Attributed to the assassinated Nāṣer-al-Dīn Shah on his deathbed, 1896; the first Persian monarch to ever write and publish his diaries. Aaran gallery in Tehran show a series of photographs on canvas by artist Siamak Filizadeh in the show Underground.
While most Iranians in the diaspora flinch when we hear news outlets calling anything from Iran underground anymore, this show is a different take on its connotations, as posited by the artist, below. Filizadeh, who’s first name is made famous in the Shahnameh, the Persian book of Kings from which he often takes his inspiration, has shown his works worldwide from Japan to USA for decades, combining Persian classical myth, Persian Empire and Iranian history and global pop culture in his often tongue-in-cheek artifices, and is in the collection at LACMA, Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art.
There is a point to the hyper-theatrical constructs of his photographs; life as we know it is man-made, the artificiality of ‘reality’ is society as man has imagined it. Even in the 1600s Europe some understood that “all the world’s a stage”, while India’s entire society had been coming from the starting point of reality as Maya (illusion) for centuries. It is perfect to show Fillizadeh alongside artists such as Bita Fayyazi (as at Chelsea Museum, New York), both taking the absurd and theatrical in their own directions, which in Filizadeh’s case is often kitsch. Yet Filizadeh has made a different turn with this new series of photographs, which are markedly darker, more intense imposing than the flamboyant past works (pictured), which once belied his background in graphic design and for which he’s won so many awards. Looks like it might be time for this artist to win a photography award. The show runs until late June, you can view the gallery in 360 degrees HERE.
A vast city that slowly breaths in the dark depths of the earth. An ancient city, as old as the history of Human despotism. A high wall embraces the city. A wall that according to orders of The King, is decorated with patterns of love.
The King that every fifty years, at an exact date and hour is assassinated. The funeral ceremony that is held is more elaborate every time with the crumbling Tomb built even larger.
The next day The King rises from his tomb and goes to the palace, and his dominion is repeated with no alteration.
It is said that The King has made a pact with the angel of death, and there are others that believe that the citizens of the city are recalling his name in their hearts and ask God to return him to them.
The History of this city has been written once and for eternity, it has a circular motion , where the beginning is the end.
The Name of This City is “Under Ground”
Shah Without Shroud (Kafan, above)
Body of Shah was naked now, like a bouquet of flower that Autumn had not stroked, his body was young untouched by age, the Shah was in a pleasant dream, and his features were moon like. They asked for the Shroud (Kafan). The Shroud that the Shah had brought back with him from the holy shrine was nowhere to be found.
After an hour that Shah had remained naked, one of the courtiers brought his own shroud and so finally Shah’s body could be removed. Once ablution was completed, they could not find the ceremonial Shawl to cover his body, as all courtiers were busy with their own affairs. Finally prime minister told the grooms to remove stitches from an already sewn piece of shawl and to cover the body.
Diaires of Amin ol dolleh
Exile of Mahd e Olia Queen Dowager
I remained here alone and on my own. Looking in all directions, I see neither a friend nor a supporter. Now in the position of queen dowager no one is as defenseless as I am. I thus take refuge with the same King of the Martyrs so that if anybody desires to turn the king against me, drive me away from here, and scandalize the Shah, that person himself will become the victim of the Shah’s wrath. This is the pledge I made in the shrine of Ma’suma for Amir Kabir. Let him not harass me. If at God’s threshold I am blameworthy, still He has done many great works for me. Here, too, He will not let a mother be so severely parted from her son.
The Flying Gazelle (below)
The daughter of a villager Jeyran (Turkish for gazelle; so nicknamed for her charming eyes) was the first of the women of humble origins among Shah’s wives who because of the Shah’s affection managed to wield great influence over the affairs of the court. Brought to the royal harem to be trained as a female musician and singer, she must have first caught the Shah’s attention perhaps just after the Amir Kabir affair. With a style reminiscent of the stories of The Thousand and One Nights, of which the Shah was so fond, the young singer found her way into the Shah’s heart as much with her own charms as with Mahd e Olia’s blessing.
Attractive and outspoken, she was fond of riding and hunting. In the saddle, complete with boots and a man’s outfit and wrapping her facial cover around her forehead, she was a total anomaly next to the grave, often overweight and timid ladies of the harem and in her behavior exhibited a sharp contrast to their mute mannerisms.
Colonel Kasakofski writes that: Mirza was in handcuffed. He wanted to appear cool and brave, but once he saw the hanging poll he lost his nerves. But he still had the strength to say that he is not Bahaie and is a devout Muslim. He started saying prayers. And said “ Keep this Poll as a souvenir, I will not be the last one”.