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Robert Adanto’s Pearls on the Ocean Floor PDF Print E-mail


Sunday June 13   2pm
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Exploring issues of identity, gender and social restrictions, Robert Adanto’s Pearls on the Ocean Floor features interviews with some of the most important Iranian female artists living in and outside the Islamic Republic, including Shadi Ghadirian, Shirin Neshat, Malekeh Nayiny, and San Francisco- based artist Taravat Talepasand, who will be speaking about her artwork following the screening.


Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
YBCA Screening Room
701 Mission Street, San Francisco


The ubiquitous images of security forces cracking down on demonstrators in Iran garnered global media attention throughout the last twelve months. Last June all eyes were on the Islamic Republic of Iran as its citizens took to the streets to protest the results of a disputed election. Thirty years after the Islamic Revolution of 1979, a proud nation once again stood at a crossroads.

The Green movement, built of a courageous populace seeking justice from an entrenched and imploding regime, continues to seek change in Iran, despite shockingly brutal government forces. As acclaimed artist-activist  Shirin Neshat so aptly put it, ?This is not an ideological war, like it was for those who demonstrated during the Islamic revolution of 1979, it is simply a loud and clear cry for basic human rights: freedom, democracy and justice. The silver lining ,  if there’s any, is that Iranians inside and outside of Iran have been united and mobilized. If this energy is suppressed, will we ever find the strength and hope to come back together as a nation to fight for democracy again?

Bad Girls série by Bahar Sabzevari

Bad Girls série by Bahar Sabzevari

Recent events have revealed a story that has been eclipsed during the last thirty years of Iran’s history. There is no better time than the present to examine this fascinating nation and no better approach than through the visual imagery of female artists. It is women who have collectively bore the brunt of an oppressive regime and the bias of a western media that has repeatedly constructed one-dimensional images portraying them as humorless, repressed, second-class citizens in black chadors.

Like Every Day series by Shadi-Ghadirian

Like Every Day series by Shadi Ghadirian

Robert Adanto’s Pearls on the Ocean Floor challenges this stereotype and caricature obscuring the vibrant and robust culture in Iran and its diaspora. Professor Hamid Dabashi
recently wrote, amuch more patient reading of the visual and performing arts of this generation is needed before we know what in the world it is doing. Indeed, as the younger generation invents a new identity for the 21st century, replacing the religious ideology and revolutionary fervor of the state’s credo, contradictions abound. Photographer Shadi Ghadirian explains that her work touches upon our struggle to hold on to our parents and grandparents’ traditional values and practices while experiencing the benefits of modernity without getting caught up in its vices. Change is an inevitable process,  she says.

Facing issues of identity, gender, and social restrictions, the artists featured in Pearls on the Ocean Floor speak with a compelling quiet reserve and a striking boldness. Their work reveals encounters between religion and secular modernity, change and tradition,contemporary life and history. These brave women know now more than ever that their voices must be heard and their people understood. Through their words and their art, the real Iran will be discovered and this important historical moment has been documented.

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