Focus Iran 3 at Craft Contemporary

Hadi Safari _ press _ RGB
Hadi Safari, The Holy Healing Pole, Focus Iran 3, Craft Contemporary; Image courtesy of the artist

Focus Iran 3: Contemporary Photography and Video

through May 12
Craft Contemporary, Los Angeles

Written by Orly Minazad
For their third biennial Focus Iran series, Farhang Foundation has teamed up with Craft Contemporary (formerly known as Craft and Folk Art Museum) for an exhibition of 43 photographs and videos depicting the journeys of Iran’s resilient youth.

Three winners were chosen by a jury panel of photographers, cinematographers, gallerist and curators, including Craft Contemporary’s own Holly Jerger.

With the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution this year, this exhibit is especially important. The artists and their subjects are the direct product of the revolution, navigating their way through loss, love, rebellion and independence from an unsympathetic and backwards regime.

Designer Hushidar Mortezaei and photographer Jiyan Zandi took the first prize for their photograph titled The Brotherhood of two Iranian men with flower crowns dressed in nostalgic swag designed by Mortezaei.

The prints on the shirts are from a pre Islamic Revolution magazine Champion depicting Iran’s soccer team, the Silk Road Supreme. Surrounding the photo of the team are a series of mundane advertisement from prescription glasses to hair replacement products. The design, like many of Mortezaei’s line, is an homage to the past, especially the love and cultural significance of Iran’s soccer team.

Second prize went to Labkhand Olfatmanesh and Gazelle Samizay’s six-minute video, Bepar (Jump) where a young girl is playing hopscotch, an innocuous enough childhood game, yet along the way as she makes her way up the squares are a series of obstacles set up by the patriarchy.

The exhibition is chock full of this theme; endurance in midst of oppression, a desperation to be seen and known, channeling other life forms to confirm they are not alone, and are thriving even under difficult and oppressive circumstances.

This cry is loud and clear in the third prize photograph The Kiss by Iranian native Milad Karamooz whose homoerotic photograph of two men engaged in an intimate act was rejected by Mehrvaa Gallery in Tehran for its nudity. Karamooz was not able to be part of the launch but his photograph spoke volumes about the underground life of Iranian men and women who are trying to live their most authentic lives in a country that does not believe homosexuality exists.

Among the winning photographs and videos are other incredibly talented artists, some native Iranians, others expats whose identity is shaped by their compatriots or artists with close ties to Iranian culture and what the youth are making of it, wherever they may be in the world.

Don’t miss out on this powerful series, but if you do, you can still catch the exhibit at its next home at the University of California, Irvine’s Viewpoint Gallery from October 5 to November 5, 2019.

Craft Contemporary
5814 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, 90036

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