SOME ARGUE RUMI’S ENDURING GENIUS LIES IN THE B EAUTY O F HIS SWEEPING POETRY, OTHERS SUGGEST THAT HE WAS PRIMARILY A PHILOSOPHER. O N WHICH SID E OF THE DIVIDE BETWEEN EXTOLLING HIM AS A LYRICIST OR PHILOSOPHER WOULD YOU PLACE YOURSELF. I would say that he was a lyricist with deep spiritual insight. He ridicules philosophers in various sections of the Masnavi, yet I do not believe it possible to separate his poetry from his spiritual wisdom. He is dear to our hearts because of the beauty of his words that can move us to tears. Had he solely been a philosopher, we would not recite him as often as we do. After all, nowadays, who reads the ancient philosophers as often as they do Rumi. The beauty of his poetry is its spiritual meaning, and what is beautiful in in his thought is that it could not be expressed in different word. That is why he stands so high both as a poet and a spiritual thinker. This precisely why he is unique in the history of literature.
SOME HAVE SUGGESTED THAT MANY OF THE VERSES OF RUMI’S MASNAVI ARE DIRECT TRANSLATIONS OF THE KORANIC VERSES INTO PERSIAN POE TRY. HOW ACCURATE ARE SCHOLARS W HO SUGGEST RUMI’S POETRY WAS PRIMARILY INSPIRED BY THE KORAN? He himself suggests in the Arabic preface to the Masnavi that his poem is the essence of the Koran. Therefore, we cannot deny that his thoughts and spiritual experiences resulted from his reading and interpretation of the Koran.
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It is evident throughout the Divan and Masnavi that Rumi is nourished by the text of the Koran. However, it should be added that he has a very specific and personal reading of the sacred text. He certainly has a hermeneutic approach, trying to decipher its symbols and metaphors. He does not have a dogmatic approach, although he is a Moslem and a Koranic thinker. For him however, being deeply rooted in the Koran does not mean to be dogmatic. On the contrary it means to be capable of interpreting the revealed text in multiple ways. Rumi has a very liberal and infinitely open way of looking at the tradition.
WOULD YOU SU G G EST TH AT RUMI I S P RI MA RILY EXTOLLING HIS AUDI E N CE TO Y EA RN FOR EARTHLY LOV E O R TO PURSUE SPIRITUAL A N D GO DLY REDEM PTION ? I would say that he invites us to understand that the reality of being is spiritual.This should not be taken to mean that we do not also have a material reality. However, even the material reality exists as a part of a more global, encompassing spiritual dimension. I would say that he is one of the rare Sufi authors to refrain from separating worldy issues from spiritual ones, even though the spiritual destination of the soul is the most important aspect of our lives. However, we must use the means provided us in this world to build our lives in the other world. It’s not a question of redemption, but of unveiling the truth. It’s not a question of good and evilor morals, but a quest for what is true.What is truly true! For Rumi the only thing that is real is the reality of love. He suggests at the beginning of the Masnavi that you have to begin somewhere and sometimes you may commence with earthly love. After all, earthly love will guide you step by step to the Origin of all love, the Source of all that is. He therefore never refuses the earthly experience in the name of a spiritual one. On the contrary, Rumi recognizes that spiritual experience has to be all encompassing and has to be nourished by our earthly experiences. Rumi states in the Masnavi that what you love is not important, but what is significant is to experience love and then have access to spiritual realities through such an experience.
YOU RE CE N TLY RELEASED A MUCH CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED BOOK ON THE REVERED MALEK JÂN NEMATI. FOR THOSE LESS FAMILIAR WITH MALEK JOÂN, COULD YOU KINDLY EXPLAIN THE ALLURE AND SIGNIFICANCE OF MALEK JÂN? I wrote this book because I had the occasion to meet Malek Jân several times when I was a teenager. She made a very deep impression on me. Perhaps my general interest in mystical poetry was due to these encounters. Her significance I believe is that she lived in the twentieth century yet conformed to the lessons of Rumi and Attar and all the great masters of the past. She demonstrated that we can live in modern times yet pursue a spiritual path in every day life by opening our eyes to spiritual reality without having to abandon earthly life. For me her teachings show us the way to live a natural spirituality in our every day lives and to have an inner experience that may be deepened by perpetual mediation
COULD YOU KINDLY PROVIDE A DESCRIPTION OF YOUR TALK AT TIRGAN 2013. A presentation of the Conference of the Birds together with the projection and commentary of a number of Persian miniatures.The famous mystical poem was composed at the end of the 7th century by Attâr. In this lecture, we will follow the hoopoe, a metaphor for the poet and the spiritual guide, through the seven valleys up to the final encounter with Simorgh, the fabulous bird that stands for the supreme manifestation of the Divine.We will hear and see the poetic words and the beautiful images that lead, through the experience of immanence, to the fusion into transcendence. //
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13-07-03 7:55 AM
JIAN GHOMESHI AN AWARD-WINNING BROADCASTER, WR ITER, MU SICIAN, AND PRODUCER, JIAN IS THE HO ST AND C RE ATOR OF THE NATI ONAL DAILY TALK PROGRAM “Q” ON CBC RADIO. THE SHOW HAS GA RNERED THE LARGEST AU DIENCE OF ANY CULTURAL AFFAIRS PROG RAM I N CAN ADA, AND HAS BECOME THE HIGH EST RATED SHOW IN THE HISTORY OF THE CBC’S M ORNING TIME SLOT. JIAN ALSO REC ENTLY RELEASED A BE ST SE LLING B OOK ENTITLED “1982”.
INTERVIEW BY ALI EHSASSI
CONGRATULATIONS ON THE PUBLI CATION OF YOUR BOOK “1982” WHI CH DEBUTED AS A CANADIAN BESTSELLER AND WAS #1 ON THE MCLEANS BESTSELLER LIST FOR 5 WEEKS. FOR A PERSON WITH SUCH A “CAN DO PERSONALITY” SUCH AS YOURS, AND ALWAYS TO BE FOUND AT THE CENTER OF EXCITING DEVELOPM ENTS, HOW DIFFICULT WAS IT TO LEAD THE S OLITARY LIFE OF A WRITER? Thank you first of all for the congratulations. It was difficult mostly because I didn’t know that I could do it. I was terrified of writing a book since it seemed like such a major or amorphous undertaking. I used to write newspaper columns and I write regularly for the show, so my American agent said why don’t you think of each chapter as an extended column. My agent also warned that I take it one chapter at a time and not think of the whole book of 350 pages, and this really helped. When I started writing, within a week or two, I realized that this was something I was able to do. To a certain extent, for all my procrastinations and insecurities, it was something of an enjoyable spending time by oneself. Your right, so much of what I do integrates me with other people and I’m certainly a people person. I love being around people, and that’s why I favour doing the type of work that I do. I’m energized by being around people. So particularly for me, your absolutely right to say that this experience of sitting alone writing
was new, but yet for that very reason I believe it was cathartic. The book is humorous and creative non-fiction, but for the most part I was writing about experiences that were real and based on my life. So it was an examination of me growing up and being a first generation immigrant in Canada of Iranian descent and focusing on this one year of being fourteen years old and wanting to be David Bowie. So all of that had a cathartic element and it was enjoyable. The only real challenge, beside my own neurosis, was the fact that I continued to do my show and all the other things I do. So I was writing this book in little pockets of time where I would fly down to L.A for a week or two. I would write at this hotel in LA at which I would sequester myself. Since I hadn’t allotted six months or a year to write this book, I was under the gun and had to deliver. I had a very strict regiment of waking up at 6 a.m. and writing until noon and then taking a little break, before writing in the afternoon. Had I experienced any extended period of writer’s block, I couldn’t have put the book out. If anything this was the toughest part, but the alone time was ultimately probably good for me.
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T I R G A N M AG A Z I N E 2 0 1 3
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IN A SENSE YOU HAVE ALWAYS THRIVED ON THE PUB LIC STAGE. MANY FIRST REMEMB ER YOU AS A STU D ENT ACTIVIST AND PRESIDENT OF THE STUDENT U NION AT YORK UNIVERSITY. WHAT FIRST GOT YOU INVO LVED IN ST UDE NT POLITICS, AND HOW DID YOU ENJOY IT?
YOU NEXT DEVELOPED A FOLLOWING AS A MUSICIAN WITH MOXY FRUVOS AND TOURED INTERNATIONALLY. AT VARIOUS POINTS YOU SHARED THE STAGE WITH THE LIKES OF BOB DYLAN, ANI DIFRANCO AND ELVIS COSTELLO. CAN YOU TELL US A BIT MORE ABOUT THAT PERIOD OF YOUR LIFE?
Ever since I was a kid, as my parent will attest, I have had questions about the world.The strange and unfortunate disparities in our world were things I could never get my head around. Neither could I get my head around the fact that some were wealthy while others lived in poverty, or the nature of war and conflict or discrimination. Even when I did not really understand it as a kid, these things confounded me. By the time I was in first year of university, I was quite energized by the idea of doing what I could to contribute and make change in the world. I had always been interested in politics like a political junkie. All through my teens, and this will out me as the ultimate nerd, I would take newspapers and cut out articles about politicians and political events. I would also read biography, at the time being Gorbachev, Mulroney and Lenin.There was also Russian, Iranian, Canadian and British history. So it was a natural evolution for me to start getting involved with people who were very active in wanting to create change. Ironically, I never actively seek student politics and it naturally evolved that way. In junior high I was president of student council, in high school I was president of student council.When I was at York I became very active around international politics, human rights, reproductive choice for women, advocating in favour of zero tuition and arguing against rascism. If you will, I was very much outside the system, and was quite a rebel. I like to joke that my finest moment was throwing wet macaroni at Prime Minister Mulroney and being the lead story on the National of CBC. As a student activist I thought Kraft dinner represented the nadir of student life. Students didn’t have money, yet there were tuition increases as transfer payments were cut. I felt very much outside things as an activist, yet by my fourth year I was convinced by a broad coalition to run. The coalition included everyone including the gay and lesbian, bisexual Club, to the Women’s Centre, to the anti-rascist coalition, to the Arab and Carribbean Students to run for president. I ran what became a very fiery campaign because I was running on a pretty dogmatic left wing platform but ended up winning in a big way. I didn’t really get into University expecting to be in student politics, but just naturally gravitated towards that type of activism.To be honest, I look back on it fondly because I really believe that if you don’t feel like you want to change the world when your twenty, your probably not going to want to change it when you are fourty years old and have responsibilities and dependents. I really advocate for young people, or people of any age who want to create social change, or want to get involved and shake things up. For example when students in Quebec were leading massive protests blaming the government for tuition increases many were not siding with them and blaming them for aggressive tactics. On Q, I spoke very publicly about supporting the students because I had to retreat to who I was twenty five years earlier. That activism was really important in shaping my understanding of the world and of the nature of the passion for change as well.
That period of my life would be called the 1990s and was really creative. By the mid 1990s, I had graduated from University and with three other guys I had attended high school or arts school with, we developed a group. Our only intention was to be as creative as possible. We didn’t start the group thinking it would be a career, but to have some fun. We actually started as street performers, almost like jugglers, but did street theatre and sang on the streets. Soon it really took off and became bigger than life for a while. We toured around the world, particularly in North America and Europe. For ten years we were very much of a touring band, from 1991 to 2001. We were on the road for many of those years and it was a tremendous experience. We sold half a million records by playing at arenas and theatres. It was an interesting choice for me. As I often joke, being an Iranian kid the experience was a far cry from being a doctor or engineer. I had the opportunity to do graduate work on a scholarship, but opted instead to play in Moxey Fruvos. It seemed rebellious or counter intuitive, but the real reason was that I had the chance to travel the world and learn, and play music with my friends. One of the things that was really important to me about Moxy Fruvos, was that much of our material was political and had an activist streak in terms of what we wrote and performed and where we stood. It was a natural evolution from my activism at York. I realized how effective I could be in terms of getting a message across in a form that is necessarily organized along political lines.
ON YOUR CBC MORNING RADIO SHOW “Q” YOU HAVE YOUR PICK OF INTERESTING INDIVIDUALS TO INTERVIEW. YET ONE IS INVARIABLY STRU CK BY THE RIGOUR YOU BRING TO EACH INTERVIEW AND OF COURSE IN 2012 YOU WERE AWARDED THE PRESTIGE O US NEW YORK FESTIVAL’S GOLD MEDAL FOR “BEST TALK SHOW HOST”. AS ONE WHO REGULARLY INTERVIEWS PERSONALITIES AS VARIED AS WOODY A LLEN, PAUL MCCARTNEY, A L GORE, MARGARET ATWOOD, OR BARBARA WALTERS, WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR PRIMARY OBJECTIVE AS AN INTERVIEWEE TO BE?
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When I go into an interview I’m really aspiring to draw my interview subject out, and hopefully learn something and have them contribute something that has not been heard before. In other words, the goal is to try to gain some insight that the audience and me, and maybe the person themself have not previously explored. When you are interviewing a famous person, icon or legend, it certainly becomes harder and harder to do because they have done many interviews. That generally is the intent, I want it to be entertaining, and for it to feel comfortable. At the same time, I really believe that an interview has to be journalistic. Not just to prove my chops as a thinker, but to really be able to draw out interesting answers. To a certain extent you have to challenge your subject. Not to ambush them, or to be disrespectful, but to challenge them since these folks are confident and at the top of their game. We always respond better to being intellectually challenged than to just passively be asked questions. This kind of style is where I am coming from and I do not believe in being disrespectful. But I do believe in a dance in which both the interviewer and interviewee engage in an energized and provocative dance. Trying to find new insights is the goal.
YO U H AV E CERTAINLY BEEN WOED BY MANY AMERICAN OPPORTUNITIES. WHAT PRO M PTED YOU TO TURN S U CH OPPORTU NITIES D OWN? Opportunities have certainly come up for me in the United States. I’ve worked really hard to create and build Q. The show is at its basis is a long-form information and content show. It means that I do in-depth interviews and that we delve into stories and subjects with rigour and go deep. That is very gratifying for me. I want to be able to have in-depth conversations that the public is able to hear. The greatest news is that in an era in which we are told that everyone has attention deficit disorder and short attention spans, and that we live in a sound bite culture, we launched a show that is the opposite of that. To have a long form content that becomes a hit in Canada has really been an honour and exciting. The opportunities that I have received in the United States, while exciting in terms of fame and money, don’t always necessarily allow for me to do the type of work that I want to do. I’ve really decided that it’s not worth the trade off for me. I want the long form content. With all due respect to the people who do Entertainment Tonight or anchor the news in some way, that is not interesting to me if it can’t come with a longer form journalistic process or an opportunity to do the type of work I do at Q. Having said that, I also really believe in Canada. I like to be part of the story of building this country. Maybe in a world where the borders are increasingly disappearing, especially with respect to access to media, its possible to do a program out of Canada that is heard and seen in other places. This is certainly what is happening with Q with the show being on over a hundred and fifty stations in America, including New York and Chicago is very exciting.
O N E A LWAYS D E T E C TS V E RY S E R I O U S CO M M E N TA RY I N YO U R P U B L I C S P E A K I N G E N G AG E M E N TS . A R E C E N T E X A M P L E I N W H I C H YO U O N C E AG A I N E A R N E D YO U R WAY I N TO T H E H E A RTS O F M A N Y FA N S WAS W H E N YO U A P P E A R E D O N TO U T L E M O N D E PA R L E I N Q U E B E C A N D P O U R E D YO U H E A RT O U T O N T H E N E E D FO R T H E I N T E R N AT I O N A L CO M M U N I T Y TO AVO I D A M I L I TA RY ST R I K E O N I R A N . CO U L D YO U E L A B O R AT E O N YO U R V I E WS O N T H AT S U B J E C T ? It was a great honour to be on Tout Le Monde Parle, a really big show in Quebec. As an Iranian-Canadian I see it as a part of my responsibility to get out there and continue to undermine, or challenge and reverse hopefully the types of stereotypes and generalization that are made about Iran and Iranians. I fundamentally do not believe that any type of strike on Iran will be productive in terms of either the possibility of moving forward in the world or in terms of regime change or dramatic changes in Iran. I think this has to come from the Iranian people and has to happen more organically, but I do believe that those of us in the diaspora need to speak out and continue to spread the word about who Iranians are, what is really happening in Iran, what Iranians represent and to try to challenge those stereotypes. That’s what I was trying to do in Tout Le Monde Parle, and I will continue to do so.
IT SAYS IN YOUR OFFICIAL BIOGRAPHY THAT DURING DOWNTIMES YOU “ENJOY SUPPORTING A LOSING HOCKEY TEAM AND EATING PISTACHIOS.” I TAKE IT YOU DON’T HAVE MUCH TIME THESE DAYS TO INDULGE IN YOUR LOVE FOR PISTACHIOS. WHAT’S ON THE HORIZON FOR JIAN THAT WE SHOULD BE LOOKING FORWARD TO. I am continuing to build my show and it looks I’m going to start writing a second book, which will be a very different type of book. I also continue to support another losing team, my soccer team Arsenal out of England. So there are all types of losers that I support. But certainly to clarify, there is always time for pistachios. If only I could stop the pistachios and the basmati rice, I would not have to worry about being “chagh”. //
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ﻣﺤﻤﺪ ﺗﻮﮐﻠﯽ ﻃﺮﻗﯽ،ﴎدﺑﯿﺮ
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13-07-03 7:36 AM
ROBERT DE WARREN I S O N E O F TO DAY ’ S M O S T E X P E R I E N C E D A N D S U C C E S S F U L DANCE PERSONALITIES WITH AN INTRIGUING INTERNATIONAL CAREER THAT HAS TAKEN HIM WORLD WIDE. A MONG OT HERS, HE LIVED IN IRAN FROM 1 9 6 6 TO 1 9 7 8 AFTER BE ING APPOINTED THE BALLET MASTER AND CHOREOGRAPHER OF IRANIAN BALLET, AND LEADING THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR THE PRESERVATION OF FOLKLORIC DANCE AND MUSIC. HE RECE NTLY AU THORED A MAGISTERIAL BOOK RECOUNTING HIS TIME IN I RAN AND OT HER RIVETING EXPE RIENCES HE WAS A PART O F AT THE FOREFRON T OF THE WO RLD OF DA N CE AND CHOREOGRAPHY FOR OVER FIVE DECADES. HI S NEW BOOK ENTITLED DESTINY’S WALTZ, AND DECISION TO ATTEND T IRG AN 2013 PROMPTED US TO ARRANGE AN INTERVIEW WITH HIM.
INTERVIEW BY ALI EHSASSI
YOU RECENTLY COMPLETED AN ABSORBING BOOK RECOUNTING YOUR LIFE AND CAREER AS A DISTINGUISHED BALLET DANCER, DIRECTOR, CHOREOGRAPHER AND DESIGNER. FEW COULD BOAST AS ENCHANTING OR CREATIVE A CAREER SPANNING SIX DECADES THAT HAS TAKEN THEM FROM BUENOS AIRES TO LONDON AND STUTTGART, AND FROM TEHRAN TO MILAN AND FINALLY SARASOTA. WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO THRIVE AS A CITIZEN OF THE WORLD.
YOU FIRST LAUN CHE D YOUR PROFESSIONAL CAREER AS A DANCER WITH THE ROYAL BALLET COMPANY IN LONDON. IN YOUR BOOK YOU ARE REFRESHINGLY FORTHCOMING ABOUT THE TOLL THAT THE RIGOURS OF BALLET MAY TAKE ON PERFORMERS. WOULD YOUR SUBSEQUENT SUCCESS AS A DIRECTOR AND CHOREOGRAPHER HAVE BEEN POSSIBLE WITHOUT HAVING HAD THE STEPPING STONE OF YEARS OF RIGOROUS DISCIPLINE IMPOSED BY BEING A DANCER.
In my case, probably, as I never look back, the hope that each day would bring some new experience. Thus I have been blessed with continued surprises in opening doors at crucial moments in my life. Curiosity is another driving force. Once my attention has been captured I have a real need to explore and understand the object of my focus. The oddity of this curiosity is that I have not sought an object to understand, but that life unexpectedly placed it before me. Add an instinctive drive to create and one becomes a citizen of the world almost by accident!
I consider it an enormous privilege to have started as a dancer at Royal Ballet, particularly, at a time when Dame Ninette de Valois served as its director. Her understanding of her dancers’ potential assured some of us were set on a path even unconscious of her guiding hand. My curiosity was given opportunities that assured my dedication, when even as a student about to graduate, I was approved to choreograph on professionals in the company, dance in my ballets, and design our costumes. What seemed just natural to me was obviously not commonplace, but I was never aware of this special ability until much later. Performing on the stage of the
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Royal Opera House, learning the entire repertoire of my time, having celebrated artists as colleagues, modest and supportive as they were, gave me the foundation for a dance career outside of being a performer. When my dancing was truncated just as I was being recognized for it, initial despair was arrested by “Madam” (as we called Dame Ninette) sending me to Iran, under the Shah at that time, to develop as a ballet master and choreographer. This changed my life.
YOUR BOOK DEALS EXTE N S IVE LY WITH YOUR 11 YEARS OF LIVING IN IRAN AFTER YOU WERE APPOINTED THE BALLET MASTER AND CHOREOGRAPHER OF IRANIAN BALLET IN 1966. AS YOU ELOQUENTLY NOTE IN YOUR BOOK MANY TRAVELLERS SUCH AS CURZON, PORTER AND RAWLINSON REGALED THEIR CONTEMPORARIES WITH THEIR PERSONAL GLIMPSES OF IRAN. WHAT IS THE PRINCIPAL MESSAGE YOU WOULD LIKE TO IMPART TO YOUR REA DERS? My message for those unforgettable years, (meant to be only three, but extending to over a decade), is a message of deep love for a culture, its people and its contrasting beauty, that awakened in me the most powerful curiosity of Humanity in its total sense. This changed my life, enhanced my artistic creativity, fostered humility and awe for what this world offers us, and, alas, we so often disrespect.
YOUR ARRIVAL IN TEHRAN COINCIDED WITH THE BUILDING OF ROUDAKI HALL. YOU CERTAINLY ADOPTED A LOFTY EXPECTATION AFTER ARRIVING IN IRAN AND STATE YOU WERE “DETERMINED TO S HOW TEHRAN THE BEST OF INTERNATIONAL DANCE, BUT ALSO TO DEVELOP A NATIONAL PERSONALITY IN OUR GROUP ”. W ERE YOU SATISFIED WITH YOUR SUCCESS 11 Y EARS LATER? One is never satisfied, for one learns from and hopes to understand the people we live among, but it is only in hindsight that our actions can be analyzed and different solutions appreciated. Dance is ephemeral, not like a canvas that can be modified. When my canvas was complete the curtain rose for the first time, to reveal this rendering of my artistic creativity. It was alive, but lived only through the dedicated and talented dancers I formed. In a sense I lived through them. Our success was, that we transformed Western ballet tradition and gave it an Iranian interpretation. Later I was able to research and live Iranian culture at its roots, with tribes, ancient city folk and mystic communities which, allowed me to share with the world a Westerner’s interpretation of those treasures. Strangely, it is the passing decades that have placed in perspective what we collectively achieved. That is the real satisfaction.
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“MY MESSAGE FOR THOSE UNFORGETTABLE YEARS, (MEANT TO BE ONLY THREE, BUT EXTENDING TO OVER A DECADE), IS A MESSAGE OF DEEP LOVE FOR A CULTURE, ITS PEOPLE AND ITS CONTRASTING BEAUTY, THAT AWAKENED IN ME THE MOST POWERFUL CURIOSITY OF HUMANITY IN ITS TOTAL SENSE.” HOW DIFFICULT WAS IT TO PERSUADE THE LIKES OF MARGOT FONTEYN, RUDOLF NUREY EV, VAKHTAN CHABUKIAN AND YEHUDI MENUHIM TO PERFOR M IN IRAN? The Shah was a frequent guest in England and attended galas at the Royal Opera House. He was familiar with most recognized international artists. With Empress Farah, educated in Paris, they fostered a great exchange of cultural personalities. Artists were eager and happy to come to Tehran. A myriad of diverse festivals created wonderful artistic exchanges.
WAS TH ER E E VE R ANY OCCASION ON WHICH THE I RANIAN BALLET COMPANY PERFORMED OUTSIDE IRAN? The National Ballet, a hybrid, could not really travel abroad, but occasionally did so performing adaptions of Persian themes.
A FEW YEARS AFTER COMMENCING YOUR WORK IN IRAN AND LEARNING FARSI, YOU WERE APPOINTED TO LEAD THE N ATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR THE PRESERVATION OF FOLKLORIC DANCE AND M USIC. HOW D ID YOU ENJOY THAT EXPERIENCE? This is the experience that had the deepest effect on my artistic growth and development. Curious as I was, passing gates left ajar, and peeping into gardens with tiles and fountains chirping under the trees, really pushed me to obtain support to explore further. My dialogue with the people of Iran started then. When I had established the “Mahali Dancers of Iran” as a p rofessional company, we toured the world as ambassadors of Iranian culture. To non-Farsi speakers, the name sounded exotic and fascinating, but many Iranians abroad missed the fascination this group engendered. The word mahali meaning simply local. Built on methodical and detailed research, our repertory was as an open book revealing the many facets of an ancient yet vibrant civilization.
I UND ERSTAND YO U ARE CURRENTLY AUTHORING A SECOND BOOK D E VOTED ENTIRELY TO THE DISTINCT DANCE AND FOLKLORE TRADITION IN VARIOUS PARTS OF I RAN. WHEN CAN WE EX PECT YOUR MANUSCRIPT TO BE COMPLETED? My publisher despairs! I am so caught up in live artistic activities, always striving to entice younger generations to share my passion, that I seldom have the leisure to sit at my desk and write. However, I have written about two thirds of this new book. Hopefully by the end of 2014 it will be printed.
MANY ARE EAGERLY AWAITING YOUR ATTENDANCE AT THE TIRGAN FESTIVAL. COULD YOU PROVIDE US A GLIMPSE OF WHAT YOU WILL FOCUS ON DURING YOUR SPEAKING ENGAGEMENT? I am so honored to be given two occasions in which to share my experiences in Iran. One will dwell more on the tribal and ethnic research covering many areas of Iran.The second will dwell more on urban dancing, ceremonial and mystic themes. I am in the process of preparing visual material that was fortunately saved at the onset of the Revolution. Sadly the archives were destroyed, so it is even more imperative I commit pen to paper. //
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Photo by Sam Javanrouh
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P R O S H AT J AV I D
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HOPE PHOTO CONTEST 2013 Organized by Café Litt Curatorial Statement A photograph captures moments in time. It is a window through which a noble observer opens our eyes to play back a moment in the past that we are capable of feeling miles away through our own experiences and memories in the present. Photographs capture a moment that’s gone forever are impossible to reproduce. When we look at a photograph we are caught in a moment that is neither represent quite now, nor even then. As the French theorist Roland Barthes suggests they consist of a superimposition “of reality and of the past.” The CafeLitt biennial photo contest gives photographers from across the globe a unique opportunity to share moments they have experienced with a wider world and to illustrate their vision and talent. In collaboration with the Tirgan Festival, for the first time this year we chose an overarching theme for our photography contest: dreaming awake, otherwise referred to as Hope. The theme is neither susceptible to limits in time or place, nor constrained by culture or beliefs. As Emily Dickinson has observed, no matter where you come from or your walk in life; “Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul – and sings the tunes without the words – and never stops at all.” We have received nearly a thousand images from around the world which capture the ebb and flow of hope, from a variety of angles. We essentially experienced the adage that a picture is worth a thousand words. All submitted images have been evaluated by a panel \consisting of eminent experts: Alfred Yaghubzadeh, Peter Bregg and Kamran Jebreili. It certainly wasn’t easy for our distinguished panellists to agree to a short-list of the best pictures submitted. Ultimately, at the conclusion of three consecutive rounds of consideration, our panellists agreed on the best three photos in the distinct categories of documentary and fine art, and also selected forty photos to be exhibited as part of the Hope Photo Contest.
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photo contest winners
Mohammad Rakibul is from Bangladesh
Kaveh is from Iran
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FORMER CANADIAN AMBASSADOR EXTRAORDINAIRE
KEN TAYLOR ON THE HEELS OF ARGO’S PHENOMENAL SUCCESS AT T HE BOX O FFICE AND AT THE OSCARS, WE THOUGHT IT AN OPPORTUNE TIME TO INT ERVIEW FO RMER CANADIAN AMBASSADO R TO TEHRAN, KEN TAYLOR, WHO GAINED WORLD WIDE ATTENTION FO R HIS HEROIC RO LE IN WHAT WAS COMMONLY REFERRED TO AS T HE CANADIAN CAPER. AMBASSADOR KEN TAYLOR WAS KIND ENOUGH TO SHA RE WITH US HIS I MPRESSIONS OF HAVING LIVED I N IRAN FROM 1977 TO 1980, A ND PROVIDED HIS CANDID ASSESSMENT O F THE MOVIE ARGO. INTERVIEW BY ALI EHSASSI
WHEN DID YOU FIRST ARRIVE IN TEHRAN AND WHAT WERE YOUR INITIAL IMPRESSIONS OF THE COU NTRY?
COULD YOU FORETELL AT THE TIME THAT YOU WERE SITTING ATOP A POLITICAL VOLCANO?
I roughly arrived in mid 1977 and my first impressions were overwhelming. Tehran was a big city with traffic everywhere. Iran also had great expectations, and while oil production was up, the country’s international influence was expanding. Iran was an exciting posting for a diplomat. There were roughly 85 to 90 diplomatic embassies in Tehran at the time, each keen to work something out with Iran either by way of barter, sale or exchange of agricultural and commodity goods or technical services. So I was looking forward to contributing, in one way or another, as had my predecessor Ambassador Jim George, to cementing a good and solid relationship between Canada and Iran.
When I arrived it was stable.There were a number of Iranians abroad furthering their educations and returning to their country.The Iranian Imperial Court and Government ministries had plans, all pretty adventurous and very ambitious. At the time it appeared most such Iranian plans were attainable.The country also enjoyed good relations with varied countries such as China, the Soviet Union and the United States. As a diplomat, from a middle-sized country such as Canada, it seemed to be an opportune time to be there. I did not anticipate a bad time in the 1970s or any structural and dramatic changes in leadership. Talking to my Iranian friends that were bankers and journalists, I do not recall anyone else anticipating fundamental changes either. Quite honestly while in Iran, I thought I would be there as Ambassador for five years on a normal posting and that at the conclusion of my term a successor would take over the position from me.
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HAD YOU REQUESTED TO BE APPOINTED CANADIAN AMBASSADOR TO T EHRAN? An ambassadorship to Iran was a very sought after appointment. Iran was a key player in the Middle East. Here was a country with a civilization stretching back 3,000 years, and not a country with borders drawn up by the French and the British from 1915 to 1918. This was a civilization and not an artificial creation. These were exciting days in Iran. Relations between Iran and Israel were very close, and the country got along fine with Ankara, although Turkey was having its own issues. Iran was somewhat of a balancer in the region and its relations with Egypt were fine, while its relations with Iraq were tentative. Saudi Arabia was seen as a rival, but nothing fundamentally troublesome appeared on the horizon. Within the region, Iran was experiencing a certain measure of continuity and generally getting along well in terms of its bilateral diplomatic relationships.
WERE YOU THE YOUNGEST C ANADIAN AMBASSADOR AT THE D EPARTENT OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS AT THE TIME? Well I was, among others, young. I wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t very wise, but I was certainly young. I was around 40 and there were other Canadian ambassadors around the same age. One way or another, my career was such that the posting to Iran became available and I was nominated. I arrived there much to my pleasure and thought this was a place in which Canada could play a role not only to advance its self-interest, but also by assuming a general role in the Middle East. We had maintained an embassy in Tehran since the 1950s. By the 1970s we also had an embassy in Saudi Arabia, had enlarged our embassy in Beirut, and had recently opened an Embassy in Syria. This was an era in which Canada genuinely wanted to have a presence in the region. When I first arrived in Iran, I was also accredited to Kuwait and Oman. We subsequently opened an embassy in Kuwait, so I retained credentials to the United Arab Emirates and Oman.
GIVEN YOUR STORIED ACCOMPLISHMENTS AS A DIPLOMAT, COULD YOU IDENTIFY SOME OF THE ICONS THAT ATTRACTED YOU TO A LIFE OF DIPLOMACY? I would say there were three particular officers: Bruce Rankin, Harry Horne and Charles Ritchie. Bruce Rankin and Harry Horn were both on the trade and economic side of the Department of External Affairs, of which I was also a part. Bruce ended up his career as ambassador to Tokyo and Harry as Counsel General to Atlanta. Both were part of the post-war generation and had been in the Canadian Foreign Service since 1946. They had been in the Foreign Service since the end of the war, and I joined in 1959, but knew of them. As time went on, I got to know them very well and always thought I would like to emulate them. Charles Ritchie was different. Charles was the ultimate diplomat and had received extraordinary schooling before being posted to London during the War. He was subsequently appointed as the Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations and to Washington. You name the prestigious diplomatic posts and he had served there. When I was posted to London he was our High Commissioner to the United Kingdom. I did not see him often, but when I did he had this nice sense of wisdom. Once I went to see him to report that a particular trade issue with Britain was looking disconcerting. He simply said well lets think about. He then suggested that he was heading to the movies and offered that by the time the movie was over, the difficulty would likely be resolved. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m just mentioning these three diplomats, but there were certainly many more inspiring colleagues.
I UNDERSTAND YOU WERE NEVER CONSULTED ON THE MAKING OF ARGO. HOW ACCURATELY DO YOU BELIEVE IT DEPICTED DEVELOPMENTS AS THEY UNFOLDED ON THE GROUND IN IRAN IN THE IMMEDIATE POST-REVOLUTIONARY PERIOD?
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The movie Argo is a Hollywood production that is entertaining and keeps everyone on the edge of their seats. That’s fine, but the essence of it was that six American diplomats sought safety at two Canadian diplomatic premises in Tehran, our residence and John Shearden’s home. The Canadian Government worked with the CIA to get these American diplomats safely home. Other than that, there is a fair amount of poetic license in the sense that the movie tries to convey the atmosphere of the period. The movie captures some authenticity, but I think what is troubling from the start is that it only provides a one-sided reflection of Iran. The opening scene, the demonstrations, the anti-U.S. sentiments and what a revolution produces in terms of life and death was only one aspect of Iranians. The other side does not come through in the movie. For instance I was in Iran for three years and the sensitivity in the country was quite remarkable. Both my wife Pat and I made good friends and were well received. Even during the unpredictable and desperate days of the revolution, I was never in trouble. Now one has to be prudent during a revolution, but I was no more in jeopardy than Iranians. So it did not all go one way. To sum it all up, Iran is a country with extraordinary history and what happened during that time also happened in France and Russia. A revolution is difficult to read and you never know the conclusion. It’s certainly not within anyone’s hands to predictably direct a revolution. Even though there is now a semblance of democracy in Iran, and I offer this carefully since this a judgment only Iranians can make, in a very real sense the revolution is still on going. I think that over time it will work out, although these are certainly unsettling days.
I UNDERSTAND THAT TO THE EXTENT THAT PREPARATIONS WERE MADE FOR THE DARING MISSION TO FERRET AMERICAN DIPLOMATS THAT HAD SOUGHT A SAFE HAVEN WITH CANADIAN DIPLOMATS OUT OF IRAN, SUCH PREPARATIONS WERE MOSTLY STICK HANDLED BY OTTAWA? Pretty much all the documentation was done in Ottawa. During the latter stages there was certainly good and positive cooperation with the CIA.The initiative was led by Canadians, but the CIA was certainly involved.Tony Mendez came over to Tehran, and was resourceful and a pleasure to work with. However, candidly, it was a Canadian led operation with a very positive contribution made by the Americans.
I UNDERSTAND THAT OTHER FOREIGN EMBASSIES IN TEHRAN HAD BEEN APPROACHED BY THE STRANDED AMERICAN DIPLOMATS, BUT DID NOT PROVE AS DARING OR WELCOMING AS THE CANADIAN EMBASSY.
O N C E YO U MADE THE COURAGEOUS D E C I S I O N TO TAKE IN THE A ME RI CA N H OSTAG ES, WAS THERE MUCH P RESSU RE F ROM OTTAWA A N D DFA I T OR DID EVERYONE AGRE E W I TH YOUR APPROACH.
I think every country had its own decision to make whether or not they could offer the type of safety and security the Americans expected. I make no comparative judgment as to whether other countries were able to offer sanctuary. The circumstances for each embassy were different. As far as Canada was concerned, it was decided that we felt we could do it, and were entirely prepared to offer assistance. There was no question on our part of saying no.
When we proposed to take in the Americans to offer them a safe haven, there was harmony, and I do not mean to gloss over it. Prime Minister Joe Clark and Foreign Minister Flora Macdonald and my colleagues at what was then referred to as the Department of External Affairs such as Allan Gottlieb, were all uniformly committed to securing a safe passage for the Americans.There was no sense that we should not have been doing this, ever.There was uniformity in the sense that this was the right thing to do.
IS THERE ANY OTHER ASPECT OF THE MOVIE ARGO THAT YOU BELIEVE DID NOT COMPORT WITH REALITY?
I believe that the movie serves a purpose by highlighting beyond the particular tragedy of thirty three years ago, and in light of the recent tragedy in Benghazi, that diplomacy is a dangerous game.You certainly hope that with a bit of luck, happenstance and prudence, you are able to do your job without placing yourself in jeopardy. //
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KAVEH FARROKH DR. KAVEH FARROKH IS A WOR L D RENOWNED EXPERT IN THE FIELD OF ANCIENT IRANIAN STUDIES AND HAS RECENTLY PUBLISHED BOOKS ENTITLED “S HADOWS IN THE DESSERT: ANCIENT PERSIA AT WAR” AND “IRAN AT WAR: 1500-1988”. H IS DECISION TO ATTEND TIRGAN 2013 PROMPTED US TO ARRANGE AN INTERVIEW WITH HIM. INTERVIEW BY ALI EHSASSI
MANY OF US KNOW YOU THROUGH YOUR APPEARANCES AS A COMMENTATOR ON THE BBC , THE HISTORY CHANNEL, AND THE VOICE OF AMERICA. YOU HAVE ALSO HAD A PARTICULARLY PROLIFIC PROFILE AS A SCHOLAR BY PUBLISHING SEVERAL HIGHLY ACCLAIMED BOOKS IN THE LAST SEVERAL YEARS. WHEN DID YOU FIRST DECIDE TO DEDICATE YOUR AC ADEMIC CAREER TO I RANIAN STUDIES? This occurred during my Ph.D. Dissertation at the University of British Columbia. My topic focused on the cognitive and linguistic processes of bilingual (Persian and English) speakers of the modern Persian language where we also studied Persian readers with learning disabilities. This necessitated my detailed study of the core linguistic processes of the Persian language, obliging me to examine Middle Persian (Pahlavi) and older Iranian languages. Language is an expression of a cultural ethos formed through historical events. Conversely, historical processes (especially military history) may influence the development of languages. For example, had Darius and Xerxes prevailed against ancient Greece, Old Persian may have spread far and wide into the interior of Europe as a language. Nevertheless, Iranian languages were already being spoken in much of Eastern Europe at the time in what is now Ukraine, South Russia, Bulgaria, Romania, etc. Groups of Iranian speakers joined the Germanic Ostrogoths and migrated far into Western Europe. This
is one of many venues in which Persianate civilization influenced Europe, a process that was continued by the Turkic and Hunnic peoples. As peoples migrate into new regions they introduce cultural and technological innovations – phenomena that are often mediated through language. This may occur through language displacement or through the introduction of vocabulary to the host population. An example of Iranian influence upon Germanic peoples is the spectacular, but little known, find of an Iranian belt buckle that belonged to a Germanic chieftain: on top of the belt buckle is written in Pahlavi: Ardashir. Another example of historical events influencing linguistics is the Arab invasion of Iran in 637-651 CE. The Middle Persian (Sassanian and Parthian) Pahlavi language(s) gave way to New Persian (Parsiye Now) which spawned a mighty Persian literary tradition. Had the Arabs not invaded Sassanian Persia, new Persian literature would not have evolved as it did, meaning there would not be a Shahname of Firdowsi, Nizami
Ganjavi’s Haft-Peykar, Mowlana’s Masnavi, Hafez, Saadi, Khaqani and a plethora of other literary masters and their works. Another interesting consequence of the Arab invasion was the replacement of “p’ in the term Parsi (Persian) with “f ” resulting in the oft-used term Farsi (instead of Parsi). The Arabic language does not have “p” obliging the Arabs to refer to Persian as “AlFarsi”. Interestingly, in India, members of the Zoroastrian diaspora that migrated from Iran after the Arab invasions were referred to as Parsees by Indians and later by the British colonialists. In summary, my dissertation on the Persian language (cognitive processes, linguistics, etc) led to the study of the history of the development of the Persian language, a saga reaching back to the rise of the proto Indo-Europeans, Kurgans and the Avestan-speaking Scythians and their cousins, the Persians and the Medes. Language, history, archaeology and culture are domains that are in many ways, interconnected and overlapping.
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I CAN BARELY THINK OF ANY FIELD OF ACADEMIC ENDEAVOUR THAT INTRIGUES MORE IRANIANS THAN ANCIENT STUDIES. HOW WOULD YOU ACCOUNT FOR THIS FASCINATION? Understanding the ancient past in a non-biased and non-partisan way helps us understand how we have become who we are today in terms of our languages, culture and historical “weltanschaung” or world-view. In general the fascination Iranians have towards their ancient past may derive from several impulses.The first is a genuine desire to understand the past.The second, and often competing one, is to look to the past with more emotive impulses such as ideologies and ethno-nationalism. The latter cases are in my opinion unacademic and bear the potential of becoming political. By far the majority of Iranians (be they laypersons, enthusiasts, students or academics) are intrigued by understanding are intrigued by understanding the past for what it truly was: with all its splendour, strengths as well as faults and liabilities. Ancient Iran is fascinating simply because of its rich tapestry in a wide range of domains including: arts, architecture, culture, music, theology, mythology and political development (most notably Cyrus’ proclamation of rights of citizens regardless of race or religion). It is also imperative not to idealize that same past by being aware that ancient Persia, like other great ancient empires such as Greece, Rome, India and China, was far from flawless. What is clear, and as yet still under-appreciated, is that the mighty legacy of ancient Iran continues to resonate far beyond its present boundaries, long after the fall of the Sassanians by late 650s CE. Persianate civilization bears a distinct legacy in Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Indian subcontinent, not to mention the pre-Islamic Iranian legacy in Europe and the distinct legacy of Iran (pre and post-Islamic) in the Arab-Muslim realms.
APART FRO M YOUR SCHOLARLY WRITINGS, I UNDERSTAND THAT YOU HAVE ACTED AS CONSULTANT IN A NUMBER OF PERSIA-RELATED EXCAVATION PROJECTS IN FAR FLUNG CORNERS OF THE WORLD. COULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR ROLE BY CITING AN EXAMPLE? By far the most interesting case I have had the privilege of acting as a consultant for, has been the enigma of the winged Persian lion from Meskheti, Georgia. This was discovered by accident by farmers in the region in 2000. Almost immediately an excavation team consisting of academic members of the Institute of Manuscripts of the Georgian Academy of Sciences was dispatched to salvage the find and bring it to the Institute in Tbilisi. Professor Tsisania Abuladze of the Institute of manuscripts of the Georgian Academy of Sciences and his team studied the find and submitted a three-page report (one in English and the other in Georgian). The Georgian version of the report contains an appendix showing the Persian inscription on the winged-lion’s mane. Dr. David Khoupenia (of the Georgian Academy of Sciences) contacted me to inquire as to the following: the Persian script on the lion’s mane, and the artistic style and
posture of the winged lion. The lion has been correctly dated by the Institute of manuscripts of the Georgian Academy of Sciences to the Safavid era at the time of Shah Abbas (1587-1629) who ordered the statue to be built sometime in 1622-1623. It was built of silver, gilded in bronze and stood approximately half a meter in height. The two wings are opened as if in flight, with the lion sitting on its hind legs and standing on its frontal legs. However there is one enigma that defies classification: the era winged-lion bears a striking resemblance to ancient (pre-Islamic) Medo-Persian Achaemenid or “Persepolis” style arts. In short, this has very little semblance to post-Islamic era artistic works in Persianite civilizations. Its style is pre-Islamic.
D ESPITE THE MANY REWARDS, ONE CAN ONLY ASSUME THAT SCHOLARS OF ANCIENT HISTORY FACE DAUNTING CHALLENGES. COULD YOU RECOUNT SOME OF THE PRINCIPAL CHAL LENGES AND BARRIERS THAT HINDER IRANIAN STUDIES? In general challenges are posed by a series of revisionist trends taking place within academia. One such trend are claims by a few select historians that the history of Cyrus the Great as a pioneer of the rights of citizens is for the main part “propaganda” rather than being based on actual historical events. The principal aim of such revisionist projects is to sideline the works of previous doyens of Iranian Studies, not just with respect to the history of Cyrus, but as it also relates to many other facets of ancient Iran. Efforts are also underway to “prove” that the ancient Medes had no real architecture, Nowruz was unknown in ancient Iran, the Sassanians owed their culture to the Greeks, etc. Interestingly, most new historians presently operating within Iranian studies do not speak Persian, yet now wield considerable influence inside Iran, Iranian Studies journals and even in Wikipedia. The entry for Cyrus the Great in Wikipedia for example strongly reflects the views of distinguished professors who wish to revise this history. Fortunately, such revisionist ideas are being questioned. In addition to academic venues, ancient Iran is also being challenged by major Western newspaper and media outlets. A prime example of this occurred when Spiegel Magazine and the Daily Telegraph literally attacked the person of Cyrus the Great in July 2008. In tandem with these activities, popular entertainment outlets, especially Hollywood, are also very active. The recent productions of “Alexander” and “300” represent two prime examples. I have chronicled aspects of the story relating to challenges emanating from the media and entertainment industry on my personal website which is available to the public. Therefore in summary, Iranian Studies faces challenges from three venues: (a) academic (b) news outlets and (c) entertainment media venues. It is evident throughout the Divan and Masnavi that Rumi is nourished by the text of the Koran. However, it should be added that he has a very specific and personal reading of the sacred text. He certainly has a hermeneutic approach, trying to decipher its symbols and metaphors. He does not have a dogmatic approach,
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although he is a Moslem and a Koranic thinker. For him however, being deeply rooted in the Koran does not mean to be dogmatic. On the contrary it means to be capable of interpreting the revealed text in multiple ways. Rumi has a very liberal and infinitely open way of looking at the tradition.
WHAT PERIOD OF ANCIENT IRANIAN HISTORY DO YOU BELIEV E IS ENCASED UNDER THE MOST ENDURING LAYERS OF MISPERCEPTION. IN OTHER WORDS, IN YOUR PROFESSIONAL OPINION, WHAT PERIOD DO YOU BELIEV E SHOULD BE THE FOCUS OF GREATER RESOURCES OR MERITS THE ENHANCED ATTENTION OF METICULOUS SCHOLARS. All periods bear equal priority and importance, since each faces its own unique challenges. In general we may very broadly divide the history of Iran into two major parts: pre-Islamic and post-Islamic.The pre-Islamic era itself may in turn be classified into: pre Indo-European Iranian plateau (especially locales such as Shahre Sookhteh, Sialk and Elam); the arrival of proto Iranian peoples into Central Asia, eastern Europe and Iran proper (these becoming the Scythians or Saka, followed later by Alans, Sarmatians, etc.); the rise of the Medes on the Iranian plateau followed by their successors, the Achaemenids, the Hellenic interlude (Alexander’s conquests and the Seleucids); the rise of Parthia followed by the last great pre-Islamic empire of Iran, the Sassanians. In my opinion, each of these domains are extremely important as these are vital elements that have come together to form not only the historical identity of Iran, but also as the precursor to the rise of the Persianite civilizations after the fall of the Sassanian Empire. The second segment, post-Islamic, denotes more a time-era, specifically the era after the Arab-Muslim conquests. The often used term “Islamic civilization”, however, fails to capture the highly diverse nature of the civilizations after the Arabian conquests. Few refer to the civilizations of Eastern, Western and Southern Europe as “Christian Civilizations”. In fact Europeans would quickly correct us by noting that northwest Europe, central Europe, Eastern Europe and the northern Mediterranean basin are far too complex and diverse with respect to cultural expression, languages, arts, architecture, and historical development to be simplistically encapsulated under the term “Christian civilization”. Hence, why is the term “Islamic civilization” being used to literally lump together the Indian subcontinent (at least the “Islamic” part of it or modern Pakistan and Bangladesh today), Egypt, Iran, North Africa,Turkey, Central Asia, the Caucasus, the Arabian peninsula, Syria, Lebanon, Indonesia, etc.? This is now being used in academic contexts and courses are being taught today under these very same headings. There are, in fact, two very distinct entities: the Persianate civilization referred to before, which is not the same as Arabian culture, or more correctly Arab-language cultures which itself is a vast domain stretching from Iraq to the western coastlines of North Africa. Persianate music, arts and architecture are in evidence in Iran,Turkey, the Caucasus, Central
Asia and the Kurds – and these are a shared phenomenon which traces much of their roots to pre-Islamic Persia or Iran. It is certainly true that the influence of Iran upon the Arabs has been mighty, a fact acknowledged by the great Arab historian, Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406) who noted: “…It is a remarkable fact that, with few exceptions, most Muslim scholars…in the intellectual sciences have been non-Arabs…thus the founders of grammar were Sibawaih and after him, al-Farisi and Az-Zajjaj. All of them were of Persian descent…they invented rules of (Arabic) grammar…great jurists were Persians… only the Persians engaged in the task of preserving knowledge and writing systematic scholarly works.Thus the truth of the statement of the prophet becomes apparent, ‘If learning were suspended in the highest parts of heaven the Persians would attain it”…The intellectual sciences were also the preserve of the Persians, left alone by the Arabs, who did not cultivate them… as was the case with all crafts…This situation continued in the cities as long as the Persians and Persian countries, Iraq, Khorasan and Transoxiana (modern Central Asia), retained their sedentary culture.” (The Muqaddimah Translated by F. Rosenthal, III, pp. 311-15, 271-4 [Arabic]; Richgard Nelson Frye,The Golden Age of of Persia, 1977, p.91). The term “Islamic civilization” conveniently blurs over the Persianate element just as “Christian civilization” lumps together Europe’s distinct Greco-Roman, Slavic, renaissance, Iberian and other elements into a monolithic and simplistic whole. As a result, the study of Iran’s post-Islamic era (meaning after the Arab invasions) would be better academically addressed within the Persianate civilization rather than the somewhat simplistic “Islamic Civilization”. The latter term is reminiscent of the recently invented term “Middle East”, a term that did not exist until the early twentieth century. As in “Islamic Civilization”, the term “Middle East” simplistically subsumes whole nations, cultures and languages into a simplistic construct. The paradigms of “Middle East” and “Islamic Civilization” fail to address the distinctness of Persianate civilization and the fact that Iran is definitively a subset of this phenomenon.
MANY ARE EAGERLY AWAITING YOUR ATTE N DA N CE AT THE TIRGAN FESTIVAL. COULD YOU PROVIDE US A GLIMPSE OF WHAT YOU WILL FOCUS ON DURING YOUR SPEAKING ENGAGEMENT? The main objective will be to introduce the audience to littleknown findings published in 2003 highlighting the links in arts and architecture between ancient Achaemenid Persia and southern Italy (specifically Calabria) as well as the continuing links between Sassanian architecture-arts and findings in Italy, Europe and a sketch of the background of Baghdad. The context of the presentation will be set within the framework of the Achaemenid city-palace of Persepolis and its influences upon the Caucasus, the northern Bosphorus (or Bosphoran kingdom of modern-day Ukraine) and even China. This presentation is meant to expostulate the arts-architecture legacy of ancient Iran, one resonating far beyond its frontiers. The presentation will then conclude with the aforementioned enigmatic winged Persian lion discovered in Meskheti. //
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T I R G A N M AG A Z I N E 2 0 1 3
COMMITMENT TO CULTURAL TRADITIONS A PILLAR OF STRENGTH The Iranian community in Toronto has demonstrated remarkable resilience in two key respects: countering long-standing media portrayals that they are to be associated with the religious fanaticism of their country of origin, and success in building a vibrant community with cosmopolitan flair and an insatiable appetite for success in post-secondary education. This is, of course, not to mention that many Torontonians have pre-emptively categorized the Iranian community as a collective House of BMWs. But the Iranian community’s success is certainly not about the cliché image of expensive car ownership. Over the modest span of less than three decades,Toronto’s Iranian community has produced strong brands and personalities in key sectors of the economy, as well as on the political stage. From property developers that have successfully turned high-rises into household brand names (Shane Baghai,Times
Group and Liberty Village to name a few), to nationally recognized broadcast journalists (Jian Ghomeshi), to entrepreneurs who have built business outlets from the ground up and are recognized as Canadian retail giants (Future Shop and Hakim Optical), to little known local politicians who have remarkably broken glass ceilings to become members of the provincial cabinet (Reza Moridi).All such milestones are indicative of this community’s vibrancy and relentless strive for excellence. One becomes curious whether this community possesses some secret recipe for its remarkable success in Canada within such a short time span. The secret recipe is almost undoubtedly the unbreakable bond Iranians have with their cultural roots and their firm belief in the importance of preserving such traditions.This firm and unshakeable belief has been a signature survival tactic for centuries and proven a key impetus for the success of Iranians as a diaspora. Iran’s cultural traditions act was a common thread that
cuts through religious, political, and ethnic distinctions. Iranian Canadians along with Iranian Americans may not be known for their political unity, but their resolve to keep their traditions alive has historically superseded their political differences. A vivid demonstration of this unbreakable bond is witnessed during Norouz, the Iranian New Year celebration that starts with the arrival of the first day of spring. During Norouz it is hard to miss the bustling Iranian community in North York, Richmond Hill, and Markham, where the bulk of IranianCanadians reside. And this summer it will be equally difficult to miss the buzz around the Tirgan Festival, when Toronto’s Iranian community will mark its stamp on Toronto’s culture scene by displaying great traditions for both local and international audiences, and making it clear that a commitment to history and cultural traditions are a pillar of greatness. //
R E Z A A K H L A G H I I S A S E N I O R W R I T E R A N D E D I T O R O F T H E M I D D L E E A S T S E C T I O N AT T H E F O R E I G N P O L I C Y A S S O C I AT I O N , A F O R E I G N P O L I C Y O R G A N I Z AT I O N B A S E D I N M A N H AT TA N , N E W YO R K F O U N D E D I N 1 9 1 8 . H E R E S I D E S I N T O R O N T O .
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TIRGAN FESTIVAL REACHING FOR THE SUN In a modern, diverse, and culturally vibrant metropolitan city such as Toronto, the Iranian- Canadian community is proud to share its rich artistic and cultural heritage with others through the Tirgan Festival. The unimaginable socio-political turmoil that has been taking place in Iran since 1979 has caused all forms of Iranian intellectual and artistic riches to be covered under thick sediments of international and regional tension. With many Iranians having left their motherland over the course of the last 35 years for this very reason, Canada has beaconed as a land of opportunity and hope. In 2001, the latest Canadian Census figures established that there were at least 88,220 Canadians of Iranian descent living in Canada. Fast-forward five years, and the next Census in 2006 confirmed the number had surged by over thirty five percent to 121,505. Now in 2013, it is safe to estimate the actual number as well over 200,000 with a good majority living in the Greater Toronto Area. Although still a young community, Iranian-Canadians have missed no opportunity to connect and engage in cross-cultural endeavors with mainstream Canadian society. By showcasing the diversity of Iranian arts and culture across all its majestic forms, ranging from the traditional to the modern,Tirgan Festival has contributed greatly to enriching the cultural mosaic of Toronto. From its initial launch in 2006, to its much larger presentations at Torontoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s magnificent Harbourfront Center on the shores of Lake Ontario in 2008 and 2011,Tirgan Festival has proven a magnet for talented creators of art and literature, both young and old, to display their take on a civilization that has offered such great masters of poetry to humanity as Ferdowsi, Rumi, Khayyam, and Hafiz. The Tirgan festival has attracted the attention of Iranians and non-Iranians alike on an unprecedented global scale. By inviting musical acts and singers, theatrical and dance groups,
screen actors and directors, literary creators and critics, and painters and sculptors, not only from Canada but from other parts of the world as well, the Tirgan Festival has created much excitement. Such professional rivalry is imperative for preserving and further developing a rich 2000 year old heritage. Suffice it to mention that there were more than 50 and 70 musical, dance, stage and screen shows performed at Tirgan 2008 and Tirgan 2011, respectively.The Silk Road Dance Company (based in Washington D.C.), Saeid Shanbehzadeh Ensemble (based in Paris), Persian classical musician Mohammad-Reza Lotfi (based in Iran), contemporary Iranian writer Mahshid Amirshahi (residing in France), Persian literary researcher Houra Yavari (based in New York), the visual artist Nasser Ovissi (from Washington), and stage director Niloofar Beyzaie (based in Europe), are just several examples of the long list of eminent participants at past Tirgan festivals. Furthermore, the attendance in Toronto of internationally renowned Iranian icons such as Dr. Ehsan Yarshater, founder of Encyclopaedia Iranica, and Anousheh Ansari, the first Iranian, not to mention the first self-funded woman in space, has become a reality because of Tirgan. The stage is now set for a more sophisticated and improved festival in July 2013 at the multi-venue and advanced Harbourfront Centre in Toronto. With many distinguished Iranians from all walks of life attending, and benefiting from the help of hundreds of volunteers, the organizers have worked hard to attract thousands of visitors to Tirgan 2013 to experience a unique taste of Iranian arts and culture. The color of the customs, the taste of the dishes, the presence of celebrities, and the cheers of the enthusiastic crowds will make this festival another unforgettable experience. The dust will settle down, the sky will become crystal blue, and the majestic beauty of Iranian arts and literature will shine like the sun.Tirgan Festival offers an excellent preview of that.
M O H S E N TA G H AV I I S T H E E D I T O R - I N - C H I E F O F S A L A M T O R O N T O N E W S PA P E R
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T I R G A N M AG A Z I N E 2 0 1 3
FIVE REASONS WHY I LOVE TIRGAN I am an Iranian who has lived in Canada for most of my life, and lived outside Iran more than I have in that country. Many of us in the diaspora have lived or been raised with images of Mount Alborz, Darband, Shahyad Square, Asheh Reshteh, and Bastaniy-e Akbar Mashti in our earliest days. Should we have occasion to return to Iran for a visit, we run around cafe’s for a few weeks, or if fortunate for months, or hang out at the local Bazaar to spend our money, battle with taxi drivers, etc, etc. Yet ultimately after such detours we return home where we live in Canada without having learning much about the inner workings of the homeland, its history, or the unique memories and experiences of its people. Far too often I have sat around dinner tables with members of our diaspora, bemoaning, “Iran this, Iran that”. Such friendly banters invariably commence with “You know what the problem with Iran is?”What tickles my curiousity to no end is that those holding the strongest of opinions have not spent any extended period of time in Iran, if any. Most Torontonians would agree that we are fortunate to live in a city at the forefront of creativity, and justifiably pride themselves for hosting such world renown artistic events as the Toronto International Film Festival and Luminato. For others who prefer to refer to this city as Tehranto, the Tirgan Festival has emerged as the indispensable and unforgettable artistic event to celebrate and showcase the Iranian arts, culture and history. Our reasons for embracing the Tirgan and taking pride in its achievements are that the biennial event has proven peerless in facilitating a cross-cultural dialogue between the Iranian community and our wider Canadian home The Tirgan family provides all of us with a unique experience, the likes of which members of the Iranian diaspora have not been afforded anywhere else. Little wonder, therefore, that I am profoundly grateful to all members of the Tirgan organization for paving the way for a profound experience I could nor possibly partake in elsewhere. I have to thank Tirgan for keeping my company with its lively rhythms and spectacles at the Harbourfront
Centre every two years. Its eclectic mix of tunes never seize to entertain, from Shanbezadeh, Chakavak Ensemble, Sepideh Raissadat and love stories from the Shahnameh. For one magical weekend every two years I get to enjoy Persian folkloric remixes and am provided a license to meet friends, to dance, enjoy dazzling visual arts, indulge in culinary delights and marvel at crafts. Yet my top 5 reasons for being grateful to all members of the Tirgan family for weaving together such a rich tapestry that stitches together the contemporary and traditional arts and culture of Iran are the following; You are all about fostering cultural pride, and such displays of pride for Iranian culture are indispensable 1 to fortifying our self motivation and developing our collective and individual self esteems;
You highlight what makes us all unique as Iranians;
You provide our community with an ideal venue at which numerous individuals can interact with one another and take pleasure in learning from each other and in enjoying socializing and connecting in-person;
You allow us to gain a deeper appreciation of the varied cultures existing within our community in Toronto and remind us of the reasons we remain attached to each stand of our cultures; and.
Last but certainly not least, I am madly and irrevocably in love with volunteerism and its immense capacity for improving all our lives.
Let me say in no uncertain terms that I love you all a whole lot more than for providing countless individuals from around the world a weekend during which to gather and have fun. What you provide is a lifetime of endless memories. Thank you Tirgan family for having provided me a spiritual home and an abode of hope for the last eight years. No, I’m not quite going anywhere just yet, but wanted to personally thank and salute you each nonetheless.
S T E V E TA B R I Z I H A S G E N E R O U S LY C O N T R I B U T E D T O T I R G A N F E S T I VA L A S A D E S I G N AT E D A R T L O V E R F O R 2 0 1 3
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F E S T I VA L O V E R V I E W E H S S A N TA G H AV I
DA N C E VA N C O U V E R P A R S N A T I O N A L B A L L E T D A T E : JULY 2 0, 2 01 3 ; A N D J U LY 2 1 , 2 01 3 LOCATION: W ESTJ ET STAG E
The Vancouver Pars National Ballet will present a variety of folk and traditional Iranian dances at Tirgan 2013.
DA N C E H U R I - F L A M E N CO DA N C E AND MUSIC D A T E : J U LY 20, 201 3 ; A N D J U LY 21 , 201 3 LOC AT I O N : F L E C K DA N C E T HEAT R E
DA N C E LOVE STORIES OF THE SHAHNAMEH D A T E : JULY 1 9, 2 01 3 ; J U LY 2 0, 2013 A N D J U LY 2 1 , 2 01 3 LOCATION : FL EC K DA N C E THEAT R E
“Love Stories” is based on epic poems from Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh (“Book of Kings”) to retell tales of “Shirin & Khosrow”, “Bahram & Arezoo” and “Sohrab & Gordafarid”. This program is designed and staged in a storytelling tradition known as naqqali, combined with music and dance. The music consists of traditional Persian melodies by renowned composers.
DA N C E B Y M AY N Z A R D D A N C E G R O U P D A T E : J U LY 2 0, 2 01 3 LO C ATI O N : W E STJ E T STAG E
This performance covers 7 famous styles of Kurdish dance that have been modified, rearranged and choreographed for stage performance.
Huri represents the shout of an Iranian woman’s silence liberated through Flamenco dance and music. Huri is the experience of an Iranian woman born and raised under the Islamic republic of Iran. It’s about the hopes and dreams of childhood, limitations of the society and religion, frustration, rejection of submission, acceptance and survival under oppression, and the nostalgia of an abandoned land. Huri will be bringing to the stage the essence, purity and integrity of one of the world’s most complex and mysterious art forms, flamenco.
DA N C E T U R K I S H DA N C E D A T E : J U LY 1 9, 2 01 3 AND J U LY 2 1 , 2 01 3 LO C ATI O N : R E D PATH STAGE
Odlar Dance Ensemble will perform some of the most popular Azerbaijani dances.
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T I R G A N M AG A Z I N E 2 0 1 3
KIDS PROGRAMS D A T E : J ULY 2 0, 2 013 ; A N D JU LY 2 1 , 2 01 3 LOCATION : K IDS ZON E T E N T A N D SOUT H O R C HA R D T E N T
1 0 0 1 N I G H T S A N I M AT I O N D A T E : J U LY 2 0, 2 01 3 (2 SCREENINGS); A N D J U LY 2 1 , 2 01 3 LO C ATI O N : STU DI O T H E ATR E
L I T E R A R Y P R E S E N TAT I O N D A T E : J U LY 20, 2 01 3; AND J U LY 2 1 , 2 013 LO C ATI O N : LA KE SID E T ERRACE
Storytelling, Music & Dance Workshops, Singing, Games, Contests, etc.
Watch Big Bad Boo’s latest TV series “1001 Nights”. Created and produced by Aly Jetha & Shabnam Rezaei, it was nominated for 13 LEO Awards and won 4. This award-winning animated series is currently broadcasting in 80 countries in more than 15 languages
It is a tradition that when the Prince marries the girl he loves; there will be celebrations for 7 days and 7 nights. But, during the first night of the wedding, the bride goes missing, and ...
F I L M & T H E AT R E THE KING OF BLACK AND Q&A BY SHOJA AZARI D A T E : J U LY 2 1 , 2 01 3 LO C ATI O N : STU D I O TH E ATRE
F I L M & T H E AT R E CONFERENCE OF THE BIRDS D A T E : J ULY 2 0, 2 013 A N D JU LY 2 1 , 2 01 3 LOCATION: BR IG A N T IN E R OOM
A workshop presentation of The Conference of the Birds is based on a twelfth-century Sufi poem by Farid ud-Din Attar. The Conference of the Birds is a mystic fable allegorizing the human condition and humankind’s search for truth within itself. Directed by Soheil Parsa with acting students from the Parya Foundation. The presentation will be in Persian.
F I L M & T H E AT R E C O L L E C T I O N O F S H O R T F I L M S B Y S H I R I N N E S H AT D A T E : JU LY 1 9, 2 01 3 LOCATION: ST UD IO T HEAT R E
Neshat’s provocative photographs, videos and multimedia installations have resonated with curators at many major international art exhibitions, including the XLVIII Venice Biennale, where she won the top prize in 1999. Her first feature film,Women Without Men, tells the stories of four women struggling to escape oppression in Tehran.
“The King of Black,” a 24-minute film is an adaptation of a chapter of the Haft Paykar, the romantic epic of the 12th century, by Nizami of Ganja. Haft Paykar or Seven Beauties is an allegorical romance, which takes self-knowledge as the essential path to human enlightenment as its central theme. Over the past few years, Azari has successfully taken historical and traditional work from the past and merging it with a contemporary context. In both “The Day of the Last Judgment” (2009) and Untitled (2012) videos, Azari uses Persian miniature and coffee house paintings as the backdrop for contemporary scenes of conflict, war and political horrors.
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F E S T I VA L O V E R V I E W
F I L M & T H E AT R E WOMEN WITHOUT MEN AND Q&A D A T E : J U LY 2 0, 2 01 3 LOC AT I O N : STU DI O T H E ATR E
Against the tumultuous backdrop of Iran’s 1953 CIA-backed coup d’état, the destinies of four women converge in a beautiful orchard garden, where they find independence, solace and companionship.
F I L M & T H E AT R E A S U RV I OVO R F R O M M AG A DA N AND Q&A BY AREF MOHAMMADI D A T E : J U LY 2 0, 2 01 3 LO C ATI O N : STU DI O T H E ATR E
This is a true story of Dr. Ata Safavi who was a dissident of (Mohammad Reza) Shah and had to escape to the Sovien Union, envisioned by many Iranians as the Communists› paradise. He spent 27 years in prison in Magadan, a town located in northeastern Russia and a part of Siberia
WORKSHOPS C O O K I N G D E M O N S T R AT I O N B Y N A J M I E H B AT M A N G L I J D A T E : J U LY 2 0 , 2 0 1 3 ; A N D J U LY 2 1 , 2 0 1 3 LOCATION: LA K ESID E T ER R AC E
During her cooking demonstration, the Iranian culinary guru provides participants with a glimpse of the secrets of ancient cuisine ”. At Tirgan 2013 Najmieh will demonstrate some classic gourmet Iranian dish such as green bites (doymaj) and saffron flavored Persian rice with golden crust (tah-diq) served with an eggplant braise (khoresh-e bademjan). She will also share the secret of using saffron and rose water in Iranian cooking.
TA L K / P R E S E N TAT I O N
DA F WO R KS H O P D A T E : J U LY 2 0 , 2 0 1 3 AND J U LY 2 1 , 2 0 1 3 LOC AT I O N : RE DPATH STAG E
B Y M O N I R O U R AVA N I P U R D A T E : J U LY 2 0 , 2 0 1 3 LO C ATI O N : MI SS LO U ’ S
Araz Nayeb Pashayee will present highly educational and entertaining Daf workshop at a beginner level to music enthusiasts of all ages.
Moniro will read three chapters from her novel, An Angel on Earth.
TA L K / P R E S E N TAT I O N B Y D R . L E I L I A N VA R D A T E : J U LY 2 0 , 2 0 1 3 LO C ATI O N : MI SS LO U ’ S
A presentation of the Conference of the Birds together with projection and commentary of a number of Persian miniatures related to the famous mystical poem composed at the end of the 7th century by Farîduddiîn ‘Attâr.enthusiasts of all ages.
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T I R G A N M AG A Z I N E 2 0 1 3
TA L K / P R E S E N TAT I O N SHAHNAMEH THE EPIC BOOK OF KINGS BY HAMID RAHMANIAN D A T E : J U LY 20 A N D 21 , 201 3 LO C ATI O N : MI SS LOU’S
The Making of the New Illustrated Shahnameh. Taking the audience via power point presentations to the journey of making the illustrations of the new edition Shahnameh. The artist will also talk about the unique attributes of the current edition of the book such as illustrating nightmares and dreams for the first time along with the creation of a map of Shahnameh.
TA L K / P R E S E N TAT I O N C O R R E L AT I O N S O F V I S U A L A R T S A N D C I N E M A A N D Q & A B Y S H O J A A Z A R I , S H I R I N N E S H A T A N D B A B A K P AYA M I D A T E : JU LY 1 9, 2 01 3 LOCATION: L A K ESID E T E R R AC E
Neshat’s provocative photographs, videos and multimedia installations have resonated with the curators of many major international art exhibitions, including the XLVIII Venice Biennale, where she won the top prize in 1999. Her first feature film, Women Without Men, tells the stories of four women struggling to escape oppression in Tehran.
TA L K / P R E S E N TAT I O N
TA L K / P R E S E N TAT I O N
TIES BETWEEN ANCIENT I R A N A N D I T A LY B Y D R . K AV E H FA R R O K H D A T E : J U LY 20, 201 3 LO C ATI O N : MI SS LO U ’ S
T H E VA L U E O F T H E RADIF OR COLLECTION O F M O DA L SYST E M S BY D R . L LOY D M I L L E R D A T E : J U LY 2 1 , 2 0 1 3 LO C ATI O N : MI SS LOU’S
This presentation will highlight the decades-long research of the government of Calabria investigating ties between ancient Iran and Italy. Examples of ties are Apadana at Persepolis Catedralle Di Gerace, as well as floor plans of Sassanian architecture architecture in Italy.Ties between the figures of persophone, Darius the great (at Lokori), the Goddesses Kore, as well as Anahita will also be addressed.
Dr. Miller will discuss his discovery of Master Safvat in 1961 in Paris and his long apprenticeship since then including 6 years in Tehran as the public relations expert for Dr. Safvat’s Center for the Preserva- tion and Propagation of Iranian Music. The value of the radif or collection of modal systems as passed down by authorized masters and their preservation.
TA L K / P R E S E N TAT I O N
TA L K / P R E S E N TAT I O N
EASTERN ARTS OF VISUALIZING PERSIAN M U S I C T H R O U G H PAT T E R N E D MOVEMENT B Y K AT H E R I N E S T. J O H N D A T E : J ULY 2 0, 2 013 LOCATION: M ISS LOU’S
IN THE LION’S SHADOW: THE IRANIAN SCHINDLER AND HIS HOMELAND B Y FA R I B O R Z M O K H TA R I D A T E : J U LY 1 9, 2 01 3 LO C ATI O N : STU D I O TH E ATR E
Ms. St.John will discuss the system developed by Eastern Arts of visualizing Persian music through patterned movement by ballet experts
Neshat’s provocative photographs, videos and multimedia installations have resonated with curators at many major international art exhibitions, including the XLVIII Venice Biennale, where she won the top prize in 1999. Her first feature film, Women Without Men, tells the stories of four women struggling to escape oppression in Tehran.
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F E S T I VA L O V E R V I E W
MUSIC VESAL ENSEMBLE D A T E : J U LY 2 0, 2 01 3 LOC AT I O N : B R I G A N TI N E
The Kurdish part of Vesal’s performance consists of eight songs, which represent three different accents of the Kurdish language, Kalhori, Sowrani and Orami.
MUSIC MUSIC GILAKI FOLK MUSIC D A T E : J ULY 2 0, 2 013 ; A N D JULY 2 1 , 2 01 3 LOCATION: R ED PAT H STAG E
Sheila Nahrvar will be performing 6-7 folkloric Gilaki songs from the North of Iran. Her unique band consists of 4 professional musicians playing the piano, drums, the clarinet and bass.
H A M E D N I K P AY A N D E N S E M B L E D A T E : J U LY 2 0, 2 01 3 A N D J U LY 2 1 , 2 01 3 LO C ATI O N : E N WAV E
Hamed’s performance will include highlights from his body of works reflected in his albums as well as impromptu improvisations with members of the ensemble. Hamed Nikpay will be accompanied with a world class ensemble -Farzin Farhadi on Soprano Sax, Satnam Ramgotra on Tabla, Hussain Jiffry on bass, and Alfredo Cáceres on Flamenco Guitar.
MUSIC I R A N I A N N AT I O N A L CHOIR D A T E : J U LY 2 1 , 2 0 1 3 LOCATION: BR IG A N T IN E
The Iranian National Choir, consisting of a piano player and 10 choristers and conducted by Kamal Taravati , will perform a collection of western, classical, national, folkloric and pop songs from Iran as well as children and world music.
MUSIC B A B A K TA G H I K H A N I A N D SOLMAZ PEYMAEI D A T E : J U LY 20, 201 3 A N D J ULY 21 , 201 3 LO C ATI O N : B R I G A N TI N E
MUSIC SARV ENSEMBLE D A T E : J U LY 2 1 , 2 0 1 3 LOC AT I ON : BR I G A N TI N E
Sarv Ensemble will present a program of music from all corners of Iran on traditional instruments including, kamanche, tar, robab, gheichak, santour, and more.
Solmaz and Babak’s music is mainly focused on the interaction and fusion of Iranian (mostly traditional and folk) and non-Iranian materials to form a brand new rendition of what they call a lifetime of searcing for sounds in their instruments. The result is a deep oriental sound that would satisfythe cravings of noble and trained ears, which enjoy layers of complexity, rather than the familiar perpetuating monophonic tunes that for years have been held sacred.
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T I R G A N M AG A Z I N E 2 0 1 3
MUSIC THE CIRCLE D A T E : J U LY 2 1 , 2 01 3 LO C ATI O N : W E STJ E T STAG E
The first section of The Circle’s performance in Tirgan will be based on contemporary poetry, such as those of Sohrab Sepehri and Ahmad Shamlou. The second section will take the audience back in time to songs based on Rumi and Araghi’s poetry.
MUSIC N E DA , F R O M G O O G O OS H ACADEMY D A T E : J U LY 2 1 , 2013 LO C ATI O N : W E STJET STAGE
MUSIC DILAN ENSEMBLE D A T E : JU LY 2 0, 2 01 3 A N D JU LY 2 1 , 2 01 3 LOCATION : L A K ESID E T ER R AC E
Emerging Artists from the Googoosh Academy.
The pieces that will be performed are a unique selection of melodies based on the vocal repertoire of Kurdistan’s Garmiyan region.
MUSIC BLURRED VISION D AT E : J U LY 1 8 , 2 0 1 3 LOCATION : REDPATH STAG E
Blurred Vision will perform their debut album “Organized Insanity”, produced by multi platinum selling veteran producer Terry Brown (RUSH). The album drops July 2, 2013. The band will perform the album in its entirety at the Tirgan Festival.
O P E R AT I C N A R R AT I O N OF ARASH THE ARCHER D A T E : JU LY 1 8 , 2 01 3 LOCATION: W ESTJ ET STAG E
MANELI JAMAL D A T E : J U LY 1 9 , 2 0 1 3 A N D J U LY 2 0 , 2 0 1 3 LO C ATI O N : R E D PATH STAG E
Arash the Archer is an operatic narration of one of the most well known Iranian myths which has captivated many with its universal values such as redemption, hope and sacrifice. ICOT creates a new version of the story directed by Siavash Shabanpour. Arash the Archer is a musical collage incorporating operatic singing, orchestral music, theatrical elements, video and stage design.
Maneli Jamal is a guitar virtuoso who combines his nomadic life stories into musical movements while trying to make his solo guitar sound like multiple instruments. Having lived in many different countries in his lifetime, Maneli knows all about the concept of hope and how to convey it through his music with unorthodox guitar techniques.
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MUSIC RANA MANSOUR A N D KA R M A N DA N D A T E : JULY 1 9, 2 01 3 ; AND JULY 20, 2 013 LOCATION : W ESTJ E T STAGE
Bana Mansour and Erwin Khachikian proudly present their artistic collaboration at this year’s Tirgan Festival. Rana and Erwin will perform their original songs backed by the band Karmandan, Khachikian’s theatrical innovation. Their performance will also highlight songs from previous decades arranged and presented with a modern edge.
MUSIC S E P I D E H R A I S S A D AT D A T E : J U LY 1 9, 2 01 3 ; A N D J U LY 20, 201 3 LO C ATI O N : EN WAV E
MUSIC S AY E S K Y D A T E : J U LY 1 9 , 2 0 1 3 A N D J U LY 2 0 , 2 0 1 3 LOC AT I ON : BR I G A N TI N E
Saye Sky will perform 4 rap songs and 1 spoken word about lost love, women’s struggles, children’s rights, and the current state of social and political issues faced in Iran.
This concert is an initiatory journey into various traditions and periods of Persian music. Based on the latest musical research, Sepideh Raissadat, Kiya Tabassian and their colleagues will revisit some of the most interesting and beautiful of rediscovered treasures of the Persian classical music from the Safavid period.
MUSIC AJAM D A T E : J U LY 1 9, 2 01 3 ; A N D J U LY 20, 201 3 LO C ATI O N : W E STJ E T STAG E
Ajam’s live performance will encapsulate a variety of performance styles inspired by music and rituals that are rooted in Iran. The live soundscape is an amalgamation of traditional and tribal acoustic instruments with an undercurrent of modern electronic urban music elements. All of this is delivered in a dynamic performance, which incorporates elements of dance movements.
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T I R G A N M AG A Z I N E 2 0 1 3
T H E T H I R D S PAC E C U R AT O R S A N A Z M A Z I N A N I D A T E : J ULY 2 0, 2 01 3 LOCATION: M ISS LOU’ S
NEEMEHA D A T E : J U LY 1 9, 201 3 AND J U LY 2 0, 2013 LO C ATI O N : B R I G ANT INE
Pasargadae was the first capital of Achaemenid Empire; the largest empire the world has yet seen, founded by Cyrus the Great in the 6th century B.C.
Neemeha will perform a collection of their famous pop songs as well as avant-garde songs they have recently composed. Guest musicians Mahsa , Ben and Ekaterina are involved in this show to perform songs with new arrangements.
VISUAL ARTS HOPE ECHOED A GROUP EXHIBITION D A T E : J U LY 1 9 - 2 1 , 2 01 3 LO C ATI O N : MA R I LY N B R E W E R CO M M U N I TY SPAC E
A Sentiment in Contemporary Iranian Portraiture, Featuring artworks by some of Toronto’s most exceptional visual artists producing works today.
T H E T H I R D S PAC E C U R AT O R S A N A Z M A Z I N A N I D A T E : JU LY 1 9 - 2 1 , 2 01 3 LOCATION: ST UD IO T HEAT R E
MADE IN CHINA D A T E : J U LY 1 9 - 2 1, 2013 LO C ATI O N : O U TDO O R
An outdoor art installation by Negar Farajiani A group exhibition focused on work that navigates the terrains of cultural transience.
IN MEMORY OF SADEGH TIRAFKAN D A T E : JU LY 1 9, 2 01 3 LOCATION: ST UD IO T HEAT R E
HOPE PHOTO CONTEST GALLERY D A T E : J U LY 1 9 - 2 1 , 2 01 3 LO C ATI O N : STU DI O T H E ATR E
A tribute to the talented Iranian-Canadian visual artist, Sadegh Tirafkan. * This event will follow the short story and photo contest award
An exhibition, organized by CafeLitt of photos that made the final round of Hope photo contest of 2013.
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JOURNEY TO THE EAST When it comes to contemporary Iranian art, Canada isn’t exactly one of the first places I think about.With the majority of exhibitions, art fairs, and auctions outside Iran being held in the UAE and Western Europe, Canada is often dismissed as a cultural backwater in this respect.While cities such as Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal boast some of the largest populations of Iranians in the diaspora, strangely, we’ve witnessed relatively few substantial artistic undertakings with respect to contemporary Iranian visual art across the country. However, with endeavours such as Tirgan, and recently, the groundbreaking Safar / Voyage exhibition at the University of British Columbia’s Museum of Anthropology, the tables seem to be turning – slowly, but surely. I first heard about Safar on a sunny, winter afternoon over an espresso with my friend, Mrs. Nezhat Khosrowshahi. At first, I couldn’t believe my ears.The works of Parviz Tanavoli, Farhad Moshiri, Mitra Tabrizian, and Y.Z. Kami all gathered together in one place? Khodaya. After having recently returned to Toronto from London (UK), where I hopped about from one Iranian art exhibition to another, chardonnay in hand, my withdrawal symptoms were at their worst, and I was striving to come to terms with my new place of ‘exile’. The news couldn’t have come at a better time. Staring in a state of semi-incredulity into the recesses of the swarthy coffee grounds before me, a glimmer of hope flickered in my eyes. Perhaps there is a chance for this city after all, I thought. Running through September 15, 2013, the Safar exhibition, chaired by Mrs. Khosrowshahi and curated by Dr. Fereshteh Daftari, features the works of not only a number of distinguished Iranian artists, but also those from Turkey and the Arab world. As the name – common to the Persian, Arabic, and Turkish languages – suggests, the exhibition revolves around the
concept of the journey. Not only is this reflected in the works of the artists in the exhibition, who have embarked on both inner and outward journeys, but also in Safar’s aim to take audiences on a voyage of sorts throughout the modern Middle East. Hungry to learn more about the exhibition, I could think of no better individual to speak with than the event’s main attraction – Ostad Parviz Tanavoli. One of the founding fathers of contemporary Iranian art as we know it, Ostad Tanavoli perhaps best known in the art world for his sublime Heech series of sculptures – is not only participating as an artist in the exhibition, but was also fundamental in bringing it to fruition, along with a group of distinguished entrepreneurs, curators, artists, and historians from the Iranian-Canadian community. Speaking calmly with a humbleness and modesty defying his grandeur, Ostad Tanavoli began our conversation by highlighting the purpose behind the exhibition. ‘[The Middle East] is an area that is unknown to most people, and the news that reaches here is mostly negative … about war, terrorism, and fighting’, he explained. ‘The exhibition will give a taste of the Middle East today. It won’t be like [the writings of] the travellers of the 17th and 18th Centuries’. Brilliant, I thought - not only will the exhibition shine a light on a much-misunderstood region, but it will also avoid the oft-taken neo-Orientalist route.Why, though, I wondered, have we had to wait so long for an exhibition of this caliber? And why has Vancouver, rather than Toronto or Montreal, for instance, been chosen as its location? ‘I don’t know why [this exhibition] didn’t happen anywhere else’, he tells me. ‘The interest was always here in Vancouver, but we didn’t have a venue.When we found out [the Museum of Anthropology] was interested … that was great news!’
J O O B I N B E K H R A D I S T H E F O U N D E R A N D E D I TO R O F R E O R I E N T, T H E O N L I N E M A G A Z I N E C E L E B R AT I N G C O N T E M P O R A R Y M I D D L E E A S T E R N A R T S & C U LT U R E . H E I S A L S O T H E C O - F O U N D E R O F A R TC LV B , A S I T E S H O W C A S I N G C O N T E M P O R A R Y A R T F R O M T H E M I D D L E E A S T, A N D Q R 8 , A N O N L I N E P L AT F O R M F O R C O N T E M P O R A R Y M I D D L E E A S T E R N A R T G A L L E R I E S A N D C O L L E C T I O N S . A S W E L L , H E H A S R E C E N T LY A U T H O R E D A N E W E N G L I S H T R A N S L AT I O N O F T H E Q U AT R A I N S / R U B A I Y YAT O F O M A R K H AY YA M .
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JOOBIN BEKHRAD TA L K S TO PA R V I Z TA N AV O L I A B O U T A M A J O R E X H I B I T I O N O F C O N T E M P O R A R Y M I D D L E E A S T E R N A R T I N VA N C O U V E R
Though the name Tanavoli has, in recent years, become somewhat synonymous with the word ‘heech’, the Ostad has instead chosen to participate with another work, entitled Oh Persepolis.With a tinge of remorse, he speaks about the monolithic sculpture and his nostalgia for the former house of the Achaemenid throne.‘My work is based on melancholy for Persepolis, and my concern about what is happening to it’, he says.‘[Shortly after the Revolution], some extremists wanted to destroy it; [now], it is [subject to] damage and pollution, and nobody is looking after it’.As he continues, I recall images of spiky-haired teenagers hacking their names into those ancient stones and pillars, weathered by the ravages of time, yet still standing tall in defiance.‘I want to bring the attention of the world to this ancient site, and tell them they should do something about it. It’s a pity it’s going to be destroyed’. In addition to the exhibition, a three-day seminar entitled Nomadic Aesthetics and the Importance of Place was also held at the Museum in May. Featuring a variety of speakers, the renowned architects Nader Ardalan and Hossein Amanat provided lectures on Iranian architecture, while the scholar Abbas Amanat discussed changes in the Middle East as seen through the eyes of travellers of both the past and the present. Given the fact that nomadism has always been a central element of the Iranian character and identity (one need only recall the tales of the fabled Scythians and Alans), the theme of the seminar tied in beautifully with that of the exhibition. Having always had a fondness for Iranian tribal and folk culture, I’ve often wondered: does the blood of our forefathers still flow strong within us yet? Perhaps the Ostad is a living example of the ever-nomadic Iranian soul.‘A bit of that blood exists in me!’ he exclaims.‘This nomadic blood, and not being tied down to a certain place – it’s very genetic, you can feel it’, he says, with an unmistakable
ardour.‘When spring comes, I have to pack and go, no matter what.This is … something in my blood’.While nomadism is often romanticized, and considered the stuff of myth and legend, as Ostad Tanavoli elucidates, the explanation behind it may be a lot simpler than some might deign to think.‘One of the reasons is that we have four seasons, especially in Iran and Turkey … Spring is pleasant … you want to go somewhere else and put the long winter behind you’, he remarks.‘In summer, you want to settle down by the mountains, and in fall … you want to go … [to] the vicinities of the Persian Gulf.This [nomadism] is all very interconnected with nature’. Dubai, Abu Dhabi, London – they’ve all had their share of noteworthy Iranian art happenings. Now, perhaps, it is Canada’s time to emerge as a formidable and relevant player in the burgeoning Middle Eastern art scene. Safar is definitely the first of its kind in Canada, and with its scale and caliber, one can only hope that it will make a journey of its own across the nation. ‘We are hoping that other museums will also showcase this exhibition’, the Ostad tells me. ‘With the demand and growth of Middle Easterners in Canada, there is going to be a good reason to follow up on this exhibition’. Until just a few years ago, the cultural happenings the Iranian community in Canada could boast about were limited to a few sporadic events here and there, which largely passed under the radar screen.Today, Canada has played host to not only the world’s largest Iranian arts & culture festival, but also one of the most important exhibitions of contemporary Iranian art by any standard. It feels good to be Canadian. Hopefully, one day we’ll look back on all these events as only the foundations of a thriving Iranian art scene here, and walk proudly – chardonnay permitting, of course – among our friends east of the Atlantic. ‘Tirgan? Safar? Mmm hmm.We did ‘em’.
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T I R G A N M AG A Z I N E 2 0 1 3
, EDITOR S QUICK NOTES
TA R A G E R M A I W I N N I N G R AV E R E V I E W S I N T H E U N I T E D S TAT E S
MANELLI JAMAL CONTINUES TO R A K E I N AWA R D S
After experiencing a sold-out run for her play Mahmoud at the Tarragon Theatre, Ms. Gerami earned both the Patron’s Pick and Best of Fringe awards, as well as received glowing reviews for her performance from NOW Magazine. Her debut in New York proved no less successful. Performances of Mahmoud in the Lower East side of New York also sold out, and earned Tara an Excellence in Solo Performance Awards and an invitation to be a part of the Encore Series at the prestigious Soho Playhouse in NYC. The play also received a 5 star review in Time Out Magazine and was mentioned in the New York Times. Since late 2012, Tara has been performing in Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and Sherman Oaks, California, to receive a stellar review from LA weekly magazine.
Award winning guitar sensation Manelli Jamal continues to maintain a demanding schedule. After placing among the top three finalists in London’s Guitar Idol III in 2011, Manelli’s song “Awakening” received the first place award at the AES Best Recording Convention. After releasing his second LP “Lamaj Movement” with Candyrat in 2012, he undertook a 17 city tour of Canada to publicize the new CD release. Earlier this year Manelli toured New Zealand and Australia on a 35 city tour and secured the 2013 Beaches International Jazz Festival Hennessy award.
S O H E I L PA R S A CONTINUES TO SHINE
Following his role directing the acclaimed production of Eugène Ionesco’s The Lesson at the Modern Times Stage Company in 2012, Soheil Parsa was invested with the Diamond Jubilee and nominated for 8 Dora Mavor Moore awards.Yet Soheil continues to maintain an incredibly demanding schedule in 2013. Having already taught at the National Theatre School in Montreal earlier in the year, Mr. Parsa will direct forth year performing arts students at Ryerson University, to be followed by an invitation to the Stratford Festival in October to be part of their exploratory Directors group.
ANOTHER SIGNIFICANT MILESTONE FOR E N C YC L O PA E D I A IRANICA
The Herculean effort of completing the Encyclopaedia Iranica recently marked a very significant milestone. Led by the eminent Professor Ehssan Yarshater of Columbia University and a team of eight distinguished academic editors, the four decade long project has now reached the mid-point of its completion. To date the monumental project has resulted in the production of 15 volumes and is now focused on entries for the letter K. To allow the project to proceed, Professor Yarshater recently sold a Rodin sculpture he had previously brought from a Rockefeller at auction in 1975, and generously directed all proceeds from the U.S. $ 6.3 million sale towards the project. An ever gracious Professor Yarshater downplayed his own personal largesse by simply announcing “Rodin came to our rescue”. The Encyclopaedia Iranica also recently unveiled its Viva Iranica fundraising campaign to raise much needed financial contributions for the completion of the Encyclopaedia.
EMINENT IRANIANAMERICAN SCIENTIST FIROUZ NADERI MAKING SURPRISE VISIT TO TIRGAN 2013
Tirgan 2013 is proud to host an exclusive event with Mr. Firouz Naderi in Toronto. An eminent IranianAmerican scientist, Mr. Naderi currently serves as the Director for Solar System Exploration at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (“JPL”). He was appointed to head JPL in 2000, after the Program had suffered two consecutive failures. Having commenced his career at NASA in 1979, his career at JPL has spanned system engineering, technology development, system engineering, technology development, and program and project management for satellite communications systems, Earth remote sensing observatories, astrophysical observatories and planetary systems.We are particularly proud to host Mr. Naderi at a “Power Breakfast” session open to the public on July 20, 2013. //
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H A R B O U R F R O N T C E N T R E S TA F F William J.S. Boyle CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER Melanie Fernandez D I R E C TO R , C O M M U N I T Y A N D E D U C AT I O N A L P R O G R A M M E S Rodrigo Fritz P R OJ E C T C O O R D I N ATO R Diana Webley P R OJ E C T C O O R D I N ATO R Elizabeth Lubowitz H E A D O F A D M I N I S T R AT I O N Candace Shaw L E A D A R T I S T I C A S S O C I AT E Georgia Barrington A D M I N I S T R AT I V E C O O R D I N ATO R Natalie Buckley A D M I N I S T R AT I V E A S S I S TA N T, E V E N T S Ayesha Chatterjee A D M I N I S T R AT I V E A S S I S TA N T Andrea Strachan E V E N T P R O D U C T I O N M A N AG E R Kim Trollope T E C H N I C A L D I R E C TO R Scott Seetoo P R O D U C T I O N C O O R D I N ATO R Genevieve Peng VO L U N T E E R C O O R D I N ATO R Dorothy Szczurek A S S I S TA N T VO L U N T E E R C O O R D I N ATO R Suzanne Wyman V E N D O R C O O R D I N ATO R Margaret Saliba V E N D O R A S S I S TA N T
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