Iranians scream into pots at new contemporary art center

Mon Nov 10, 2014 12:44pm EST
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By Michelle Moghtader

DUBAI (Reuters) - A contemporary art gallery in central Tehran is giving Iranians a chance to let out their frustrations by screaming into clay pots sculpted by a Vancouver-based artist, exhibiting in the country of his ancestors for the first time.

The earthen pots, some of which resemble traditional water jars, are designed not for containing liquids but to relieve the stresses of urban life - noise, traffic and pollution - if only for a moment.

"When logic fails to explain, it becomes natural to scream. The (pots) reflect many conditions that we are faced with, often unexplained with logic," artist Babak Golkar told Reuters by e-mail from Canada last week, shortly after his exhibition opened.

Gallery creator Sohrab Kashani said it has been packed with stylish Iranians screaming into vessels of various shapes and sizes. Some are designed to amplify sound, some to mute, but all made with the same clay that is typical of parts of Iran.

Golkar said he had decided the time was right to return to Tehran after years of avoiding exhibiting there.

"I was physically gone for a long time but mentally never left. To come back and engage actively and not as a passive tourist was a true privilege," he said.

He, like many contemporary artists who have departed from traditional mediums such as painting and sculpture, had difficulty finding a place to work with experimental and performance-based mediums until Sazmanab, a privately funded art center founded by Kashani, stepped in.

Kashani, a self-taught artist and curator, set up the center in 2009 to counter the "dearth of contemporary art studies" in Iranian universities.   Continued...

Exhibition visitors look at the screaming pots of artist Babak Golkar in Tehran October 17, 2014. REUTERS/Mehdi Bolourian/Sazmanab/Handout via Reuters